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Mak-Sida International Conference Calls for more Research and Innovations

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Prof. Mukadasi Buyinza, Director Directorate of Research and Graduate Training and Chair Organising Committee of the International Conference. Behind him is Prof. Love Ekenberg, Stockholm University, Sweden. Prof. Love Ekenbergo presented the keynote paper.The Mak-Sida International Research and Innovations Dissemination two-day Conference closed with a call for more research and innovations across the different disciplines. The Conference, held under the theme ‘Community transformation through Research, Innovations and Knowledge Translation’, brought together scholars from different parts of the world to share their research findings across five sub themes of: Health and Health Systems; Natural Resource Utilisation, Conservation and Environmental Sustainability; Food Security, Safety and Value Addition; Culture Socio-Economic Transformation, Social Justice, Governance, Conflict and Disaster Management; and Advances in Education, Science and Technology. Over one hundred (100) papers were presented across these themes as both oral and poster presentations.

In her special paper presentation on Viral Hemorrhagic fevers, Dr. Monica Musenero Masanza, the Assistant Commissioner Epidemiology and Surveillance in the Ministry of Health, shared that more research needs to be conducted to avert the effects of such fevers. She shared experiences from the Ebola hit Central African region, where she was actively involved in combating the scourge.Dr. Monica Musenero Masanza, the Assistant Commissioner Epidemiology and Surveillance in the Ministry of Health

“Viral hemorrhagic fevers (VHFs) are caused by four distinct families of viruses. These include: Arena viruses (Lassa fever), Filo Viruses (Ebola and Marburg fever), Bunya viruses (Cremean Congo) and Flavi viruses (Yellow fever),” she said. “The absence of locally available research has led to delayed recognition of these viruses which are mainly hosted in animals, since human beings are accidental hosts. It is still not known where the virus really hides. We start running after seeing deaths. It catches us by surprise because the origin is unknown. There is need for more research to combat the high tendency of recurrence of these fevers. I am here to stir you as academic institutions to engage more in both basic and intensive research,” she emphasized.

Dr. Musenero continued to share the courageous fight to contain ebola in West Africa, particularly the countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Cameroon, where she headed the medical team. After her presentation, the audience gave her a befitting standing ovation.

Susanne Spets, the Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of Sweden, who represented the Swedish Ambassador, H.E. Urban Andersson, observed that Sida support is aimed at improving conditions in Uganda. “One third of the activities supported by Sweden are in the area of Medical Sciences. The investment is expected to contribute to an improved health status of ordinary Ugandans,” she said. “The agreement period has included the preparation for a new agreement 2015- 2020. The process has included an open call for projects proposals with Swedish University partners. 17 projects that will be implemented by 5 universities in Uganda and their 11 Swedish University partners have been selected.

 Hon. Irene Ovonji OdidaThe Chairperson Makerere University Council, Eng. Dr. Charles Wana Etyem represented by the Deputy Chairperson of Council, Hon. Irene Ovonji Odida observed that, “Being the premier academic institution in Uganda, Makerere University is a major source of various home-grown innovations and technologies that are contributing to the transformation of our society. Many of these ground-breaking innovations and technologies have been hatched through the Sida bilateral research programme. Our work through the Sida research programme has contributed to the enhancement of Makerere University’s visibility and performance, thereby positioning Makerere University at the forefront of the global knowledge economy. We therefore thank Sida for being a strategic partner to human resource capacity building in this country as shall be exhibited in the presentations at this conference.

