Tailored opportunities: Call for papers- International conference Women’s Role in the sustainable development of Africa

Shared by Mulubrhan Balehegn

What ?

This is an international conference on the issues related to women’s contribution to sustainability and sustainable development in Africa. The conference will be held the International Leadership Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia  on 27 November 2017. If your paper got accepted to the conference, you will be provided with travel and accommodation support.

Who ?

Any one with research or any other form of experience worth sharing in the following thematic areas:

  • Women Empowerment for Sustainable Development
  • Women Political Participation: Gender Quota System
  • Economic Status of Women
  • Role of Women in Peace and Security in Africa
  • Women in Historical, Social and Cultural Affairs
  • Affirmative Action: Women in Higher Education
  • Women Leadership Role


Prepare an abstract of your paper and make submission to the following emails:

Dr.Hanna Yakavenka:H.Yakavenka@greenwich.ac.uk (if you are based in Europe) or
Ms. BethelhemTaye,bethelhemtaye.ili@gmail.com or bethelhem.t@ili.edu.et (if you are based in Africa)

For further detailed information, follow this link 

If you would like to ask a question, put a comment to this post.

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Call for Conference Papers- Inter-African Research and Education collaboration by Ubuntu-Net

Shared by Mulubrhan Balehegn


This is an international call for abstracts focusing on research and education collaboration in Africa. The conference organizers will provide support towards travel (air-ticket) and accommodation.


Any researcher or academician, consultant, freelancer etc with contributions towards how to enhance research and education collaboration in Africa


The conference is going to happen in  Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and will be hosted by the Ethiopian Education and Research Network, EthERNet.


If you have done any research, or you have an important experience to share in the area of research and education collaboration among African Universities and research organizations, then you should apply to this call. There will be ample opportunities for networking, meeting fellow scientists and practitioners in the area.


The conference: 2-3 November 2017

Deadline for submission of Abstracts: 31 August 2017

Please follow the instruction for application in the following link

If you need any support or advice in applying, ask us  by writing a comment to this post.

Fund for promoting Innovations: Innovation Fund

Shared by Dawit Gebregziabher


The name of the call is Innovation Fund (Second call for Projects). Its objective is “to promote innovations in various agricultural sub-sectors in Ethiopia that benefit


smallholder farmers”. This objective can be met (i)by liking the applicant company/ies to other actors such as buyers, cooperatives, NGOs, research institution, Universities and some other organisations; (ii)  by informing the companies about the latest technologies and developments through different  modes of communication such as business platforms, personal meetings and innovation opportunity reports. It offers 50% of co-financing grant with a maximum of 25,000. Out of this grant, 80% will be provided at the beginning of the project phase and the 20% will be provided after the approval of final report and expenses.



What the fund is looking for: the project should be on poultry, aquaculture, legumes, spices, sesame, potato or the dairy. Project should introduce new or improved technologies, business models, and service delivery methods to Ethiopia. Directly or indirectly, the project should benefit smallholder farmers and it should be implemented within a year.


The applicant should be an Ethiopian company with licence, but partnership with other organization research institutes, Universities etc is possible. These partners can involve in more than one project. Applicants can not granted fund for more than one project at a time. Applicants should be willing to submit quarterly progress updates. The applicant should co-finance the project with 50% (both in cash or in-kind), 20% should be in-kind.


The probability of acquiring the grant could be enhanced by including the following elements in the concept note and proposals; these include technical approach, economic viability, implementation capacity, value for money and additional and impact of the project. Therefore, my personal suggestion is the groups either form Universities and research institutes should consist of different disciplines according to the nature of the call to perform interdisciplinary work, which can solve multiple problems at a time. For example for this call, I recommend the group to consist: Agricultural Economist or related field, Animal researcher, crop researcher, horticulture researcher etc actually it depends on the proposal to be developed. The other requirement is to get an Ethiopian company with licence.

Applicants are strongly advised to call and discuss with Agri-Pro Focus Ethiopia before applying for obtaining more detailed information.


