Makerere University has honored Ms. Ruth Morris Keesling, an American Philanthropist in a colorful ceremony, presided over by Prof. John David Kabasa, Principal, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB). The ceremony, attended by University officials, staff, students and partners, was held at the Ruth Keesling Wildlife Health and Research Centre, CoVAB, on 5th October 2013.
Ms. Ruth Keesling, who was accompanied by her husband Tom and other family members, was honored for her commitment to funding and promoting research particularly, on Mountain Gorillas. Since 1983 when Ruth Keesling first saw the gorillas as a tourist, she has shown commitment to their conservation and even promoted research that elevated the level of gorillas in Uganda to Mountain Gorillas. Due to her strong commitment to the conservation of the Mountain Gorillas, Ruth Keesling used to travel to Uganda every year to monitor her initiatives in wildlife veterinary medicine. These initiatives led to among others, the establishment of the Department of Wildlife and Aquatic Animal Resources at CoVAB, which has been instrumental in capacity building in the field of wildlife veterinary medicine in Uganda.
Dr. John Bosco Nizeyi, a wildlife Veterinary Doctor and lecturer at CoVABB who has been working closely with Ms. Keesling for many years appreciated the work she has done not only for Makerere University but for Uganda at large. Dr. Nizeyi noted that Ruth Keesling has for the last 11 years sponsored more than 10 Ugandan students to train in wildlife health and management at Graduate level. Some of the programs that resulted from her efforts to create awareness of and save the Mountain Gorillas include the Msc in Wildlife Health & Management, Msc in Wildlife Tourism & Recreation Management and Bsc in Wildlife Health & Management.
Dr. Nizeyi further stated that what Ms. Keesling started has taken Makerere University a step towards becoming a regional center of excellence in wildlife health, research and surveillance.
Ruth Keesling also established the gorilla veterinary clinic in 1986 and has since then, spent millions of her own money and also held fundraising drives that attracted more partners, who together have put more effort in saving the gorillas from extinction. She said that her love for the Mountain Gorillas started when she met the late primatologist, Dr. Dian Fossey who was committed to the conservation of gorillas.
“After looking into the eyes of a Mountain Gorilla, I became committed to helping her (Dian Fossey) and the gorillas”, said the elderly Ruth Keesling.
She commended all those who have over the years partnered with her for their work. “Each and every partner should be very proud of the tremendous work you do that has protected the Mountain Gorilla,” Ms. Keesling stressed.
Ms. Keesling has continued to carry the late Dian Fossey’s dream to save the Mountain Gorillas to the extent of funding the establishment of the Ruth Keesling Wildlife Health and Research Centre, expected to become a regional center ofexcellence and destination for scientists and researchers in Mountain Gorilla medicine and conservation. The center will also promote wildlife education and gorilla tourism. The center, which is housed by the Wildlife Department, CoVAB, comprises offices, laboratories, a bio-bank and lecture rooms. There is also a “Keesling garden’ that was planted by students from Eckerd College, Florida and Makerere University, which provides an experience of a mock safari for those who have never experienced an actual safari in the jungle.
Under the Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund (MGCF) which in 2010 signed an MoU with Makerere University, Ms. Keesling has been at the forefront of raising money to conserve the Mountain Gorilla. As a result of Mrs. Keesling’s efforts, the Mountain Gorilla population has grown from 248 at the time of Dr. Fossey’s death to 880 today, meaning that her efforts have resulted into an additional 632 gorillas having been produced in the last 28 years.
FranK Keesling, Ruth’s son promised his Mother that he would carry on her dream by working hard towards conservation of the Mountain Gorillas.
“I promise you, just like you promised Dr. Diane Fossey 28 years ago, that we will keep your dream alive,” Frank Keesling said.
Partners present at the event were British Airways, Uganda Wildlife Authority, Gorilla doctors, all of whom received awards from the Keesling family for their support towards Mountain Gorilla conservation in Uganda.
Article by Jovia Musubika Kavulu, Communication Office, CoVAB
Climate Change and Global warming: Researchers and partners discuss Climate Smart Agriculture approaches
By Ritah Namisango
Global warming due to uncontrolled human activity, industrialization and rapid population growth as well as emission of greenhouse gases is a threat to both humans and animals.
Global warming is an aspect of climate change, referring to the long-term rise of the earth’s temperatures. It is caused by increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, mainly from human activities such as burning fossil fuels and farming.
To address the emerging danger of climate change and global warming that threatens the very existence of the human race, animals and the world in general, countries and international bodies have come up with strategies, measures and programmes aimed at mitigating the disastrous effects of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions.