Day one of this conference,20th April 2015, was presided over by the Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Sports, Hon. Jessica Alupo, who was grateful for the Swedish Government support to Uganda. “The Government of Uganda will also continue supporting initiatives aimed at promoting research and innovation. As you may be aware, the Government has already made significant impact through the Presidential Science Initiative, to which H.E The President of Uganda, committed UGX.25billion to support research and innovations in science-based colleges at Makerere University. The funding has also helped Makerere to put up state-of-the-art teaching and research laboratories to stimulate scientific innovations. Ms Susanne Spets (L), the Deputy Head of Mission of the Swedish Embassy in Uganda listens to Hon Jessica Alupo (R), Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Sports, Hon. Jessica Alupo

According to the Makerere University Vice Chancellor, Prof. John Ddumba-Ssentamu, the Swedish Government has supported learning and research at Makerere University to a tune of SEK515.11 million (USD $74 million). “A great proportion of research funding at Makerere University is from Sida. Sida, together with other development partners, has played a fundamental role in augmenting the internally generated funds at Makerere University, which has helped to substantially tackle the chronic shortage of funds for research,” he said in appreciation.

“Research dissemination and translation of outputs into policy briefs has not been successful as would have been desired. Both senior researchers and students have collected plenty of raw data, but these have not been translated so as to make them to be able to serve the reason(s) for which they are gathered. To solve this problem, emphasis, especially in the successor Sida programme, has been put on the proper dissemination of interdisciplinary research findings, thematic research inventories, so as to contribute to and enhance evidence-based policy development. This would make the programme directly relevant to the national development goals,” he added.

The Chairperson Conference Organising Committee, Prof. Mukadasi Buyinza who is also the Director, Directorate of Research and Graduate Training, hailed Sida for the enduring support to Makerere University. Tremendous achievements which include the creation of an environment conducive to high quality relevant research through investment in human resource development, ICT, library resources, laboratory and field site infrastructure have been realized as a result of this support.

Ms Susanne Spets, Prof George Mondo Kagonyera, Hon. Jessica Alupo and Prof John Ddumba-Ssentamu at the conference.

“I am happy to report that since 2000 when our cooperation began, over 150 staff have completed PhDs and a host of them have completed master degree programs. This could be attributed to the increased completion rate by doctoral students due to the enhanced capacity for supervisors to supervise graduate students, strong mentorship programme and graduate seminar series coordinated by Makerere University,” he said.

“We are grateful to government through the Ministry of Education Science, Technology and Sports for having secured over US$200 million from African Development Bank and other agencies to finance the improvements and expansion of higher education Science and Technology facilities at the public universities, Makerere University inclusive. The steps the Government has taken are commendable but we urge government to strategically investment more in research and development in order to spark economic growth and human capital development,” he added.Dr. Katri Pohjolainen, the Senior Research Advisor at the Swedish Embassy receives a plaque from Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe at the closing ceremony of the conference

The Chancellor, Prof. George Mondo Kagonyera pointed out that “It is important for academic and research institutions to conduct cutting edge research but as long as that research is not reaching the community it is meant to serve, it remains but a disservice. In order for all this wonderful research to impact community it has to be translated into the language that can easily be understood by members of public, and policy makers in particular. It is only when our research can easily be understood that the policy makers will advance our aspirations and defend our cause when it comes up for debate.”

Dr. Katri Pohjolainen, the Senior Research Advisor at the Swedish Embassy hailed the conference for its output. “The conference has displayed an enormous amount of creativity, perseverance and hard work taking place both in Uganda and Sweden for the past five years. The sessions I did attend were professional, exciting and a learning experience with open and frank discussions. The two days have been an academic exercise of high caliber. I hope all the research results presented will be published and that scientific discoveries will be patented. I hope the research results will reach out to communities and will be translated into policy documents and used by the different organizations and ministries,” she said.

The Deputy Vice Chancellor, Finance and Administration, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe closed the conference with a call for maximum utilization of the research funding. ”The support we have received should be very well utilized to make a contribution however small to reversing the very sad story of Africa. I believe that Makerere is the greatest University on the African continent. We have people dedicated to their work as demonstrated by the resilience despite all the difficulties people encounter as they carry out first class research, publish in international journals and innovate for society. Let us continue doing so,” he said.

26 people were recognised for their active role in the success of the Makerere-Sida bilateral cooperation over the years. Please see downloads below for that detailed list of recipients.

 

Article by Marion Alina

Photos by Landmark Media Consultancy Ltd

 

 

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Rotary International President visits Mak

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The Chairperson of Council, Mrs Lorna Magara (L) presents a plaque to Rotary International President Shekhar Mehta in appreciation of his visit and invaluable service, 15th September 2021, CTF1, Makerere University.

