The proposed programme follows a bi-focal approach by addressing the needs of communities in the Southern Rift Valley of Ethiopia, and simultaneously focusing on the role of AMU in the development process. It targets capacity development in teaching and research to empower AMU and its graduates to design sustainable solutions answering the region’s considerable challenges. As guiding principle, research will focus on improving ecosystem services while enhancing agricultural productivity in a sustainable way. This choice is motivated by the fact that the basic economic activities in this area of the country are agriculture, fishing, eco-tourism and small trading. Traditional crop and animal husbandry are characterized by very poor efficiency and low productivity, causing poor livelihoods, food insecurity and poor health status to thrive in many parts of the region. Poor agricultural management has caused severe land degradation, which aggravates terrestrial/aquatic biodiversity loss and challenges sustainable develop-ment. Hence, improving agricultural productivity, socio-economic and health status and reversing land degradation are key to sustain livelihood in the target region. Knowledge on how these key-aspects interact and drive develop-ment is ill-developed for the region and insufficiently backed up by academic research. As a matter of fact, most of the research and academic institutions, including AMU, are not sufficiently empowered to undertake quality research to generate policy recommendations on the above issues. The limited number of experienced staff and the dated infrastructure of AMU has impeded the provision of quality education. Library and ICT facilities are insufficient, information accessibility is poor and lab facilities below standard for teaching, learning and research activities. With a dearth of qualified staff and up-to-date facilities, university education and research are falling short to answer the challenges for a sustainable development in the region. Therefore, this programme has the ambition to fill the persis-tent gaps in human capacity (knowledge, attitude, and skills), information management (ICT-Library) and research facilities. With ‘livelihood’ at the core of the programme, linking up the different specific projects which are in line with the national priorities of Ethiopia and those of VLIR-UOS country strategy. Where health (P3), land degradation (P4), agricultural productivity (P5) and biodiversity (P6) are formulated as separate projects –contributing to sustainable development on their own -, they are also key pillars of livelihood (P2). By concentrating the research efforts in the same watersheds and organising frequent joint planning meetings, synergies between the different projects will be actively pursued. One project, ICT/Library (P1) has an overarching role, facilitating communication and outreach for all and the programme as a whole.