As the water quality in Lake Tana, Ethiopia slowly degrades, the ecosystem of the surrounding watershed is beginning to shift. Mamaru Ayalew Moges, a Spring 2015 Borlaug LEAP Fellow, is interested in studying these changes in order to perhaps reverse, or at least slow, this shift and employ safeguards to preserve water resources for the future. Using state of the art modeling and mapping techniques as well as on-site data collection, he hopes to find the nature of the pollutants in the watershed and how its effects can be minimized or removed entirely. He will be looking at chlorophyll and sediment levels as well as phosphorus levels to identify pollution “hot spots” within the watershed. This data will hopefully aid in increasing food security within Ethiopia, as Lake Tana has important agricultural significance. In addition, Ethiopia is part of the Feed the Future USAID initiative and one of the mains goals of that initiative is to find sustainable ways of increasing food security through cooperation with local governments. Mamaru hopes to work with policy-makers to help further that goal using his current research.
Even prior to attending Bahir Dar University, Mamaru had significant experience in the Water Management field. He was the head of the Water and Irrigation Department in Agew, near Lake Tana, and worked in conjunction with a Finnish NGO to create sustainable water and irrigation projects. He first joined Bahir Dar University as a Master’s student and was made an assistant professor upon completion of his degree. After finishing his PhD he hopes to continue to teach at Bahir Dar and use his leadership skills and experience in the area of water management to instruct the future generation. Mamaru believes his vision, focus, and dedication to his field will help motivate those he instructs and will carry on the legacy of Dr. Norman Borlaug’s tireless work in Africa and around the world.
Mamaru headed over to Cornell University to work under the mentorship of Dr. Tammo Steenhuis. Dr. Steenhuis has worked with both Bahir Dar University and the Borlaug LEAP Fellowship in the past and has proven to be a tireless advocate of sustainable water engineering and management in developing countries. While at Cornell, Mamaru expanded his knowledge of modeling and data interpretation techniques in their Soil and Water Lab. He also working with Dr. Teklu Erkossa at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), currently an International Researcher in their Productive Water Use department. As an Ethiopian national, Dr. Erkossa is well acquainted with the water issues facing the country and he helped Mamaru focus and direct his research efforts. Mamaru is expected to receive his PhD in Integrated Water Management in 2016.