Building human resources for natural resource management in Afghanistan and Tajikistan

This piece was originally published on the Aga Khan Development Network’s website.

As part of its aim to identify the major knowledge gaps in the region and build the human resources necessary to fill those gaps, the University of Central Asia’s (UCA) Mountain Societies Research Institute (MSRI) has developed a modular Certificate in Natural Resource Management (CNRM) programme. Twenty-five academics and development professionals from Afghanistan and Tajikistan participated, representing Badakhshan University, Bamyan University (Afghanistan), Khorog State University (Tajikistan), and various institutions of the Aga Khan Development Network in Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

As part of developing sustainable land management practices, the University of Central Asia has established bean research plots in the Yakowlang district in the Bamyan region of Afghanistan. Photo credit: Aziz Ali Khan / AKDN

The CNRM is a post-graduate, 30 ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) programme. The three-week intensive training programme was conducted from 14 July to 4 August 2019 at UCA in Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan). Modules covered the concepts of sustainability and land management, integrated agricultural management and food systems, livelihoods in rural mountain communities, natural hazards and disaster risk reduction, as well as climate change adaptation.

As part of the CNRM programme, Badakhshan University, Bamyan University, and Khorog State University conducted 4-5 day training workshops on Natural Resource Management (NRM) for over 120 faculty members and students in their respective universities in November and December 2019. Additional training is ongoing within each university — using the course materials that were provided by MSRI. On average, 43% of participants were female.

The CNRM course is part of the objectives of the University of Central Asia’s (UCA) Mountain Societies Research Institute (MSRI). Through its Pathways to Innovation: Strengthening Mathematics, Science & Economic Policy in Afghanistan and Central Asia project — which is supported by the International Research Development Centre (IDRC), Canada, and the Aga Khan Foundation Canada — MSRI is strengthening science and educational capacity. It supports interdisciplinary environmental research with partners Khorog State University in Tajikistan, and Bamyan and Badakhshan Universities in Afghanistan. It also offers technical support for applied research projects, as well as the development of a Certificate Programme in Natural Resources Management.

MSRI has supported 11 research projects led by partner university faculty, which address diverse thematic areas under the framework of sustainable mountain development. Its aim is to identify the major knowledge gaps in the region, including research on food systems and agronomy; water and sanitation; environmental monitoring and conservation; and sustainable tourism for rural income generation.


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