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Cornell's Collaboration with Bahir Dar University of Ethiopia

Past Research in Ghana

Past Research in Mali

International Research Projects:

Art, Science, and the Thirsty World: Video

The video is based on a project created by Cayenna Ponchione (Conductor, D. Phil Candidate, Oxford) and Gail Holst-Warhaft (Director, Mediterranean Studies Initiative, Adjunct Prof. Com. Lit., BEE)

The project involved graduate students from Oxford and Cornell in collaborative initiatives where young scientists and humanities students worked together to produce a presentation that would draw attention to water scarcity.

The project was inspired, in turn, by the research that Gail Holst-Warhaft, Tammo Steenhuis, other Cornell faculty and students had carried out in previous years on the island of Crete.

The video is on display during Summer 2015 at Expo 2015, in Venice.

Crete Cistern Experiencing Low Water Levels

Developing a Water Profile of Neapolis, Crete, Greece

Water management is imperative to the cultural, economical, and ecological stability of arid regions like the Mediterranean. In the south central Crete (Greece), aquifer levels have dropped nearly 40 meters in the past 10-15 years because of increases in water demand for agriculture. While many arid regions have failed to put specific management plans in place, the Municipality of NNeapolis on the island of Crete, Greece has partnered with Cornell University to proactively manage their limited water supplies.

The Neapolis Water Profile was one specific outcome of this partnership. It provides a ‘snapshot’ of the current status of water resources in the Municipality of Neapolis, Crete, Greece from the point of view of three graduate student researchers: a lawyer (Michael Bowes), a social scientist (Margaret Kurth), and an environmental engineer (Sheila Saia). It is their hope that the water profile, ‘be used to (1) develop an integrated water resources management plan for the region, (2) objectively analyze future improvements related to water resources conservation, and (3) encourage educational, legislative, and financial support for water conservation practices throughout the region and abroad.’

Soil and Water Lab people working on this project: Sheila Saia

Principal Investigator: Tammo Steenhuis

Funding Source: Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future


Soil and Water Stability and Conservation in Ethiopia

Current research in Ethiopia pertains to managing food systems and poverty reduction strategies with the ultimate goal of improving the livelihood of poor farmers while promoting sustainable natural resource management principles.

Current research is mainly tailored to address acute water scarcity problems by designing and implementing effective soil and water conservation and water harvesting structures. These structures are based on the hydrology of watersheds and other socio economic & demographic factors. Another aspect of existing research includes enhancing rainfall productivity of degraded soils by improving macro-pore networks and associated soil physical properties by using biochar and deep-rooted biofuel crops. This work will enable storage of more rainfall water within the soil profile itself.

Field research methods include surface and subsurface water flow measurements, sediment sampling both from test plots and watershed outlets, interviewing farmers, satellite imagery and spatial modeling analysis, production of biochar from biomass obtained from farm resources (dung, trees and crop residue) and incorporation into test soil plots.

Soil and Water Lab people working on this project: Christian Guzman, Haimanote Bayabil, and Tigist Tebebu