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  • Livelihood 2013: WelcomeThis is the fourth international congress in a row at Mekelle University striking a balance between in-door academic sessions and field visits after Forestry 2004; Highland 2006, Water 2011


International Congress: Livelihood 2013 Sustainable livelihood in the tropical drylands

Location: Mekelle, Ethiopia
Date: 17-22 September 2013

International Congress: Livelihood 2013 Livelihood 2013: Congress pictures Livelihood 2013: Group picture Livelihood 2013: Congress pictures Livelihood 2013: Congress pictures Over the last decade, significant advances have been made in tropical and subtropical drylands of Sub-Saharan Africa to boost sustainable livelihood. This international symposium aims at creating a forum for those conducting research in dry highlands of Africa as well as in comparable regions around the globe to discuss results and to exchange experience during paper and poster sessions as well as during field excursions. The congress will be held at Mekelle, the regional capital of Ethiopia’s northern province Tigray. Mekelle University has been spearheading interdisciplinary research on natural resources management for enhancing sustainable livelihood in the drought-stricken Ethiopian highlands, covering issues that are of relevance for many tropical and subtropical highland regions in the world.

International Congress: Livelihood 2013

Themes to be discussed

The congress will focus on various aspects of sustainable livelihood which will be elaborated upon into the six thematic sessions of the congress and 2 stakeholder’s fora:

  • Water harvesting for improving livelihood: water and food security: infiltration, enhancing groundwater recharge
  • Soil conservation and forestry: effect of soil conservation practices, conservation agriculture, watershed management, faith of sediment in hydrological catchments at various scales, forest regeneration and management
  • Technologies for improved rural welfare: oxen ploughing, rural energy (solar, wind, hybrid systems, biogass, small-scale hydropower)
  • Aquatic Ecology: water quality, eutrophication, cyan bacterial blooms, fish as protein source for livelihoods improvement, potential conflict between fish culture and water quality
  • Crop Productivity: salinization, deficit irrigation, irrigation management, drip irrigation, long-term fertility, traditional irrigation systems, mechanization, crop livestock systems
  • Socio-economics of sustainable livelihood: home economics, entitlements of natural resources, credit systems, value chains, coping mechanisms
  • Farmers forum on Sustainable Livelihood and natural Resources: high value crops (fruits, vegetables), water-saving technologies
  • Technical forum for design engineers, hydrologists, watershed experts and agronomists: integrated watershed management for water harvesting  soil and water conservation technologies


Rationale of the congress

Since the great famine of 1983 – 1985 livelihood of the people in the drylands of Tigray has evolved relatively favorably. Especially after the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), overthrew the Mengistu regime, peace was restored and the economy started growing at accelerated pace. The Government of Ethiopia, in its drive of meeting the Millennium Goals has written into its Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) a commitment to make its people in the dry lands less vulnerable to erratic rains. Since its establishment in 1995 Mekelle University has been playing a key-role in spearheading rural development through a very ambitious participatory research programme on farmers fields. Thanks to these laudable efforts, Mekelle University was awarded its status of “UNESCO-Centre of Excellence in Land and Water management” in 2006, and since then it has played a leading role in a number of national and international fora such as the Nile Basin Initiative, Friend Nile etc… With this congress, Mekelle University wants to share minds with the natural resources and livelihood specialists of the world, so as to be empowered to better fulfill the challenges to feed its human population which has more than doubled since the great famine of 1985. We aim at providing the researchers on natural resources and livelihood of Ethiopia a forum to reflect on where they are with their multidisciplinary research and with the cross-cutting issues. They will not only discuss among themselves but also with international peers from all over the world and hence gain from international experience with a holistic approach to natural resources management towards sustainable livelihood.


Specific objectives of the congress

  • Evaluate past research efforts in integrated natural resources management for sustainable livelihood with particular focus on water harvesting
  • Streamline future scientific efforts in support of sustainable livelihood
  • Draw recommendations for capacity building in land and water management


Questions to be addressed

  • How limiting are soil, water and forest resources in East-Africa at present?
  • Which land management strategies can be followed to enhance sustainable output from soil, water and forest resources?
  • How can we boost sustainable food production by integrated catchment management approaches?
  • Can conservation agriculture contribute to crop water efficiency and hence more food security?
  • How economical are integrated land management approaches and are they socially acceptable?
  • Which way do we have to manage water-harvesting reservoirs to ensure a sustainable supply of healthy drinking water and edible fish?
  • Which farm intensification/mechanization should be put in place to optimize land and water resources?
  • What are the technical, institutional, policy options to  improve livelihood in the dry tropical highlands?

Invited participants are international scientists, leading farmers and experts from governmental and non-governmental organizations. Researchers, representatives of donor organizations and decision-makers are particularly invited to have an exchange of views with the farmers and experts.

Total number of participants will be limited to 120 persons on a first come first served basis.


Pre-congress tour

  • One-day scientific tour to water-harvesting catchments Mayleva, Kihen and Agulae dams


Post-congress tour

  • Two-day scientific/cultural tour from Mekelle to Lalibela via Maychew, and Weldiya



  • Kindeya Gebrehiwot, Mekelle University, Ethiopia
  • Jozef (Seppe) Deckers, KU Leuven (University of Leuven), Belgium


Scientific Committee

  • Dr. Kindeya Gebrehiwot, President Mekelle University, Ethiopia
  • Prof. Mitiku Haile, Ambassador from Ethiopia to UNESCO, Paris, France
  • Prof. Jozef (Seppe) Deckers, KU Leuven (University of Leuven), Belgium
  • Dr. Kassa Amare, Mekelle University, Ethiopia
  • Dr. Hans Bauer, resource person, Mekelle University, Ethiopia
  • Prof. Jan Nyssen, Universiteit Gent (University of Gent), Belgium
  • Prof. Kristine Walraevens, Universiteit Gent (University of Gent), Belgium
  • Prof. Bas van Wesemael, Université Catholique de Louvain (Louvain-la-Neuve), Belgium
  • Ato Daniel Teka, Mekelle University, Ethiopia
  • Dr. Tesfamichael G., Mekelle University, Ethiopia
  • Prof. Luc De Meester, KU Leuven (University of Leuven), Belgium
  • Dr. Tsegay Asmelash, Mekelle University, Ethiopia
  • Prof. Dirk Raes, KU Leuven (University of Leuven), Belgium
  • Dr. Alemtsehay Tsegay, Mekelle University, Ethiopia
  • Prof. Jean Poesen, KU Leuven (University of Leuven), Belgium
  • Dr. Amanuel Zenebe, Mekelle University, Ethiopia
  • Prof. Erik Mathijs, KU Leuven (University of Leuven), Belgium
  • Prof. Josse De Baerdemaeker, KU Leuven (University of Leuven), Belgium
  • Ato Petros Geday, Mekelle University, Ethiopia
  • Prof. Egbert De Smet, Universiteit Antwerpen (University of Antwerp), Belgium
  • Ato Gebremedhin, Mekelle University, Ethiopia
  • Mr. Rudy Gevaert, Universiteit Gent (University of Gent), Belgium
  • Ato Emmanuel, Mekelle University, Ethiopia
  • Dr. Stefaan Dondeyne, KU Leuven (University of Leuven), Belgium
  • Dr. Jan Moeyersons, Royal Museum for Central Africa, Belgium
  • Dr. Karen Vancampenhout, K.H.Kempen (University College), Belgium
  • Mr. Neil Munro, KU Leuven (University of Leuven), Belgium


Keynote speakers

  • Keynote speakers will be invited per theme based on the paper submissions received