This month we catch up with Professor Marcel do Nascimento Botelho, who undertook a PhD with CIDT back in 2003. This was made possible through a DFID-funded partnership between CIDT, University of Wolverhampton and the Federal Rural University of Amazonia (Portuguese: Universidade Federal Rural da Amazônia, UFRA) a Brazilian public University located in Belem, Pará state, Brazil.
In 2017, after an election process, Marcel became Rector of UFRA. Since then, he has put into practice all the knowledge acquired from the Pro-UFRA project and his PhD course at CIDT-University of Wolverhampton, to establish UFRA as a key player in the sustainable development of the Amazon Region.
Leadership of higher education responses to combat COVID-19 in Pará state
Under Marcel’s leadership, UFRA has implemented important COVID-19 research initiatives and is now leading a research group conducting a series of analyses on COVID-19 to support state government in its decision-taking process. UFRA’s contribution has helped to reduce the number of deaths in Para state by 45%, and positively impacted upon the wider Brazilian economy. Through a single two-week period UFRA interventions reduced state death rates in Para’s population of 8 million by 14%. The research team are using Artificial Neural Nets to predict new cases, deaths and hospital infrastructure, using data in different ways for each region to help optimise use of resources.
In a recent letter to the UK Secretary of State concerning the success of COVID-19 initiatives, Marcel commented,
“Back in 2001 your Department generously supported a project run with the University of Wolverhampton and Harper Adams University College to support the strengthening of the Federal Rural University of the Amazon (UFRA) in Belem-Para-Brazil, of which I am the current Rector. As a consequence of that support our institution has become a key player in the development of the Amazon region.
“As I write, we are providing vital scientific advice to the local and state governments about the Corona Virus (Covid19) outbreak in our region. Our ability to do this is in no small part due to the support which we received from DFID, and I would wish to acknowledge this contribution and express my thanks for it once again.”
When did you attend CIDT and what you were studying?
I was a University Lecturer at UFRA when I was selected to attended CIDT for the MPhil/DPhil programme.
I started my course at CIDT in 2003 and returned to Brazil to conduct my field research at Universidade Federal Rural da Amazonia (UFRA). Essentially I studied several aspects of institutional and professional development applied to institutional strengthening, comparable to the ‘Rural Extension’ field of research.
I completed modules in: Development in practice; Effective Communication; Project Management; Research Methods; Advanced Research Skills; Social Perspsctives in Development Practice; and Research Methods and Project Design.
The following photos show Marcel during his time at CIDT
How did you find your time studying with us?
During my studies in CIDT I was exposed to an environment of International Development focused on building professional capacity for change. Thus, all classes, discussions with my professors and classmates and of course, the findings from my PhD research, helped me to understand the need to address change as a process that must be based on internal motivation rather than external factors and that the time for it to occur depends on the level of success in creating this internal motivation.
How has your career developed?
Following my studies, I returned to Belém, the capital of the state of Pará in Brazil in order to resume my work as a university lecturer at UFRA. In 2007 I was invited to be the International Advisor of UFRA when I supported two international agreements with the United States and France.
In 2009 I was elected Director of the Socio-environmental and Hydro Resources Institute (at UFRA) for a four year mandate. During those years I implemented a participatory management strategy to develop the actions and projects within the Institute. As a main result of this management strategy it was possible to triple our research and extension budget with high impact upon the academic community and civil society. Some of our professors earned local, regional and even international prizes for their work during this time. The use of action research, which I had introduced as part of my PhD studies as a tool for professional development, allowed our professors to enhance their classes with clear benefit to our students.
Following this I was appointed Teaching Pro-Rector from 2013 to 2017, with a focus on implementation of a course assessment and development program, and an academic control system. The first, was a huge success so that our undergraduate courses were, for the first time, ranked level B according to the national exams. The second, brought an accurate control to academic activities, but more importantly, brought the tools for online interactions amongst professors and students.
During this time, I was elected President of Teaching Pro-Rectors of all the Federal Universities of the Amazon region and Vice President of the National Group of Teaching Pro-Rectors. These two groups were focus on developing strategies to strengthen undergraduate course policies.
After becoming Rector of the Federal Rural University of Amazon via an election process, some achievements in Marcel’s tenure so far are:
- The second best university in the region according to Ministry of Education
- The best university in the use of public funding in the Amazon
- 80% of the undergrad courses classified at B or A rank
- The best Agronomy degree course in the Amazon
- Permanent member of most boards of Agrobusiness in Para
Individually, and as a result of the performance of UFRA, he received recognition including:
- Agronomist of the year in 2017
- Personality of Agribusiness in 2018
- Commendation Order of Merit Cabanagem 2017
- Commendation Honor to Merit of Education 2018
- Commendation Merit of Civil Defence 2019
The following photos show Marcel in his role as lecturer and Rector, as well as receiving an agronomy award:
You can view some of Marcel’s publications using the links below:
- Rocha, J. E. C. ; Souza Junior, G. N. ; Brito, S. R. ; Folador, A. R. C. ; Ramos, R. T. J. ; Braga, M. B.; Botelho, M. N. . Redes Neurais Artificiais Na Previsão De Contágio E Óbitos Por Covid-19: Um Estudo No Estado Do Pará, Brasil. International Journal Of Development Research, V. 10, P. 35416-35421, 2020.
