A regional academic advisory board for programs in aquaculture and fisheries sciences has been established. The board has since elected a Kenyan Professor, Ruth Otunga, 58, to lead the board.
The board, meeting for the first meeting in Lilongwe, Malawi, is responsible for quality assurance in the implementation of the regional PhD in the sciences which the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar) is hosting for the Sub-Sahara region.
Professor Otunga is also the vice Chancellor of the University of Eldoret in Kenya.
Malawi contributes two to the currently six-member board with Luanar’s Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Emmanuel Kaunda, whose institution hosts the secretariat of the board being joined by Dr Daniel Jamu from FISH Project.
Other members of the board include Dr Stephen John Bulirwa from Uganda’s National Research Council; Professor Jay R. Stauffer, Jr, from Pennyslavia State University, USA; Professor Warwick Sauer from Rhodes University in South Africa.
Reacting to her election, Otunga –the only female in the board – pledged professionalism in leading the Board which she says is crucial to growing the region’s food and nutritional security.
“This is never a one man show. It will require concerted efforts from all stakeholders and apart from being responsible for quality assurance; the board will also be responsible in phasing out the programme to other member universities, and deciding on courses that may be done in other member universities as part of the joint-degree training.”
Otunga also said the board will also seek to influence policy for adoption of the PhD program in Sub-Saharan Africa and facilitate alignment of the PhD program to harmonized regional qualification frameworks.
Minutes of the meeting indicate that the role of the Chairperson of the Board will be rotating annually among the participating countries/universities but the secretariat will remain at Luanar’s Bunda campus in Lilongwe.
In Malawi alone, fish accounts for 60-70 per cent of annual animal protein intake by the population, according to experts. In addition, the fisheries sector is an important source of employment and income for a considerable number of people; hence the board seeking to enhance capacity in those trained in the sector.