A Consultative Forum was held between the Ministry of Federal and Pastoral Development Affairs (MoFPDA) and five universities to evaluate the planning phase and to discuss on the implementation and follow up of the planned activities following the strategic Memorandum of Agreement signed earlier this year. The forum is organized by the MoFPDA and Haramaya University on 18 May 2018 at Triangle Hotel, Dire Dawa.

Dr. Nega Assefa, Delegate for the Office of Vice-president for Research Affairs (and Director for Research Groups and Partnerships) of Haramaya University, warmly welcomed all guests and said that the University is working on the issues of enhancing resilience and reducing vulnerability of pastoral communities through climate smart pastoral development interventions. He appreciated the partnership established between the university and the MoFPDA. He also reiterated that such partnership activities should continue in the future.

Mr. Shanko Delelegne, Director General of the MoFPDA, thanked the representatives of the MoFPDA, Haramaya, Addis Ababa, Hawassa, Wollo, and Civil Service universities, and other partners (USAID, Meles Zenawi Foundation, Justice for All-Prison Fellowship Ethiopia, UNDP) for ‘making it [forum] a reality’ and said, “We [MoFPDA and the selected universities as well as other development partners] believe that we need to work more to continuously develop capacity so as to strengthen our collaborative effort to ensure sustainable pastoral area development.” According to Mr. Shanko, the general objective of the joint venture is to enhance the efforts and research findings, and a plan for establishment of an Institute of Peace and Development, which makes the outcomes of the project sustainable, as well as to evaluate the planning phase and discuss on the implementation and follow up of the activities.

Dr. Muluken Gezahegn, a member of the local organizing committee, also said that the workshop is aimed at strengthening networking, joint planning, implementation and evaluation of problem-solving research among the MoFPDA, universities, and other development partners. He also indicated that the forum is organized with the aim of ensuring mission clarity, common understanding, and usefulness of the MOU; identifying priority areas for 2011 E.C.; agreeing on the amount, source, search strategy, and administration of funds; learning from each other, networking, and data and information sharing; and, understanding and planning integrated monitoring and evaluation.

On this occasion, all the universities presented their research plans. Mr. Dereje Kifle, representing the team from Haramaya University, presented a proposal on “Enhancing Resilience and Reducing Vulnerability of Pastoral Communities through Climate Smart Pastoral Development Interventions”. He indicated that the first activity will be to evaluate the design, implementation and impact of pastoral area development policies and strategies, which include, among others, pastoral development interventions related to livestock, water, off-farm activities, with emphasis on livelihoods diversification and commercialization. Addis Ababa University, represented by Dr. Tadese Beriso, proposed a comprehensive study on the roles of Mass Based Societies (MBS) and Professional Associations in promoting National Cohesion and Integration in Ethiopia. Mr. Andinet from Wollo University presented a proposal on Indigenous Institutions and Community Value Systems for Peace Building, Co-existence, and Tolerance: Experiences, Challenges, and Ways Forward. Similarly, Hawassa University, represented by Dr. Akmel, presented a proposal on Managing Ethnicity, Diversity, Conflict Prevention and Peaceful Co-existence Effectiveness of Federal Special Support in Pastoral Areas of Benishangul Gumuz and Gambela, and Regional Administrators’ Implementation Capacity. The proposal of Civil Service University presented by Dr. Mohammednur focused on Constitutionalism, Political Economy and Community Building.

All presenters emphasized that the partnership is a cornerstone in enhancing the institutional capacity in professional associations in promoting national cohesion and integration in Ethiopia. The presentation sessions were followed by a discussion where questions, comments and suggestions were raised on the various presentations. General reflections were made by Mr. Shanko and Dr. Chanyalew Seyoum, the moderators of the discussion session.