- SOUSA, Adriano Marlisom Leão De; ROCHA, Edson José Paulino Da ; Vitorino, M. Isabel ; Souza, Paulo Jorge De Oliveira Ponte D ; BOTELHO, M. N. . Variabilidade Espaco-Temporal Da Precipitação Na Amazônia Durante Eventos Enos. Revista Brasileira De Geografia Física, V. 8, P. 13-24, 2015
- Sousa, Adriano Marlison Leão De ; Vitorino, Maria Isabel ; Castro, Nilza Maria Dos Reis ; Botelho, M. N.; Souza, Paulo Jorge Oliveira Ponte De . Evapotranspiration From Remote Sensing To Improve The Swat Model In Eastern Amazonia. Floram – Revista Floresta E Ambiente, V. 4, P. 1-9, 2015.
The Chairman of the Somali Ecological Society, Mohamoud Ibrahim and the Head of CIDT, Professor Philip Dearden signed an important Memorandum of Understanding on 27th July 2017.
During a visit to CIDT by seven members of the Somali Ecological Society, the two organisations agreed to work together for the rebuilding of Somalia especially in relation to Capacity Strengthening in Natural Resource Management and Climate Compatible Development.
The Somali Ecological Society (SES) is a non-profit environmental NGO set up in the 1980s to promote the conservation of flora and fauna in Somalia and the sustainable utilisation of Somalia’s natural resources.
The SES members reside in Somalia as well as in the Diaspora; – many are PhD and Masters holder in the natural sciences, with strong links with the Somali Government (both South and North).
The Somali Government is seeking assistance from the SES to help rebuild national capacity of the natural resources sector after 30 years of civil war. In turn the SES have asked CIDT to partner in this task because of long-standing historic links. In the 1980s a number of CIDT staff were actively engaged in capacity strengthening of the natural resources sector in Somalia through training and education. A number of SES members are alumni of the University of Wolverhampton having studied at CIDT in the 1980s.
Sunil Kumar Pariyar from Nepal who was a participant of the CIDT improving forest governance course in 2012 has just published a book about A Dalit’s Struggle Inside Green Forest.
Sunil Kumar Pariyar is the Chairperson of the Dalit Alliance for Natural Resources (DANAR) – Nepal and worked with the Livelihoods and Forestry Programme (LFP) funded by UK Aid and supported by CIDT.
Sunil attended the 2011/2 Nepal – Improving Forestry Governance course which was split between Telford in the UK and Pokhara and Kathmandu in Nepal.
CIDT are currently helping Sunil search for funding to translate his book into English. If you would like to support this please contact us at CIDT@wlv.ac.uk.
Below: Nepal – Improving Forestry Governance Group photograph at Centre for International Development and Training (CIDT) University of Wolverhampton, Telford Campus, UK
Below: Sunil and other course participants on a home visit.
Below: Facilitation Skills Practice in Pokhara with invited Forest Governance stakeholders
Below: Illegal Logging Meeting in Kathmandu attended by 96 Forestry Governance key stakeholders 14th March 2012
Vice Chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton hosts Alumni evening to celebrate 30 years of work in Cameroon
On 22nd June 2016 Professor Geoff Layer hosted an Alumni Evening at the Mont Fébé hotel in Yaoundé for Cameroonian Alumni.
To start the evening Philip Dearden, Head of the Centre for International Development and Training (CIDT) gave a short presentation on CIDT’s 30 years of work in Cameroon. View his presentation here.
Below: Professor Geoff Layer, Philip Dearden and Ghislain Defo discussing the evening
Below: Philip Dearden greeting Steve Evans and his wife Elaine Evans from the British High Commission.
Below: Vice Chancellor Professor Geoff Layer welcoming alumni and guests
Below: Famous Cameroonian footballer Roger Milla (who is a roving ambassador for the University of Wolverhampton) also gave a short speech and talked about his foundation which is supported by the University of Wolverhampton.
Event featured on Cameroonian TV
This event was featured on Cameroonian TV’s Canal 2 on Tuesday 28 June 2016. You can watch it below. The broadcast is in French, but still gives a flavour of the event.
Photos from the evening
CIDT bid farewell to the 46 participants of the 2015 Improving Forest Governance, who returned to their 22 countries of origin to put new learning into practice. Mr Hugh Speechly closed the IFG course on behalf of the European Forestry Institute (EFI), one of the key course sponsors, along with DFID. Hugh emphasised six broad dimensions of governance, including voice and accountability, rule of law, control of corruption and regulatory quality. Echoing a recent Chatham House report, he noted that Governance reforms in many producer countries have slowed and getting back on track will require a step change in political commitment and willingness to tackle more difficult governance issues. Applying governance trends to participants’ own countries, he challenged the participants on what they could do to make a difference upon their return.
In the final weeks of the course, participants chose from optional modules on Forests and Climate Change, Training of Trainers, Project Proposal Writing and Gender in Forest Governance. These modules were designed deepen knowledge, but also to equip participants to share learning upon return. Working with a personal tutor, each participant developed a personal action plan, detailing concrete practical steps to contribute to improving forest governance upon return home.