Researchers at Makerere University (Uganda) in partnership with the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (Norway), Maseno University (Kenya), and LUANAR and DARS (Malawi), and with funding from Norwegian Agency for International Cooperation and Quality Enhancement in Higher Education (Diku), are implementing a four-year collaborative research project titled, “Building Capacity for Innovation and Advancement of Climate Smart Agriculture in East and Southern Africa” (CICSA-E&SA).
This is a multi-disciplinary project bringing on board experts in climate change, livestock, animal science and agriculture. In Uganda, Dr. Dorothy Nampanzira, a researcher at Makerere University College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB) is the Principal Investigator. One of the objectives of the project is to develop a platform that includes key stakeholders who are engaged and interested in activities and initiatives that promote Climate Smart Approach practices and technologies to share experiences and lessons to further the resilience of farmers and promote activities that limit greenhouse gas emissions and receive outreach for adopting new, proven Climate Smart Agriculture technologies.
Why Climate Smart Agriculture?
Climate change and global warming are a threat to the agricultural sector, which is the source of food and income for developing countries in Africa, Uganda being one of them. According to the Uganda Bureau of Standards (UBOS) about 70% of Uganda’s working population is employed in agriculture. So, climate change and global warming threaten the very existence of livelihoods in Uganda, which calls for adoption of climate smart agriculture approaches, strategies, measures and practices.
On Tuesday 6th December 2022, researchers, scientists and experts in livestock feeding and nutrition, animal science, agriculture, climate change, education and capacity building convened at CoVAB. The stakeholders’ meeting was held under the theme: Livestock feeding and nutrition as Climate Smart Agriculture option: Current status and future strategies to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from livestock production systems in Uganda.
Opening the stakeholders’ workshop, Associate Professor Lawrence Mugisha, the Head, Department of Livestock and Industrial Resources, CoVAB, welcomed the partners to Makerere University. Highlighting that climate change is a cross cutting issue, he was happy to note that this multi-disciplinary project brings on board staff and experts from other Colleges at Makerere University namely; the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) and the College of Education and External Studies (CEES), and international partners from Universities in East and Southern Africa as well as Norway.
Representing Associate Professor Robert Tweyongyere, the Dean, School of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Resources, CoVAB, Associate Professor Mugisha shared that the Government of Uganda was committed to mitigating climate change. He pointed out that Makerere University’s strategic approaches through this collaborative project that focuses on climate smart agriculture would further enhance Government efforts.
Associate Professor Mugisha reiterated the appeal from the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovations, Hon. Dr. Monica Musenero to researchers at Makerere University. “On several occasions, Hon. Monica Musenero has encouraged us to conduct research that will solve the problems that Uganda is facing. The impacts and consequences of climate change are with us. We need researchers and experts to address the problem. I am therefore glad that this collaborative project focuses on coming up with innovations in climate smart agriculture.”
He advised the research project team to widen the stakeholder engagements, write policy briefs, and translate research into conventional and popular formats for public consumption and usage.
Dr. Vincent Muwanika then invited the respective researchers, scientists, experts and partners to participate in round table discussions with key stakeholders in climate change, agriculture, animal science and capacity building.
From the presentations, participants observed that a number of livestock climate smart agriculture initiatives were being undertaken in Uganda. Some of these include:
- Interventions addressing livestock feed quantities in order to produce nutritious feeds for livestock throughout the year.
- Feed quality improvement innovations.
- Forage conservation innovations and technologies aimed at providing enough nutritious feeds for livestock during times of scarcity especially as a result of the long dry spells.
- Promotion of drought tolerant multipurpose tree species.
- Promotion of livestock and poultry breeds that are better performing and tolerant high temperatures.
- Innovations for improved grazing management especially in rangelands.
- Water conservation and harvesting technologies that store enough water for both livestock production and household use.
Based on the informative discussions and interactive engagements, the participants resolved to establish a platform that includes key stakeholders who are engaged and interested in activities and initiatives that promote Climate Smart Agriculture practices and technologies. The platform will act as a mechanism to share experiences and lessons to further the resilience of farmers and promote activities that limit greenhouse gas emissions.
Mak Management expresses readiness to work with 88th Students’ Guild
By Ritah Namisango
Officiating at the Swearing-in-Ceremony of the 88th Students’ Guild held on Monday 5th December 2022, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe called upon the student leaders to work with the University Management, Senate and Council to promote a favourable brand of Makerere University that is renowned for research, innovations and excellence.
“The University exists because of students. We cannot exist without you students. Our goal is to ensure that students are handled well. So, I request that the Students’ Guild works together with the University Management to make the University a better place. Let us work together to promote the best practices such as excellence and intellectual discourse,” he remarked.
