Yilikal Anteneh would like to address the problem of poor natural resource management and conservation in Ethiopia, and is driven to make a positive impact in this field. His research project aims to support integrated water management systems for improved agriculture activities on the Aki River Basin. This basin is one of the major water supplies for Addis Ababa. His impetus for undertaking this research is to encourage better management programs, particularly those dealing with soil and water conservation issues. Yilikal believes agriculture is the backbone of Ethiopia’s economy as it makes up 50% of the economy and 70% of its natural resources. However, in recent years, Ethiopian agriculture has fallen behind national targets due to land grant issues, unsustainable farming practices, pollution, and climate change. Yilikal has worked for the Works and Urban Development Bureau on urban management and capacity building projects, and is currently serving as a lecturer and department chair at Arba Minch University.
Yilikal was awarded a Fall 2015 Borlaug LEAP fellowship for his research titled: Integrated Catchement Management (ICM) for Improved Agricultural Productivity through Upstream-Downstream Functional Ecosystem Linkages in the Akaki River Basin. He worked with Dr. Phillip Alderman at Oklahoma State University and Dr. Wolde Mekuria Bori, who is currently conducting research at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) in Ethiopia. Dr. Alderman is professor in the University's department of Plant and Soil Sciences and his research is focused on characterizing the climate's impacts on agricultural systems and on developing strategies to improve the resilience of these systems. He assisted Yilikal in developing and utilizing various simulation techniques in order to estimate soil loss rates and the effects of erosion in small farm-based settings. Dr. Mekuria is a researcher specializing in land resource management, and has published several papers that focus on a variety of topics concerning land use and productivity. He assisted Yilikal with data collection and surveying in Ethiopia. Yilikal expects to complete his research and defend his thesis by 2017.