Here are the important dates (deadlines) about this call

18 August 2017          Deadline for submission of concept notes

29 September 2017     Announcement of selected projects

27 October 2017         Deadline for submission of proposals for selected concept notes

01 December 2017      Announcement of approved projects

29 December 2017      signing of contract and first disbursement for approved projects

Follow the link to apply: https://agriprofocus.com/post/596f716926b72a19f3ce0399

Tailored academic and research opportunities for Researchers and Academicians in Developing Countries

For an academic and a researcher in developing countries, accessing timely and relevant opportunities and being able to act on them is not only important for successful career development, but also for survival in today’s highly competitive sector. The internet provides excellent opportunities, but unfortunately, most of the resources available are in their generic form making it difficult for individuals to decide on whether a certain resource or call is relevant or not. As a result, many academics spend their precious time checking and reading resources that are neither relevant nor important, making many to abandon searching at all and fail to benefit from the tremendous resources that the net can benefit.

Recognizing the increase in number of people in the academic and research profession, and that most online resources are generic and not tailored, my self  (Mulubrhan Balehegn) and my colleague  (Dawit Gebregziabher) have now started to periodically post tailor made resources that would allow any one to decide on whether to pursue a certain resource or not within seconds. We will provide resources on the following ;

  • Scholarships (BSc/ BA, MSC/MA, PhD,  Postdoc)
  • Short term professional training, meetings etc
  • Internships and professional attachments
  • International and local consultancies
  • Research funds
  • Other funds (bursaries, research funds, travel grants)
  • Call for conference papers
  • Call for joining international research teams
  • Free online academic and research resources and many more

For each type of call we will provide short descriptions of what kind of resource it is (e.g whether it is a scholarship, small bursary, travel grant etc, and how much is the benefit), who is it targeting and how to make applications.

Besides to providing these resources, we will personally coach and direct applicants who are interested in applying to any of the resources we will list or to any other resource available anywhere.

For periodical and tailored academic and research resources, please follow this blog by clicking the follow button on the upper right side of this blog.



Can we defend our theses defense ?

photo (33)It is the end of the month of June and many academic programs are ending for the year. Those having postgraduate programs are undertaking MSc., MA and PhD theses defenses.  Like many other colleagues in Universities, I had various opportunities and privileges of examining MSC and MA candidates at  our different universities. Every time we examine a candidate, I wonder if we are doing it correctly or if the general procedures, the grading, defending  do justice to the novel endeavors of assuring that our graduates have achieved the required research qualifications during their postgraduate research.

Here are some of  ‘problems’ or flaws in our theses examination procedures that I have been  contemplating about over the years.

1. Excessive vain compliments and appreciations. If you happen to be in one of the defense sessions you will notice that examiners, department heads and audiences spend considerable amount of precious time lavishing one another with complements. A particular scene goes like this- the candidate starts by saying I am thankful to Almighty God, my Adviser, my parents for giving me this chance. I also appreciate the audience for their commitment and dedication to my thesis defense. For God’s sake, no one gives a candidate  a chance. As a candidate you have earned it. The audience is probably there because of a departmental obligation or rarely because they want to learn something and thanking them for their ‘extreme devotion’ and commitment just makes them feel awkward.

The phoniest of the compliments happen when a candidate finishes presenting. For reasons all of us can guess, most candidates have below standard, if not terrible presentation skills. Some spend standing for thirty minutes reading every line of tightly packed 50+ Slides. But, when it is time for the chair person to invite the examiner, or when the examiner starts to provide his or her reflections, or when a member of the audience wants to ask a question, they always start by appreciating, thanking and applauding the candidate for the amazing presentation. Whenever this happens I always feel cheated. I was praying for the presentation to end before I face the ultimate death by powerpoint, but now this guys are telling us how amazed and mesmerized they are by the presentation we just had. Sometimes, I turn around and check if I am actually in the same event as these guys. Now, I do not mean that the chair and examiner or the audience should say to the candidate ‘your presentation was terrible, you sounded like a dummy ‘elementary-schooler’  who was trying to read a foreign language for the first time, and I almost died waiting for your presentation to end’. No, I don’t think we should say that, nor do I think we have brave enough souls among us, to give such a bald and honest comment. Neither am I against our culture of being humble and finding good in everything. What I am saying is that we should not lie. If a presentation, a paper or a work was bad, at least we should not say it was outstanding, unless we mean outstanding in a bad way! and if we want to practice our culture of paying complement In whatever situation, we can appreciate the new, shiny suits, and polished sharp new brand shoes that that candidates wear during their defense. Only if they could care to polish their theses , they way they do their new shoes and suits …