In a speech read by the Ag. Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance and Administration), Prof. Henry Alinaitwe, the Vice Chancellor further urged the student leadership to uphold dialogue in issues of management and conflict resolution.
“Issues can be solved amicably by use of dialogue and solutions can be found without necessarily using force or strikes,” he said.
The Vice Chancellor congratulated H.E. Lawrence Alionzi, a student of Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering at the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT) upon his election as the 88th Guild President of Makerere University. In the same spirit, he expressed gratitude to the students who took the bold step to contest for leadership at the different levels, and congratulated each and every one who emerged a winner at the Cabinet level, Guild Representative Council, Hall Chairpersons and Senior Common Room, Representatives of College Guild Council among other categories.
Prof. Nawangwe hailed the Students’ Electoral Commission led by Mr. Edrine Nsobanyi for conducting peaceful, free and fair elections in a shortest time possible.
“I have been briefed by the Chairperson of the Students’ Electoral Commission and the Dean of Students, Mrs. Winifred Kabumbuli that during the physical elections, we would have between 5,000 and 6,000 participants, but this time, when we conducted elections virtually, over 10,000 students participated in the polls. I thank the team that managed the University e-voting system led by Mr. Samuel Mugabi, the Director of DICTS and Ms. Ruth Eteu from the Department of the Academic Registrar,” he said.
He reminded students to guard against unfortunate incidents such as the one that led to suspension of the earlier Guild elections, where a student of the Uganda Christian University lost his life while participating in Makerere University Guild campaigns.
Sharing lived examples as a student leader at various levels during his school days, Prof. Alinaitwe advised the student leaders to value their time, and the time of other people. He emphasized the need to respect time and rallied the student leaders to always keep time by starting meetings on time and meeting deadlines.
“Leaders should lead by example. I encourage you to always consult and value time management. I was a time keeper in primary and secondary school. Time management is very essential in delivery of services, and ensuring that meetings, activities, programmes and projects are executed well,” said Prof. Alinaitwe.
In his remarks, Mr. Nsobanyi appreciated the University Management for the support rendered to the Students’ Electoral Commission. “I thank the administration for restoring the students’ leadership. You have really supported activities of the elections including online elections which have been extremely peaceful, free, fair with no chaos,” he said.
Delivering his inaugural speech, the 88th Guild President H.E. Alionzi glorified God for the gift of life, studies and for his elevation to the position of Guild President. He saluted his parents, his uncle (Mr. Pariyo Albert), teachers, religious leaders and everyone who has significantly made a positive contribution to his life journey.
H.E. Alionzi appreciated the students for not only participating in the Guild elections, but also choosing him as their next leader. The Guild President expressed readiness to work with every student at Makerere University regardless of his or her political and religious affiliation.
“I was voted by the students. I believe in a Guild for the students, by the students. During the three months of the Guild Government, I will prioritise dialogue and intellectual discourse,” said H.E. Alionzi.
The Guild President is fully committed to working with the University Management to prioritise the renovation of Halls of Residence as well as proposals aimed at expanding teaching and learning facilities on campus.
While handing over the Office, the 87th Guild President of Makerere University, H.E. Shamim Nambassa congratulated the 88th Students’ Guild upon their election and appealed to them to be result oriented.
“In execution of your duties, please always remember the students who voted you into office. Prioritise the demands and interests of the students. Stand with Makerereans and remain accountable to them for the time you will spend in office,” she said.
Delivering the closing remarks, the Dean of Students, Mrs. Winifred Kabumbuli, informed the 88th Students’ Guild about an upcoming induction workshop organized by the Dean of Students where the Students’ Guild will interact/engage with key University officials and experts in different fields.
Mastercard Foundation Scholars at Makerere University light up Agago community
By Bernard Buteera
On Saturday 3rd December 2022, residents of Okudu-Teyaa Village, Adilang sub-county in Agago district, Northern Uganda, were thrown into a frenzy of excitement, when they received unusual visitors- Scholars and Staff of Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at Makerere University, who had gone for the climax of this year’s Scholars Give Back by unveiling a two-class block they constructed for St. Catherine Nursery and Primary School.
Every year, Scholars of Mastercard Foundation at Makerere University identify a community to support through giving back, in what is called the Scholars’ community day of service. This year, the Scholars identified St. Catherine Nursery and Primary School, a small community school, in Okudu-Teyaa Village, Adilang sub-county, Agago district in Northern Uganda, which lacked a proper classroom structure, instead the pupils were studying under tree shades and in a small grass thatched structure.
Through mobilization from amongst themselves and with support from the Program staff, and other partners such DFCU Bank, Kare hostel and Garden Courts hostel, Mentors and Alumni, Scholars were able to raise funds and constructed a two class block for St. Catherine Nursery and Primary School, to enable the young children study from a decent environment.
