Kick-off meet: RUNRES Partners, stakeholders look for opportunities

AMU’s recently bagged RUNRES Project - a flagship project of ETH Zurich World Food System Center funded by Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation has held two-day kick-off meeting at Haile Resort, Arba Minch on 24th & 25th September, 2019, in the presence of its partners and all stakeholders. Click here to see the pictures

The ongoing intense deliberation was meant to create a much-needed synergy that will enable partners and stakeholders to hammer out consensus in identifying areas and to exploit opportunities with effective strategy that would make this humanitarian endeavor a great success as it moves further.

At the outset, Research and Community Service Vice President, Dr Simon Shibru, Project Coordinator, said, this 8-year project with other overseas partners is aimed at establishing green circular economy between rural and urban set-up. The project area, Arba Minch within the radius of 18 km will include Lante and Shelle as it will focus on banana value chain and recycling of mainly agro-organic waste.

Emphasizing his points, he said, it’s an alternative for the linear model we were stuck up with that wasn’t promising. We had Millennium Development Goals and now glued to Sustainable Development Goals and status quo remained same. But, RUNRES will break the vicious circle wherein rural waste was being dumped in urban area that caused health and environmental hazards. It will support in introducing small-scale processing so that products are standardized, contribute in reducing waste, creating jobs, improving environment and strengthening livelihood. Hence, it needs commitment from all stakeholders.

Prof Johan Six, Project’s Principal Investigator, giving a lowdown on RUNRES Project, said, initially Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation will ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all and strive to end hunger and achieve food security across rural to urban areas. He said that problem of sanitation is more acute in urban areas where informal housing is on the rise.

He adds that converting rural and urban waste into resources by recycling them is the major goal, and at this juncture, where fertilizer use isn’t optimum that affects crop production and agricultural waste is being just dumped needs an alternative to enhance quality of agricultural product by introducing processing at small-scale level thus increasing its standard that will yield better price for farmers, he added.

Project’s strategic partner, Dr Kinfe Kassa, on the occasion, said, this project perfectly aligns with Article 44 and 92 of the Constitution of Ethiopia, 1995, and its prime goal is to enhance farmer’s income. He said there were projects such as ROSA, CLARA, etc. have set precedent as to how waste can be used as a resource.

The program begun with Arba Minch Town Mayor’s representative, Endrias Olto, presenting outcome of Arba Minch: Improved sanitation value chain project, said, the project could collect 411,175 liters of solid waste from 2,559 house-holds and it looked into crucial issues such as behavioral change & public education, business model analysis & development, innovation & technology, extension services, etc.

RUNRES Project manager, Mr Abayneh Feyiso, highlighting banana value chain scenario in Arba Minch, said, banana contributes 67% of total fruit production and sustenance for the rural communities, but obsolete techniques, sparse nutrient, soil erosion, strong oligopoly and low farm-gate price further made this business bit unprofitable; therefore, it needs to be revived with professional approach.

The project is being implemented in Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Ethiopia and South Africa in collaboration with International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Arba Minch University and University of KwaZulu-Natal. The budget for 1st phase of 4-year is ᵮ 3.8 Million (Swiss Franc) of which ᵮ 456,000.00 (ETH 14 Million) goes to AMU; and the total break-up for 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th years’ allocation of project is ETH 4.5, 4, 3.5 and 1.4 Million respectively.

AMU top officials, directors, ETH Zurich partners, Mr Pius Kruetli, an environmentalist, Post-Doc scholar, Mr Leonhard Spath, PhD Scholar, Ben Wilde, representatives from Arba Minch Town Administration, Arba Minch Town Water Supply and Sewerage Enterprise, Anjonuss Banana Processing Enterprise, Dengel Waste Recycling Members Association, Arba Minch Zuria Woreda Enterprise, Kale Hiwot Church South West Zone Development Program, Gamo Farmers’ Fruit & Vegetable Marketing Multi-Union and AMU’s Zute Enterprise were in attendance.

(Corporate Communication Directorate)