By Hasifa Kabejja

Rotary International President Shekhar Mehta has appreciated Makerere University for supporting and carrying forward the newly introduced programme aimed at advancing peace on the African Continent. Launched in January 2020, the Rotary Peace Centre at Makerere University runs a postgraduate diploma programme in Peace-building and Conflict Transformation. The hands-on program entails coursework that addresses topics including human rights, governance, and the role of the media in conflict. Other studies focus on refugees and migration, as well as resource and identity-based conflicts.

At a high level meeting held with the University leadership on 15th September 2021 at CTF1, President Shekhar Mehta said Rotary International was proud to be partnering with Makerere to promote peace on the African Continent. “The mere absence of war does not translate into total peace. Besides war, there are many other factors undermining peaceful co-existence. It is our duty to address these issues so as to create harmony in our communities. Through the Rotary Peace Centres across the globe, we are undertaking a number of initiatives aimed at promoting peace. Since 2002, the Rotary Peace Centres have trained more than 1,300 fellows who are working to advance peace in more than 115 countries. We are happy to work with Makerere University to foster peace and development on the African Continent,” he noted.   President Shekhar Mehta, who was on a three-day tour of Rotary projects in Uganda, was visiting Makerere for the first time since the University won the bid to host the International Rotary Peace Centre, the first of its kind on the African Continent.

President Shekhar Mehta, who was in company of past and current Governors of Districts 9213 and 9214, said peace was a necessary catalyst for the progress of humanity and general development of nation states across the globe. Elected for the 2021-22 term, President Shekhar Mehta, through his year theme Serve to Change Lives, asks Rotarians to participate in service projects where they can make a difference in their communities and the people who live in them. Since he joined Rotary in 1984 as a member of the Rotary Club of Calcutta-Mahanagar, West Bengal, India, President Shekhar Mehta has led many major service initiatives in India and South Asia, including among others, constructing 500 homes for Tsunami survivors at Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and starting the Shelter Kit programme in India which has served about 20 disasters and benefited about 75,000 disaster victims. 

Delivering her remarks, the Chairperson Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara appreciated Rotary International for entrusting Makerere University with the mandate to host the first rotary peace centre on the African Continent. “Choosing to house the Centre at Makerere University shows Rotary International’s trust and confidence in Makerere and her vision for building for the future. We are grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the advancement of Rotary International’s agenda. We also sincerely appreciate Rotarians all over the world who have committed funds to support the Rotary Peace Centre at Makerere University,” she noted. Similarly, she appreciated The Rotary Foundation (TRF) of Canada for setting up an endowment fund for the Peace Centre. “This will go a long way in ensuring the sustainability of the Peace Centre at Makerere University. The fund will help in the Capstone week where Fellows will present their social initiatives. These initiatives will showcase how the Rotary Peace Centre contributes to positive peace initiatives all over the world.”

In his remarks, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe informed the President that the decision to establish the first Rotary Peace Centre in Africa at Makerere University was welcomed with ‘excitement and gratefulness’. “We consider this to be a vote of confidence in our efforts in the peace and conflict resolution agenda. We extend our appreciation to Rotarians in Uganda and beyond for selflessly supporting this noble cause.” The Vice Chancellor appreciated the leadership of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Makerere, and the Director of the Centre, Dr Helen Nambalirwa Nkabala for their tireless efforts in ensuring the centre achieves the intended objective.

By the end of this year, the Centre will have hosted two cohorts of peace fellows. The first cohort was at Makerere University between February and May, 2021. Currently, these Peace fellows are carrying out their peace initiatives in their communities. The second cohort will report on September 27, 2021. In both cohorts, Peace Fellows were chosen from 20 countries and by the end of the year, the Centre will have had a total of 36 Fellows.

