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Ethiopian Connection

Ethiopian child holding a goat kid.

Langston University and the E (Kika) de la Garza Institute for Goat Research have had a long and fruitful relationship with universities in Ethiopia that began with research grants conducted with Awassa College of Agriculture and Alemaya University. In 1998, a three-year grant was awarded to Langston University for an institutional partnership with Awassa College of Agriculture of the newly-formed Debub University in Awassa, Ethiopia entitled "Enhance Food Security and Income Generating Potential of Families in Southern Ethiopia Through Improved Goat Production and Extension". This grant was then followed by a second three-year grant for a partnership with Alemaya University, called "Enhancing Institutional Research and Extension Capabilities for Increased Food Security Through Improved Goat Production". Both grants were designed to enhance the research, teaching, and extension capabilities of all institutions involved through a program of collaborative research, training of Ethiopian scientists at LU, and the establishment of village development projects designed to enhance household food security, income generating potential, and family health status through increased goat productivity. Increased goat production was accomplished via the provision of goats and appropriate technology to women's groups for goat production in villages near both universities.

In the conduct of these two grants from 1999 through 2001, six Ethiopian scientists, three each from Debub University and Alemaya University, spent between four and six months at the E (Kika) de la Garza Institute for Goat Research for training in research methodologies and extension. Langston University faculty made a total of seven visits to the Ethiopian universities to present seminars, assist in collaborative research, and to monitor and evaluate the projects. In November 2000, Drs. Art Goetsch and Roger Merkel of Langston University trained staff members of both Ethiopian universities in the surgical insertion of ruminal cannulas. Also in November 2000, as a part of grant activities, a conference on goat production was held on the Debub University campus entitled "The Opportunities and Challenges of Enhancing Goat Production in East Africa". The goals of the conference were to: 1) review the current state of small ruminant production in East Africa; 2) identify the major production constraints and areas for research and extension; and 3) create a closer relationship among animal industry, research organizations, and development/extension efforts to increase animal production. The conference was well-attended and brought together individuals from government agencies, academic institutions, national and regional livestock research centers, private industry, and non-governmental development agencies to discuss current problems and constraints to goat production and to try and develop institutional linkages to work to overcome such constraints. This conference was the first of its kind to be held in Ethiopia.

Ethiopian woman with goat kid

Through the village development projects, 80 women in the Debub University region and 188 women in the Alemaya University region received goats and production training. Almost 600 goats have been distributed since the beginning of these programs in 1999. While it is still too early to determine the ultimate impact raising goats will have on family nutritive status and income, there are some early positive indicators. Some families have begun to milk their goats to provide their families with milk to consume. Some families are also beginning to fatten excess males for sale and using the proceeds for household use or for initiating small business ventures. These activities, while modest to date, show the promise that goats hold for these families in being able to improve their lives and offer better nutrition for their families. Thus, the first steps are being realized in fulfilling the goals of the development project of enhancing family nutritive status, particularly that of children, and of increasing household income through the sale of livestock.

Dr. Girma Abebe in the new computer lab.

In 2000, Langston University was awarded a sustainability grant entitled "Enhanced Education and Computer Capabilities: The Foundation for Sustained Collaboration" for further activities with Debub University and a new institution, Oklahoma State University was added to the partnership. Further, Langston University was awarded a companion Technology Enhancement grant to establish a student computer laboratory on the Debub University campus, an activity that was completed in November, 2001. In the conduct of the sustainability grant, one Debub University faculty member spent one semester in Oklahoma State University's Department of Agricultural Education, Communications & 4-H Youth Development. This was followed by a curriculum development workshop held at Debub University that was jointly conducted by an Oklahoma State University faculty member and Debub University faculty.

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