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III. Progress in research and training programmes at the institute of environmental studies, university of Khartoum (and recommendations for further development)
The first part of this Session dealt with reports on progress so far. M. D. el-Khalifa outlined the teaching and research programme of the Institute of Environmental Studies (IES), centred on their new M.Sc. course and designed particularly as in-service training for Sudanese government employees. The programme had developed from discussions within the University of Khartoum and was being aided by outside funding from the Ford Foundation and from the UN University. Four environmental problem areas within the Sudan had been identified as the bases for optional studies in the training and research programmes: fresh water ecosystems management; arid land management; coastal zone management; and urban and regional management.
For the M.Sc. programmes there is also a compulsory core of subjects related to aspects of the physical and human environment. The teaching staff for the M.Sc. programmes is drawn from various departments of the University. So far it has not proved possible to offer instruction in all four problem-related options, although this is expected to be remedied soon. The M.Sc. training programmes are now only in the first semester (one of four covering two academic years) and have ten students drawn from a variety of government ministries.
M. M. Khogali outlined the research programme relating to Arid Lands Management that was being funded under the Arid Lands Sub-programme of the UN University. The following investigations had commenced:
1. Distribution of Striga hermonthica, a parasitic weed of
sorghum, as determined by domestic animals, and its potential as
an annual animal feed;
2. Impact of improved water supplies in North and South Kordofan Provinces;
3. Perceptions of development in sembarid Sudan by planners and by local populations affected;
4. Local government administration and the use of natural resources in Sudan;
5. Resource use and conservation studies in the Nuba Mountains.
Other possible projects were under review. It was indicated how all these studies were related to the overall theme of "Obstacles for the Application of Existing Knowledge in Arid Lands" in the UN University Arid Lands Sub programme.
The last speaker, F. F. Bebawi, briefly outlined his Striga hermonthica study.
In his paper Recommendations for Further Development, F. Ibrahim suggested that departments of various faculties of the University of Khartoum in which environmental studies were relevant should also include in their syllabuses some subjects from the IES programmes. Partly this would encourage an interdisciplinary approach to and a wider awareness of environmental problems, and partly it would serve as preparation for those graduates who later undertook IES programmes. He also proposed the formation in the Sudan of a Society of Environmental Sciences which might enlarge the sphere of influence of IES and assist its extramural activities. Third, he recommended that IES should provide short courses for non-academics working in environment-related spheres, perhaps including training in environmental studies at the middle grade of project implementor. He also proposed that IES should promote contacts with similar foreign institutions and encourage the exchange of teachers and students, with short visits by experts in fields not strongly developed in Sudan. Finally, he recommended the establishment of field stations for research and training, notably at El Fasher in Northern Darfur, which has a good administrative base and which offers a valuable range of environmental and social problems for study.
The next speaker, H. R. J. Davies, in his contribution on Further Development of the United Nations University's Arid Lands Su~programme in the Sudan, posed several questions about possible future research activities. Asking whether any vital topics had been omitted from the research programme, and accepting that development would be mainly in the rural sector, he suggested that rural handicrafts and small industries, forest products, and the role of women in rural development were fields meriting further investigation. He noted that the Thimm Report had identified recurrent problem areas in rural development projects and suggested that one of these, for example the problem of social acceptance of projects, might be investigated in depth, or perhaps a particular region or development project might be studied with respect to the interactions of several or all of the problem areas identified by Thimm. Another possibility was that the UN University Sub-programme might become involved in training below postgraduate level, by holding programmes, conferences, and demonstrations in support of rural development, aimed at middle-level implementors and possibly involving consultation with local populations. The Sudan government and other UN organizations as well as the University of Khartoum would have to be involved. Davies also argued for a field station, and noted the advantages of Shiquiq in the Qoz country. Whatever direction the new research activities took, he stressed the need for co-operation among the University of Khartoum, the Sudan government, the UN University, and other UN organizations to make the most effective use of limited financial resources.
Among other suggestions which emerged during the general discussions was the need for all proposals for development of courses at the IES and for research projects under the Arid Lands Sub-programme to be realistic and to be conceived in awareness of local conditions and of the constraints which these impose. It was also suggested that interdisciplinary research should be incorporated into the IES training programmes to the maximum extent. It was felt that a small core of teaching and research staff should be established within IES, as a fulcrum about which its programmes might grow and to which temporary staff attachments could be made. The maximum interaction should be encouraged between IES and the various agencies of the Sudan government, including short in-service training courses for officers of those agencies, to develop an applied field element within the programmes and to ensure that the skills of graduates were appropriate to the needs of potential employers in the development area. There was recognition of the need for the establishment of field stations, both for research and student training, and for these to be adequately and appropriately equipped. The possibility was mentioned of joint activity with UN agencies to strengthen the potential of such field stations, which should maintain close ties with IES in Khartoum. The discussion also stressed the need for the development of broad insights into social and cultural issues, to complement the acquisition of technical skills by
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