2. Shallow and simplistic comments and inputs from external examiners. I am not trying to generalize here, but more often than not, external examiners dwell too much on minor editorial and typographical mistakes and pay little or no attention to the actual contribution or content of the postgraduate research. Over the years, I have observed examiners debating if a certain form of sampling should be named simple random sampling or systematic sampling, instead of actually debating on whether  a particular type of sampling, procedure or design is appropriate for answering a given research question. I know candidates need to write the right nomenclature , but the level of obsession to a minor issue like naming is beyond me to understand. Similarly, examiners give comments like your abstract does not contain the right number if words, you missed a comma between two key words etc., instead of actually commenting on whether the abstract provides or misses a relevant content.

My guess is that this happens, because examiners, usually, may not be experts in the subject matter of the thesis they are given to examine. This also happens because of limited number of specialists in some specific fields and the logistics difficulty of bringing some professor from the other corner of the country to examine a thesis. Examination coordinators usually choose those who are easily accessible, living nearby and those who are not too busy to be able to come on to a pre-scheduled event.

3. Not addressing disagreements between the adviser and examiners The standards of research, science writing  and communication, among the academic community in Ethiopia are too diverse,  that I usually hear examiners providing suggestions opposite to what has been suggested by the candidate’s adviser.  Sometimes, because of honest mistakes or actually divergent points of views on some issue, the suggestions and views of the adviser and the examiners may vary. Opposing views are good, but I have never seen any adviser or examiners saying ‘no, you are wrong ‘ to one another ‘. It is culturally important for the adviser and examiner (who are usually in the same academic rank or footing)  to save each other faces in front of an audience. Thus they put the blame on the candidate. Perhaps it is because they know they will unfairly blame the candidate that they start  by generously pouring vain compliments!

4. The grading system– the grading system of theses that we use, I believe is usually ridiculous, and unfair at its best What happens is the examiners and the chair agree on a mark given to a theses which ranges from fail to excellent. The problem is not this. Usually, there will be multiple defenses in one event, and regardless of the quality of a work, the grading of the first thesis, which is publicly announced before the start of the next defense, will always have an impact on the grades of the subsequent theses. I remember in one such occasion, a ‘not very brilliant’ thesis was graded excellent. I was examining a thesis after that. Mine happens to be a decently prepared and defended one, I liked it, but have already decided it doesn’t deserve an excellent grade, because I also gave some comments and suggestions which were of substantial nature.  The challenges, however, was that this particular thesis was by far more deserving than the one which was rated excellent before it. It was therefore, impossible for me and other members of the examination committee rate it very good (or any other grade below excellent). As a result we assigned an excellent grade, despite our clear consensus that it missed some important components.

These are just some flaws in the thesis examination procedure that is being followed across many universities in Ethiopia. Do you think these are important problems? Do you know any other problems? Can you suggest how these can be improved?

Radio interview: How fig trees shaped our world, changed history and can enrich our future

This interview reminds of me my own fascination working with on Fig species the Ficus thonningii in northern Ethiopia. Figs are indeed magical and hold a lot of potential for adapting to a changing climate

Under The Banyan

Figs and fig wasps (Photo: Jnzl’s Photos, Flickr CC BY 2.0)

Public Radio International’s environmental news show Living on Earth has interviewed me about my new book, which tells how fig trees have shaped our world, influenced diverse cultures and can help us restore life to degraded rainforests. The book is published in the UK as Ladders to Heaven and in North America as Gods, Wasps and Stranglers.

You can listen  below or vist Living on Earth’s website for a full transcript and photos.

Visit this page for more information about the book and advance reviews from Annie Proulx, Deborah Blum, Michael Pollan, Sy Montgomery, Fred Pearce, Simran Sethi and Thomas Lovejoy and others.


Photo credit: Jnzl’s Photos, Flickr CC BY 2.0

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