A broad dialogue on education and research partnership among University of Rhode Island, USA, and different academic and research organizations in Nepal has been initiated with a talk even at Tribhuvan University on 25 October 2017. The talk was hosted by the Central Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, Tribhuvan University, Department of Meteorology/Trichandra Multiple Campus, Nepal and The Small Earth Nepal, Nepal, which was chaired by Professor Suresh Raj Chalise. About 30 participants from various academic and research organizations like Kathmandu University, Nepal Academy of Science and Technology, Nepal Agriculture Research Council, International Water Management Institute, International Center for Integrated Mountain Development, participated in the meeting. Similarly, representatives from government agencies and private organizations working in water and energy sector, such as Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, and Himal Hydro Limited also participated in the program.
The main objectives of this meeting was to develop ideas for research activities and capacity building of partners in water and water related sectors, to form water consortium fostering partnership and collaboration with academic institutions, local enterprises, governments and NGO’s and lastly, to build educational programs, conduct research and develop innovative solutions for global water related problems.
The head of CDHM/TU Dr. Deepak Aryal opened the meeting by introducing the participants to interesting research and areas of work done by CDHM/TU, their current national and international projects. He showed keen interest in engaging young and dynamic graduate students, a willingness for more collaborative works with national and international institutes, technology advancement in research laboratories and generate more funding for research.
Mr. Dhiraj Pradhananga, Assistant Professor at Trichandra Multiple Campus, Tribhuvan University, and President at The Small Earth Nepal, introduced different research and capacity building works done by SEN in the past and their ongoing research areas and projects. He showed a keen interest on collaborating through Science- Policy- Community interactions and see if they can be influential to the communities. He introduced number of initiatives and research areas that the organization is currently working on emphasizing on the importance of collaborative work and capacity development as very important tools for making change. Mr. Pradhananga also left a powerful statement at the end of his presentation, “small thoughts make big impact”.
Similarly, Dr. Madan Lall Shrestha, academician of NAST spoke along the same lines as Mr. Pradhananga and introduced collaborative research initiatives like Adaptation of Climate Change for Livestocks in Gandaki Region of Nepal. The impact of climate change is making it difficult for livelihood of farmers in these areas. Another collaborative initiative he mentioned was the ‘Runoff Scenario and Water Based Adaptation Strategy in South Asia’ and mentioned the need for improving skills in order to promote sustainable watershed management. Both these references show a very good example of how complex the Himalayan terrain is and considered a very difficult region to research and study on. However, he suggested that it is not impossible and should be encouraged especially for rainfall and temperature predictions putting a spotlight on research, development and policy as three fundamental areas where a lot of work is needed to be done, and has a lot of potential to be explored further.
The representative from the University of Rhode Island, Dr. Soni M. Pradhananga gave a brief introduction to her various research activities, laboratory works and talked about her student’s research activities and projects. She emphasized on the need for technologically advanced research and use of newer instruments in the research process.
Another representative from the university, Dr. Brook Ross gave an overview on the University of Rhode Island, their courses and their priorities. He also spoke in detail about the university’s various partnership models for Nepal like opportunities for joint publications, customized trainings, degree upgrading, exchange programs for students as well as faculty members, study abroad, long terms strategic collaboration etc. He showed keen interest in ‘taking science and implementing them within the community’.
The moderator of the talk Professor Rameshwar Adhikary, Executive Director at Research Centre for Applied Science and Technology (RECAST), Tribhuvan University, expressed his appreciation for raising important issues through the ongoing dialogue and manifested the dire need for action based research, collaboration and implementation of science within the community. He stressed on the seriousness of issues of access to water/ water resources in many regions and finding sustainable ways to manage them by strengthening the collaboration process, building long term strategic plans and using newer models for action research.
Various suggestions were given during the discussions by the participants on how actions based research can be implemented into communities and not simply kept within the published works. While some suggestions focused on more systematic analysis, the others has more social aspect to it that, involving communities and people, usage of indigenous knowledge along with scientific research. The participants also agreed to the need for scientific finding translated into community and also questioned if it is possible to ‘make sure that things are not lost into translation’. Issues of integrated data system were also discussed where participants agreed to current data system being scattered therefore, pointing towards creating a common data portal which researchers and scientists can use for their study. The scientists among the participants also raised issues on funding generation for scientists which are very low emphasizing on the need for more collaboration with international scientists and proper communication modem through which both Nepali and as well as international scientists can have a path of communication to share and explore the knowledge on climatic issues.
Prof. Suresh Raj Chalise concluded the meeting by talking about few thematic areas, the areas in which the research activities can be immediately started like snow and glaciers, climate change in mountain areas, sustainable agriculture and food security. He stressed that these areas needed to be worked on as soon as possible. Prof. Chalise also drew attention to streamlining our current needs into actions but without clashing with the ongoing programs and projects concluding with the term “concretize” commitment of institutions for long term rather than short.