Press Office


A design for life – helping Ethiopia build for the future


A Newcastle University lecturer is heading to Ethiopia to help the country meet its urgent housing needs.

Dr Peter Kellett, a senior lecturer in architecture, will support local academics and help them strengthen the way they train professionals, so they can address the country’s housing issues.  

Ethiopia is the second most populous country in Africa, with a population of around 90 million people, but its urban areas are struggling to cope with demand for homes.

Peter is going to Africa as a volunteer with VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) and will be working in the country’s capital at the University of Addis Ababa’s Ethiopian Institute for Architecture, Building Construction and City Development.

He said: “The Ethiopian Ministry of Education put out a call for experienced academics in the field of architecture and planning.  I saw the VSO advertisement and I really wanted to get involved. I have many years’ experience working and researching overseas and this looked like an ideal opportunity to share some of my expertise.  I’ll be working at the university to help train other professionals so they are better prepared to address housing and related urban problems.

“In the UK the image of Ethiopia many of us still have is a country beset by famine,” he said. “The country has changed since then. However, it is still a very poor nation and there is not enough housing in the urban areas to cope with demand so many people have to live in unhealthy and overcrowded accommodation. By sharing my expertise we can train architects and planners to improve the situation.”

Peter is looking forward to visiting a new country and learning more about it and the people who live there. He’ll also be using his time to carry out field research with Ethiopian colleagues and he plans to forge links between the University of Addis Ababa and Newcastle University.

He said: “This will be an excellent opportunity to build a strong relationship between the two universities. Ethiopia isn’t a country we currently have much connection with and I believe working together can only benefit both institutions.”

Peter has been taking part in a sponsored outdoor swim in the Lake District to raise money for VSO. Find out more and sponsor Peter.

published on: 31 January 2013