In March 2018, three students set off on a field trip to Southern Ethiopia to collect data for Bachelor- and Master thesis and contribute to the WoodCluster project by TU Dresden and its partner universities. We are Conrad Drünert, Asabeneh Alemayehu and Florian Thiem, and our research topics cover landscape management, Eucalyptus value chain and growth of small scale plantations in the WoodCluster study area.
In the beginning of the trip we were accompanied by Dr. Haubold from the Institute for Geography in Dresden, who guided us through his long work experience in Ethiopia. We arrived at the beautiful Wondo Genet College of Forestry where we were warmly welcomed by Professor Tsegaye and Shibire Bekele, a former master’s student from Tharandt.
After a few days of familiarising with the local culture and the natural surroundings at 2000m above sea level, we payed a first visit to the study village of Chefasine, about 45 minutes from the College by local transport. There we were introduced to the local administration officers, who were happy to give us a first impression of the village and its inhabitants. During the following weeks, we were busy researching on our topics and collect data through observations, measurements and interviews.
Due to the help of the local people, it was easy to get in contact with the responsible owners and we were able to conduct several interviews and explore different ways of agricultural and forestry production systems. In the evenings, we enjoyed many scenic sunsets on the shores of Lake Hawassa or took the opportunity to take a swim in the natural hot springs next to the College in Wondo Genet. When it came to food, we were lucky to be in the country both during the fasting season and for the Easter celebration. Therefore, in the beginning we could taste a great variety of vegan foods called “Bayenatu”, which looks and tastes pretty much amazing. On Easter Sunday, the streets were covered with goat fur and a whole new tasting season began.
By Florian Thiem