During the launch of the two classroom block, the local residents and local council officials of the area were visibly excited and humbled by the generosity of the Scholars, which had created an instant impact for the school and the area.
In his welcome remarks, the LC 1 Chairperson of the area, Mr. Robert Odong, thanked the Scholars, Makerere University and the Foundation for the spirit of giving back to the communities, especially the rural communities which lack a lot of infrastructure development.
“This class room block you have constructed for this school has given us a lot of hope that we are going to be able to educate many of our young children, who will even be able to reach even university level” Odong said.
Mr. Odong challenged the local community, especially the leaders to emulate Mastercard Foundation Scholars, and construct more class room blocks for the School, because one class room block was not enough.
“This class room block which these young people have constructed is key milestone and a good starting point for us, therefore as a community and especially the leaders, we need to emulate these Mastercard Foundation Scholars, and raise resources to construct more class room blocks for our school.” Mr. Odong remarked.
On her part, the Head teacher of the School, Ms. Betty Angom, thanked Mastercard Foundation Scholars at Makerere for having identified St. Catherine Nursery and Primary School, as the most deserving for this year’s give back beneficiary.
“We thank you Mastercard Foundation Scholars at Makerere for reaching deep down in your hearts and gave our children this classroom block, we very happy.” Ms. Angom said with tears of joy in her eyes.
Ms. Angom called upon the parents and the entire community to join hands and support the school, because it lacked a lot in terms of infrastructure in order to be able to offer a befitting learning environment for the young people. Ms. Angom went on to highlight a number of challenges the school faced, which required support from the government, the Catholic Church and well-wishers, if it is offer effective education to the young children.
The challenges she highlighted included; Lack of furniture, cooking utensils for children’s meals, Lack of water, Scholastic materials, staff quarters, more classroom blocks among many other challenges which required immediate attention.
The Guest of honour at the event, the LC 111 Chairperson of Adilang Sub-county, Mr. Okwir Muhammad, joined fellow residents and leaders to thank Mastercard Foundation Scholars for the support given to the school which he described as the cornerstone for the School and the area.
“As a community, we are very happy to see this new development in our area. You have turned our area into a very powerful one with this class block, I hope the community will take advantage and make good use of the class room block.” Mr. Okwir remarked.
Mr. Okwir pledged on behalf of the sub-county to support the school by mobilizing more resources from the district so that more class room blocks can be constructed for the School.
He thanked the community for donating the land on which the classroom block was constructed and also for contributing in making the bricks, he pointed out that if all communities could get the kind of partnership the Scholars forged with the community, Agago district and other areas in Uganda would be very far in terms of infrastructure development.
Speaking on behalf of the Scholars Community, the Scholars Council representative, Mr. Abubakar Batte, thanked the Scholars for the spirit of give back, which had enabled them to construct the class room block, which had brought smiles on the young pupils of St. Catherine, and the area residents.
“I thank my fellow Scholars for selecting this school as our area of give back this year, because it was well deserving. I am also delighted by the financial contributions you made together with PIT, Mentors, DFCU Bank, Kare Hostel, Garden Courts hostel, and the Alumni, which enabled us to deliver this classroom block for this community” Mr. Batte said.
Mr. Batte urged the community to join hands with Scholars and try to raise resources to finish up with the remaining work which included plastering the building and finishing up the construction of the Pit latrine for the School.
“I call upon the community especially the local council leaders to join hands with the Scholars in mobilizing more resources, so that we complete the remaining work, which included plastering the classroom block and also the construction of the Pit latrine for the School.” Mr. Batte urged.
Speaking on behalf of the Program Coordinator, Ms. Grace Sennoga, the Welfare and Support Services Officer on the Scholars Program, who is also the Coordinator of Scholars’ give back activities, joined the rest of the people in thanking the Scholars and all other partners who contributed generously to enable the construction of the class room block.
“As the Scholars Program staff, we are delighted by the generosity and thoughtfulness of the Scholars, and we proud of what the young people have been able to do for this community.” Ms. Sennoga said.
Ms. Sennoga further informed the gathering that Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at Makerere University was designed to foster transformative leadership through equipping Scholars with the requisite knowledge and skills, which has helped them become change makers in their communities.
“This classroom block is a clear example of the impact Scholars were making in the community. I therefore call upon the community to emulate the Scholars and start giving back to other people in our areas as who less fortunate in one way or the other” Ms. Sennoga urged.
St. Catherine Nursery and Primary School, is a small community school, which was established in 2019 under the Catholic Church. The School currently has 120 children, most of whom where trekking long distances to go schools in far off places.
Bernard Buteera is the Communications Officer, Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at Makerere University
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