A common theme among the research topics Borlaug LEAP fellows undertake is the idea of sustainability in the face of climate change and environmental degradation and Ethiopian Eyaya Belay Bisewur’s work continues that trend. Eyaya was accepted as a 2016 Fall Borlaug LEAP fellow for his PhD research on how soil erosion and river discharge impact the eco-environmental vulnerability of the Guna Mountain watershed area in the Upper Blue Nile Basin. His research will allow for proper evaluation of the current environmental situation in the area and how proposed development, including the building of dams, will impact the ecological and agricultural systems currently in place and what sustainable solutions can be instituted as a result.
After completing his undergraduate and Master’s degrees in Earth Science and Geography at Addis Ababa University (AAU), Eyaya worked as a lecturer in the Geography and Environmental Studies department at the University of Gondar in Ethiopia. He went on to serve as the Dean of the Social Sciences and Humanities College there as well, and is currently on study leave from both positions as he pursues his PhD the Entoto Observatory and Research Center at AAU. During his time at Gondar University, he has also been involved in community watershed programs, coordinating people and resources to best serve the area’s needs. While already well established as a leader, Eyaya is excited to participate in the Borlaug LEAP fellowship not only as a way to further his research, but to hone his leadership skills for future projects.
Eyaya will be working with US mentor Dr. Asefa Melesse at Florida International University and Dr. Aleseged Tamiru Haile at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI). Dr. Melesse is a well-respected professor of Water Resources Engineering and has done extensive work with remote sensing and hydrological modeling and has produced many publications on those subjects. He will work with Eyaya to help him refine his remote sensing skills and how they relate to his research project. Dr. Tamiru Haile, a hydrological researcher who has explored the issues of climate change and proper watershed management, will work with Eyaya at IWMI to investigate the effects of river discharge on soil health and the surrounding environment. Eyaya plans to finish his PhD by mid-2018.