IUC 2019 Phase 2 NM-AISTOngoing
In this second phase of the VLIR-UOS IUC programme we primarily want to continue working in the indicated research directions of the first phase, especially as they were considered as extremely relevant by the evaluation commission. These main directions were food safety, safe water, and the sustainable allocation of water resources for people and environment (“water and people”). In the second phase, the region of study and direct impact will be enlarged from the upper Pangani to northern Tanzania, which also follows a review recommendation. In addition, the hydrology component of P2 in phase 1 will be integrated in the phase 2 agriculture project (P1). All research activities and the region of direct impact can hence be grouped under the title “Sustainable management of natural resources to the benefit of the local communities of northern Tanzania”. In addition to the above research projects, there is also the transversal project (P4) that aims to strengthen the research and teaching capacity on campus and facilitates outreach towards the communities of northern Tanzania. New in phase 2 will the consolidation of a physical technology park (P5) to which the programme will contribute with optimising the policy and with capacity building.
In the first phase, project 1 actually was composed of two separate projects (banana farming systems + water sanitation) that had to be merged by VLIR-UOS due to financial constraints before formulating phase 1. This project structure resulted in a very artificial structure that partly was the cause of ineffective supervisory structures, as was also indicated by the review commission. Therefore in phase 2 there will be a separate project on farming systems and an independent project on water sanitation. In the newly structured “sustainable banana farming systems, P1” project, there will be more focus on how to optimise the banana production through proper strain selection and the integration of additional crops in inter-cropping approaches. In addition, there will be attention for the efficient use of water and for the conservation of soils through nutrient recycling and maintenance of soil biodiversity. In order to have a broader impact and to integrate geographical climate variation.
The uncoupled project on“water sanitation, P2” will, as in the first phase continue working on the purification of surface waters by means of constructed wetlands and membrane systems. As for the constructed wetlands component there will be attention for the social component and the perception of wetland systems by the communities and industries and the potentials for also treating industrial effluents. From the technical site there will in the second phase be more attention to alternative techniques and membrane systems for efficient purification of surface water that are contaminated by fluorides. An academic challenged which can also have far-reaching applied consequences will be the attempts to retrieve nitrogen from waste waters for recycling this nutrient into farming systems.
As a spin-off of the VLIR-UOS IUC programme, a closely associated Centre of Excellence became established (WISE-futures) of which the project leader of the “water and people” project of phase 1 became the director. As a consequence he cannot longer lead this project into phase 2. As there was no proper local counterpart trained in the hydrological component of this project, also the Flemish project leader withdrew and will become a team member in the re-organised project on banana farming systems (P1). Therefore, the hydrological component will now be integrated into the sustainable banana farming systems project. As the reviewers underlined the priority to include ecology as an important theme in the programme, the (hydro) ecological component of the original water and people project will in the second phase be fully developed as a main project. However, in line with the philosophy of NM-AIST, it was decided to build further on the fundamental knowledge acquired in the first phase and work towards specific applications to the benefit of industry and society. Therefore this project is now indicated as “applied aquatic ecology, P3”. There will be special focus on how the needed ecosystem services (e.g. control of pest species) of surface waters can be maintained in a changing landscape with ample use of pesticides in agriculture and under a changing climate.
The project on “institutional strengthening, P4” including ICT, library and CIC will be maintained in phase 2 and becomes even more important as it is expected that research and teaching activities will increase on campus as more students are recruited and trained. An important additional activity in this project will be the management and analysis of data collected by the drone that was bought in the first phase. This instrument will be used in several projects in synergy with the institutional strengthening project. For collecting and sharing the data some apps will be developed that will be used also to communicate with the local communities. In the second phase a PhD scholar is foreseen that can develop tools for such big data collection and sharing.
In the second phase, even more attention will be payed to the valorisation of results (through the technical park) and the outreach to the local communities and industries (through the community information centre, CIC). The importance of this outreach and valorisation component will in phase 2 become even much more important as data become published, some products produced and protocols and policy developed. That is why in the second phase there will be a new project for the “technology park, P5”.
The VLIR-UOS programme will further function as a leverage to attract additional funding. This was already very successful in phase 1, as also underlined by the evaluators. Not only were the centres of excellence (CoE) WISE futures and CREATES, established, there are also clear plans for centres of excellence in IT and banana research. These centres are integrating the expertise of several schools on campus and will seek for synergies with the IUC programme. Towards the end of phase 2 it is also the intention that priority themes will be adopted by these centres which will guarantee sustainability of VLIR-UOS investments. Besides the continued search for innovative techniques in research through partnerships with leading experts in Flanders, the programme will in phase 2 also seek to update teaching curricula in interaction with existing training programmes at Flemish universities.
Institutional University Cooperation
01/01/2019 - 31/12/2022