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NUFFIC has awarded funding to two NICHE projects

NUFFIC has awarded funding to two NICHE projects of the ITC Faculty of the University of Twente. The aim of the projects is to strengthen education and training capacity in developing countries, and they thus align seamlessly with the mission of the ITC Faculty. In the first project, the Tanzania-Netherlands Energy Project, ITC will collaborate with various other knowledge institutes to achieve a range of goals which include strengthening energy-related education in the field of geothermics as well as gas extraction in Tanzania and on Zanzibar. The second project involves, among other things, strengthening the Eastern Africa Land Administration Network (EALAN) and building capacity in land administration and land governance in eight East African countries.


In the first project, researchers from the ITC Faculty are collaborating closely with scientists from Utrecht University, Delft University of Technology and Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen. Under the leadership of ITC they are strengthening energy education and research in the field of geothermics and gas extraction, focusing on three partners in Tanzania and on Zanzibar. These are the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), the Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology (DIT) and the Karume Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) on Zanzibar.

This programme, entitled Tanzania-Netherlands Energy Project, focuses on a range of issues that include staff training, setting up short courses, creating new curricula, improving the gender balance, setting up a knowledge centre in which the education institutes will work together closely with the business community and formulating new lines of research. A budget has also been set aside for the acquisition of laboratory and simulation equipment.

According to project manager Dinand Alkema the project is an ideal match for the ITC mission: to increase capacity in developing countries. “With this project we aim to improve the knowledge infrastructure in Tanzania and on Zanzibar. It’s a great chance to realize the goals that they themselves have defined."

Since Tanzania has major potential in the area of geothermics and there is supposedly a lot of gas below the surface, this will not only benefit the local partners but also offer opportunities for Dutch businesses and Dutch knowledge institutes. As Alkema explains: “It’s a win-win situation for everyone.”

This project, led by ITC’s Frank Ruitenbeek, is set to run for four years and is being funded by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs with a sum of 1.8 million euros. Two-thirds of this will go directly to the partners in Tanzania and Zanzibar, while 300,000 euros are earmarked for activities by the researchers at the ITC Faculty. The official project kick-off will be around the summer of this year.


The second project, the ‘Strengthening the regional EALAN network to build capacity in Land Administration and Land Governance in the Great Lakes Region’ project, involves a collaboration by ITC, the Dutch Kadaster, MDF (a training and consultancy company based in Ede) and the Kenya-based Land Development and Governance Institute (LDGI). As a consortium they aim to strengthen the EALAN network – which to date has been informal and voluntary – to which twelve universities in eight different East African countries are affiliated. The programme has three key objectives: improving land administration, improving land governance and improving access to land for women and vulnerable groups.

Four outputs are anticipated for this project: aiming to strengthen the management, coordination and assessment of the network’s activities (Network & Secretariat Work Package); aiming to enhance professionalism by offering short courses to land administration professionals (Short Courses Work Package); aiming to develop/review curricula and linking land administration education to the labour market needs (Education Work Package); and aiming to establish a shared research strategy among the participating institutions, and conducting comparative research by which results would be communicated to shape emerging polices and best practices (the Research Work Package).

According to Monica Lengoiboni, an ITC staff member involved in the project, the power of the network lies in the collaboration between the various universities and countries. “They can learn a lot from each other and adopt each other’s best practices.”

This project, which is led by ITC’s Professor Jaap Zevenbergen and recently became operational, is also scheduled for four years and is receiving 1 million euros of funding. The African partners are Ardhi University (Tanzania), Bahir Dar University (Ethiopia), University of Woldia (Ethiopia), INES Ruhengeri (Rwanda), University of Rwanda (Rwanda), University of Burundi (Burundi), Makerere University (Uganda), University of Juba (South Sudan), Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (Kenya), Technical University of Kenya (Kenya), University of Nairobi (Kenya) and Université Évangelique de Bukavu (Democratic Republic of Congo).


The aim of the NICHE programme (Netherlands Initiative for Capacity development in Higher Education) is to sustainably strengthen education and training capacity in developing countries. The Dutch government, working via NUFFIC, funds projects within the programme in which Dutch organizations share their expertise. The programme is fully demand-oriented, meaning that the partner countries themselves indicate the areas in which they require support.