Photo courtesy of H. Gunther

Water management practices are a key topic of interest for Mekonnen Gebremichael, a professor of the civil and environmental engineering department at UCLA. Curious as to how these practices vary from country to country, principal investigator Gebremichael kicked-off the three-year study on agriculture and irrigation in East Africa last June.

The international research program, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), allows students from U.S. universities to explore the challenges of water management practices in agriculture in three nations: Rwanda, Sudan, and Ethiopia. These countries were selected due to their proximity to the Nile River Basin and associated water management and political issues in the region. Gebremichael explains that exposure to such programs provide students insight into international water management problems facing Africa today and puts theory learned within the classroom into real life context.

The first phase of the program, referred to as the Integrated Research Experience for Students (IRES), sent six students to Rwanda to work alongside local farmers to investigate best soil usage for crops, irrigation systems, and well-water projects. The students, two of which are from UCLA, also gained the opportunity to collaborate directly with faculty from the University of Rwanda. The program aims to increase awareness of water management in Rwanda and to improve the livelihood of those residents who directly depend on the river.

Link to the full Daily Bruin article, “UCLA students join international study on water management in East Africa“: