U of G Enhancing Ties, Facilitating Solutions in East Africa

January 23, 2013 - Campus Bulletin

University of Guelph leaders will travel to Tanzania this month to host a workshop on improving social, economic and environmental sustainability in East Africa.

There they hope to strengthen U of G’s long-standing connections and help engage a wide range of stakeholders in solving regional problems.

U of G representatives – including president Alastair Summerlee; Kevin Hall, vice-president (research and external partnerships); and Rich Moccia, associate vice-president (strategic partnerships) – will lead discussions on water, agriculture, energy and other topics.

The workshop will take place in Dar es Salaam Jan. 28 to 30. It’s expected to attract academics and university administrators, government leaders, industry, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), alumni and others from Canada, East Africa and beyond.

“The workshop will start a dialogue that will explore opportunities for collaboration across multiple sectors,” Hall said. “The goal is finding ways to link research and training capacity of East African universities with government, industry and the public on critical issues such as food security and scarcity, water and resource problems, and poverty.

“We want to use our research and training strengths to help find simple solutions that improve the quality of people’s daily lives.”

East Africa faces many challenges in adapting to such issues as rising food prices, disease prevalence, climate change and political instability, Hall said.

“There are many immediate problems to deal with, such as the need for adequate food and water supplies, while we tackle longer-term goals such as improved agricultural practices to increase yields and nutritional values.”

Last year, Hall asked business professor Rumina Dhalla, College of Management and Economics, and professor emeritus Peter van Straaten, School of Environmental Sciences, to look into ways to improve U of G’s connections in the region. Both have lived in Tanzania and conducted research in East Africa.

The upcoming workshop resulted from their visit last fall to East Africa, where they met leaders of universities, governments, NGOs and industries -- including U of G partners – and from campus discussions about existing U of G initiatives.

Guelph faculty and staff have had long-term associations with the East African community and have partnered with many universities and agencies such as the Canadian International Development Agency, the International Development Research Centre and other international funding agencies.

“This workshop will help consolidate some of those existing partnerships, and most importantly, foster and develop new partnerships with not only universities in the region, but with NGO's, government and industry sectors in the region,” Hall said.

Other U of G faculty taking part in the workshop are Prof. Cate Dewey, Population Medicine, and geography professor Alice Hovorka, both of whom have worked in Africa.

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