VLIR-IUC partnership

VLIR-IUC partnership strives to transform rural communities

The five year, Vlaamse Interuniversitaire Raad- Institutional University Cooperation (VLIR-IUC) Programme launched at the University of Limpopo, recently substantiates that scores of academics strive through research and community projects to improve the health of disadvantaged communities. The five million rand partnership programme between Flemish Universities and UL, with the University of Antwerp as principal partner, has eight projects that intend to come with mechanisms that will help to deal with problems which affect lives of rural based communities in South Africa. The partnership is led by UL and Flemish academics.

The focal point and title of the programme is “Human Wellness in the Context of Global Change-Finding Solutions for Rural Africa”.  The partnership furthers aims to bring academics and experts from different locations and disciplines together and provides a platform for researchers and development actors in Belgium to interact with their counterparts at the University of Limpopo.  

Speaking about the partnership, Mr Christophe Goossens, VLIR UOS Programme Officer, said their purpose is to have a long-term partnership with universities in Africa and strengthen Institutional development. He conceded that “the end goal is to change lives of people by implementing projects or programmes of capacity building”.

Prof Bob Colebunders, Flemish Programme Coordinator, University of Antwerp, said they partnered with the University of Limpopo because is located in a country that is playing key role in development of Africa. He mentioned that South Africa prioritise in investing in higher education. Colebunders said the partnership projected to find global solutions. “An international collaboration is in everybody’s interest and international effort is needed to find these solutions”, he said.  Since 2008, Bob Colebunders coordinates the cooperation with the University of Limpopo. "The local projects include education, research, as well as sustainable development and public health. The challenge of this collaboration is to develop the region, where the effects of apartheid are still strongly felt. It is fascinating to elaborate locally embedded interdisciplinary projects," said Bob.

Prof Dirk Wessels, previous UL Local Programme Coordinator (now prof. Kingsley Ayisi) , said sharing minds is imperative because it changes lives.