December 17, 2012 - 8:50am

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, December 17, 2012

NANAIMO, BC: Faculty in Vancouver Island University’s (VIU) Geographic Information Systems program are moving forward with an ambitious project to improve food security and economic growth in Ukraine thanks to funding from the Government of Canada announced today.

Dr. James Lunney, Member of Parliament for Nanaimo-Alberni, announced that the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) is contributing $780,584 towards the project that will see VIU faculty and staff working with civil servants in the Ukraine to facilitate land reform.

“This project is a feather in the cap for VIU,” said Lunney, who made the announcement on behalf of the Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of International Cooperation. “It demonstrates not only the world class expertise of VIU faculty but also the positive impact their knowledge can have abroad.”

Combined with VIU’s investment of $352,831, the total project value is $1,055,744. Ukraine has been identified by CIDA as one of 20 countries, which should be a focus for development aid. Faculty and staff from VIU’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) program including Dr. Michael Govorov, Dave Cake, Brad Maguire, Alan Gilchrist and Meg Savory, were the driving forces behind the project that received the CIDA funding.

“Until the early 1990s, the Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union,” explains Dave Cake. “Since then they’ve been moving from a state-run agriculture system to privately owned and managed farms which involves a fairly significant reformation of the land tenure system. This process has been limited by a lack of an efficient way to track land ownership.”

In Canada work of this kind is done using GIS, which, simply put, is a computerized map with a database that allows users to inventory and plan the use of resources and land. Drawing on the GIS expertise of VIU’s faculty and staff, the project will train Ukraine’s civil servants in how to use GIS systems and related technologies. The goal is to help Ukraine’s civil servants move forward with land reform by setting up a central registry of land, forest and water resources, which will in turn contribute to the country’s food security and economic growth.

“This is a vote of confidence in VIU’s students, faculty and staff, and their ability to develop programs in cooperation with international partners that will have a positive impact on the lives of people in developing countries,” said VIU’s President, Ralph Nilson. “It also creates opportunities for VIU’s students, faculty and staff to gain experience working with international organizations while also making a difference in reducing global poverty.”

VIU will be partnering with Okanagan College, in Kelowna, the National University of Kyiv, and the Institute of Geography at the Ukrainian Academy of Science. The Canadian team will develop six courses which will then be translated and delivered by their Ukrainian partners, with support from VIU faculty, to 100 key government employees.

For more information contact Meg Savory, International Projects and Grants Coordinator Education Abroad, 250.740-6378, meg.savory@viu.ca or Dave Cake, GIS instructor, 250.740.6153, dave.cake@viu.ca.


ABOUT VIU: Vancouver Island University is Canada’s west coast university. Known as a centre of excellence for teaching, learning and applied research, VIU offers a diverse range of certificate, diploma and undergraduate and master degree programs to more than 18,000 students on campuses in Nanaimo, Powell River and Cowichan, and at the Parksville-Qualicum Centre. For more information visit www.viu.ca


Janina Stajic, Manager, Vancouver Island University

P: 250.740.6288 E: Communications@viu.ca Twitter: @VIUNews

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