I completed my doctorate in the Department of Political and Cultural Change, Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn and in the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Hohenheim in October 2013.
I am in the process of analyzing the roles of institutions in determining the behavior and decision-making processes of local people, governmental and non-governmental organizations and conservationists. An example of key issues under consideration in my study include how the international, regional and local laws and policies on protected areas and biodiversity are practiced on the ground in the context in which local people who live inside and adjacent to protected areas have customary institutions embedded in culture that provide framework of actions for the people in their day-to-day life and in their interactions with nature and natural resources. The situation is characterized by conflicts between the dominantly conservation-oriented interests of international, regional and national policies and laws with their implementing agencies vis-à-vis the multiple-use development needs of local people who have been using, managing and conserving the resources based on their culture and inter-generational institutions of indigenous origin.
I hope, as a member of African Good Governance Network (in Germany), African Forest Forum (on the African level), Concern for Environment and Forestry Society of Ethiopia, that the knowledge and experience I obtain from the course can strengthen my capacity to make a better contribution to environmental component of governance and resource management in Africa in general and in Ethiopia in particular through the positive influences in policy processes. I have planned and committed to work in a university in Ethiopia to carry out research and to teach courses including natural resource conflict management and environmental policy to post-graduate and undergraduate students. Since the outreach program (working closely with communities and civil societies) has become part of a university’s mission in Ethiopia, the collaboration in strategic planning and practices in the context of rural and urban development will be part of my contribution as a staff member.
Girma returned to GESA 2013 as a resource person and is working with Fassil Gebeyehu (2011), Silva Materu (2013), Temesgen Olango (2013), Nickson Otieno (2011) and various GESA resource people to organise the Global Environments Regional Academy – East Africa, both funded by the Alumni Innovation Fund.
In October 2013, Girma was awarded a post-doctoral research scholarship by University of Bonn’s renowned Center for Development Research (ZEF) to work on a project on “Institutions, Livelihoods and Development in East African Forest Landscapes”. After the 7-month fellowship, he will return to his faculty position at Wondo Genet College of Forestry and Natural Resources (WGCF-NR), Hawassa University. He is keen to continue his research on culture-nature continuum and institutions of natural resource management and plans to train students in forest and biodiversity governance based on the knowledge and skills he acquired during his doctorate and postdoctoral research at ZEF. [Updated December 2013]