CIDT wishes all alumni well and look forward to connecting again in six months, when we follow up on participant action plans and impact.
Images from the closing day of IFG 2015
Vijay Shrestha was presented with the University’s Alumnus of the Year: Contribution to Society Award as part of the University’s Business Achievement Awards 2013 at the Molineux Stadium in June. The award is presented to a graduate who has made a significant contribution to or transformed the lives of others.
Vijay was selected for the award for the significant contributions he has made to the development of his home country, Nepal – often cited as one of the poorest countries in the world. After graduating from the University of Wolverhampton, he worked with the University of Wolverhampton’s Centre for International Development and Training (CIDT) as Programme Manager for the Department for International Development (DFID) funded Livelihoods and Forestry Programme (LFP) in Nepal.
CIDT staff and colleagues of Vijay Shrestha on the Livelihoods Forestry Programme in Nepal celebrated the presentation of an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Social Science during a graduation ceremony on Thursday, 11 September 2014.
Professor Philip Dearden’s Encomium
Vice-Chancellor, I have the great honour to present Vijay Shrestha on whom the Board of Governors and the Academic Board wish to confer an Honorary Degree of Social Sciences.
Ever since I have known Vijay we have started our correspondence or conversation with the simple Nepalese greeting of Namaste.
As I’m sure many of you are aware, Namaste is used as a respectful form of greeting, acknowledging and welcoming a stranger, a relative or a guest.
Namaste is spoken with a slight bow and hands pressed together, palms touching and fingers pointing upwards, thumbs close to the chest
I would like us all to put our hands together and say a big collective Nameste to Vijay.
Vijay Shrestha is a truly remarkable person who has made a huge and unparalleled contribution to the development of his country – one of the most beautiful but poorest countries in the world – Nepal.
Vijay began his career as a Voluntary Teacher, working in three schools in his rural home town of Dhankuta in eastern Nepal
He then became an Administrative Officer, followed by an Accountant and then Office Manager for the Koshi Hills Development Programme which was a UK Aid-funded rural integrated development project in Nepal. He was responsible for all administrative functions within the Programme – involving 16 expatriate and Nepali Consultants and over 100 local support staff.
In the words of an ex colleague “throughout this challenging work he was always very open and friendly and always had an infectious smile on this face!”
Vijay then moved to Kathmandu and worked for the Nepal-UK Community Forestry Project, a project funded by UK’s Department for International Development and the Government of Nepal where he was responsible for the efficient operation of Project Co-ordination Office. From this project Vijay moved to become the Deputy Programme Coordinator of the Livelihoods and Forestry Programme (LFP), an even larger bilateral programme between DFID UK and the Government of Nepal.
As if this was not enough of a challenge during this time Vijay enrolled on a master’s degree here in the University of Wolverhampton.
Since graduating with a Masters degree Vijay has worked with the University’s Centre for International Development and Training (CIDT) as Programme Manager for the Department for International Development funded Livelihoods Forestry Programme.
As reported in the DFID Project Completion report in 2013 this 10 year development programme successfully generated employment for over 2.8 million people (of whom 85% were poor or excluded people) and helped lift over 1.3 million people out of poverty in Nepal.
In order to achieve this Vijay worked tirelessly over the ten years of the programme leading and inspiring a team of over 130 programme staff – often through insecure times and very difficult political situations in Nepal.
He has ensured that £26 million of UK Aid (tax payer’s) money from DFID has effectively and efficiently reached the very poorest in Nepal where it has made an enormous difference.
In the words of the Head of the Department for International Development in Nepal “the internationally-recognised success of Nepal’s community forestry sector recognised globally, owes much to Vijay Shrestha”.
Vijay has truly inspired and mentored many, ensuring that the next generation of community forestry leaders are ready to take up the challenges ahead.
Over time the highly successful Livelihoods and Forestry Programme became a “DFID Flagship programme” and was visited by no less than six UK DFID Ministers from Claire Short (2003) through to Andrew Mitchell (2012).
Working with CIDT staff at the end of the programme, Vijay helped collate and document all the experiences of the Livelihoods and Forestry programme and these have been published in “A Decade of the Livelihoods and Forestry Programme”.
Last year Vijay was awarded the University of Wolverhampton Alumni of the Year Award in the category of “Making the Biggest Contribution to Society”.
Vijay’s work for the poorest and excluded in Nepal is a wonderful tribute to the real values of the University of Wolverhampton.
Finally, in some contexts, Namaste is used to thank the other person for their generous kindness. In this context let me please say Nameste to Vijay’s most supportive wife Salina and his son Vishesh whom I am very sorry cannot be with us here today. Namaste Salina, Namaste Vishesh and Namaste Vijay.
Vice-Chancellor, I am very proud and deeply honoured to present Vijay Shrestha, in recognition of his significant contribution to international development, for the conferment of an Honorary Degree of Social Sciences of the University of Wolverhampton.
Professor Philip N. Dearden, Head of Centre for International Development and Training, University of Wolverhampton.