Conducting researches relevant to Eritrea’s development sectors is a prerequisite that is expected to make a difference in nation building. That is why the National Higher Education and Research Institute encourages research activities that are expected to take the country’s multifaceted development programs to a new height. Dr. Haile Mehtsun, Executive Director of National Higher Education and Research Institute stressed on the importance of integrated research activities that make positive impact towards societal wellbeing.
As part of the overall efforts being exerted in the education sector, the National Commission of Higher Education, in 2013, established Eritrea Research Fund (ERF) in collaboration with various partners such as the Ministry of Finance, the PFDJ, Ministry of National Development and UNDP in a bid to encourage and institute a vibrant culture of research in Eritrean Institutions of Higher Education and in sector ministries.
Prof. Zemnfes Tsighe said that the ERF organized research findings sharing work shop for the second time. The first study on Eritrean studies was held from 17 to 18 December 2015. Besides funding the latest 13 research papers in agriculture, marine resources, education and health sectors, the ERF’s long term plan is to provide financial support to researchers in institutions of higher education, ministries, post graduate students, Eritreans in Diaspora and expatriate researchers engaged in independent and high quality research on Eritrean issues and research problems.
In the second research findings sharing workshop held on 16 February 2018, various papers related to education, marine resources and studies of high ecological significance were shared.
“Educating Children with Developmental Disabilities in Special Classroom of Regular Schools: A Case Study of Eritrea” was part of the research papers discussed during the one-day workshop.
Children with sensory disabilities in special schools and prevailing difficulties were studied. For instance, the research conducted on the provision of education to citizens with mental disabilities identified lack of certified and formally entrusted teacher for special classroom service (job) as a challenge in the transfer of knowledge to such students who need special care.
The research on educating children with disabilities highlights the need of providing special training to teachers who are expected to play a role in the cognitive development of such students.
“Biochemical Composition of Selected Seaweeds from Northern Red Sea of Massawa Coast of Eritrea and their Utilization” gave a new insight into regards the nutritional, ecological and commercial importance of seaweeds.
In his presentation about the various benefits of seaweeds, Mr. Mogos Girmatision, explained that Seaweeds (macro-algae) are plant-like organisms that exist in Green, Brown and Red forms. A wide variety of seaweeds are among the marine resources of the Massawa coastal line. Hence, seaweeds are potentially good sources of proteins, polysaccharides, minerals and certain vitamins which makes them nutritionally more valuable than many vegetables.
Among the collected samples a total of ten were selected depending on their abundance, and the study revealed that seaweeds in Massawa coast are nutritionally beneficial. Thus, various food products and recipes can be developed for consumption by the community. Apart from nutritional benefits seaweeds in the Massawa coastline have an essential element that can be used in the production of fertilizers and biogas.
A “Comparative study on Primary Productivity of Selected Sites around Massawa Coast” presented by Ms. Haylayt Ghebreslasie shed light on the benefits of organic production that determines the potential of fisheries activities. Thus identifying the primary production is beneficial for the profitable exploitation of the living resources from the sea.
Ms. Halayt further described that the rate as well as the extent of organic production determines the relative yield of different regions of the sea. The quantum of organic production can indicate the fishery potential of a particular region.
The objective of the study was to provide base line data about productivity in Massawa coast so as to compare productivity in the three different coastal environments in Hirgigo bay, Girar bay and Gurgusum beach.The study on primary production was conducted in three stations and no significant difference was observed in Net Primary Production among the three Stations.
In depth discussions on other topics related to the preservation of marine resources were also shared with the participants and experts with different specialties. “A comparative study of quality of dried Anchovy (Amentum hetoboloum) using sun and solar tent drying” a research paper on effective fish preservation mechanisms presented by Mr. Negasi Tsige, who highlighted that simple fish drying techniques can play a major role in the realization of food security. The study indicates that a natural fish drying technique is more preferable while solar tent drying is also an alternative. Both techniques are effective in the preservation of fish without any loss of nutritional content.
“Length-Weight relationship and gut content analysis of spot tail shark (carcharhinus sorrah) in the southern Red Sea region”, a paper by Mr. Teklehaymonot Beraki, tries to record the baseline data of the shark species which are found in the Eritrean waters and attempts to bring a new understanding about the biology of sharks. The research, as explained during the presentation session is expected to contribute to the base line data of shark fisheries, like species caught by the artisanal fisheries, dominant catch species, length-weight relationship and feeding habit of the studied shark species, thereby playing an essential role in optimizing and strengthening the stock assessment, management and making decisions of the shark fisheries in Eritrean waters.
“Assessment of the Terres trial Faunal Diversity in the Gulf of Zula” a research conducted to detect rare and threatened species that are slow to recover, to identify mechanisms that could support species whose presence is a prerequisite for the persistence of other species and to study the significance of such species in maintaining environmental quality and equilibrium was discussed at length.
According to Mr. Rezene Habte, various species that are of high seasonal importance and crucial towards ensuring balanced biodiversity were detected in the preliminary studies. They include thirty eight bird species, one frog and six lizard species, two snake and seven mammalian species. Generally, 54 distinct species of birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals were also identified in the survey. “Of all taxonomic groups, the most common species were birds and lizards,” Mr. Rezene emphasized.
The research also identified several factors that contribute to the low level of understanding and concern on the Eritrean biodiversity. Amphibians and reptiles are not used as sources of food for humans but are easily-accessed as alternative sources of protein. Ornamental uses or aquaculture practices are also not yet known.
“Dekemhare Granitoid Complex: a late-tectonic magma interaction” presented by Mr. Woldegabriel Gnezebu, Department of Earth Sciences, was the last paper discussed in the research findings workshop.
“This research tried to study the intrusive body of Dekemhare area in some details by conducting many field observations along different traverses and collecting samples for different types of analysis.” Mr. Woldegabriel Said. “Dekemhare intrusive is showing wider range of silica and narrow range of alkalis, which show evidence of extensive fractionation in the parent magma.”
All the 13 research papers which cover a wide range of fields were of paramount importance. Besides their secular benefits, such studies through the active participation of experts from various specialties will have a positive impact in speeding up the national development priorities.
Prof. Zemnfes Tsighe gave a closing remark expressing deep appreciation to all participants of the workshop, the researchers and stakeholders who made contribution in funding all research activities. The professor finally affirmed that the ERF will sustain efforts to support research activities that are relevant to the Eritrean context.