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Intentionality Key to Nurturing More Women Leaders

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The "Enhancing Women’s Participation and Visibility in Leadership and Decision-Making Organs of Public Universities in Uganda through Action Research" Phase One Study dissemination poster for the event held on 14th September 2021, CTF1, Makerere University and Online.

The Gender Mainstreaming Directorate (GMD), Makerere University on 14th September 2021 presented findings from phase one of the study on Enhancing Women’s Participation and Visibility in Leadership and Decision-Making Organs of Public Universities in Uganda through Action Research. The study team led by the Director GMD and Principal Investigator (PI), Dr. Euzobia Mugisha Baine also consists of Assoc. Prof. Consolata Kabonesa, Dr. Anna Ninsiima, Ms. Frances Nyachwo, Ms. Susan Mbabazi and Mr. Eric Tumwesigye.  

The team is also made of coordinators from participating Universities such as Busitema University-Ms. Elizabeth Birabwa, Kabale University-Sr. Dr. Eva Tumusiime, Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST)-Dr. Specioza Twinamasiko, Muni University-Ms. Amandru Stella Wawa, and Gulu Univeristy-Sr. Rosalba Aciro.

Funded by the Government of Uganda through the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF), the study was inspired by the fact that women are persistently few in numbers as staff, more so in leadership and decision-making organs of Ugandan Public Universities. “This is despite all the various efforts at national and international levels; the numbers are not growing as fast as needed to meet development goals of the country” explained Dr. Euzobia.

Based on this background, the study team therefore sought to conduct a situational analysis of the gender terrain of the six public universities to obtain baseline information encompassing the composition of governance and leadership organs and senior staff by sex, as well as a needs assessment and profiles of potential mentors and mentees.

Furthermore, the team sought to explore the capacity to conduct gender-responsive research as well as the role of male staff engagement in gender equity interventions within the universities as the drivers of development.

Dr. Mugisha-Baine shared that results of the baseline would then be used to design participatory training manuals or guides on gender and leadership. The manuals would cover; Institutionalized mentorship, How to conduct gender-responsive research, gender and equity budgeting, among others.

The Director GMD, Dr. Euzobia Mugisha Baine
The Director GMD, Dr. Euzobia Mugisha Baine

 “Within these manuals, we shall have a male staff engagement strategy in gender equity interventions in universities” she explained.

The development of the aforementioned materials would then be followed by their adoption and use to build capacity for women not only in leadership of participating and other public university but also beyond. “We shall periodically evaluate whether the capacity we have built has influenced women’s participation in leadership and decision-making organs of the university” supplemented the PI.

The capacity building trainings for women, it is envisaged, will lay the foundation for the formation of a functional Uganda University Women’s Think Tank, starting with the six participating universities. Dr. Mugisha Baine added that through this Think Tank, a monitoring and tracking system for gender representation in recruitment, promotion, retention/turnover and leadership of public universities shall be established and maintained.  

At the conclusion of phase one, the study team had drafted participatory training manuals in gender and leadership with content on; gender specific critical analysis of the leadership spectrum of public universities, positioning of individual women within the institutional framework and strategies for their advancement, gender equity advocacy in the university setting, institutional mentorship, building capacity in conducting gender-responsive research, among others.

“This content will be validated by the participating universities before the actual research training is conducted” added the PI.

On behalf of the research team, Dr. Mugisha Baine thanked the Government of Uganda for providing the resources that facilitated phase one of the study and prayed that the Mak-RIF Grants Management Committee (GMC) would support the next phase of capacity building.

Speaking on behalf of the Mak-RIF GMC Chairperson, Prof. William Bazeyo, Dr. Helen Nambalirwa Nkabala thanked and congratulated the team led by the Director GMD upon the milestones registered in the critical research.

“We are very proud of that work that is being done by all researchers in Mak-RIF and we would like to most sincerely thank Management for all the support throughout this process” she remarked.

Dr. Nkabala encouraged the research team to continue disseminating and using the findings for the furtherance of gender mainstreaming, particularly through the aspect of male staff engagement in gender equity interventions.  

The Executive Director, NCHE, Prof. Mary Okwakol. Courtesy Photo.
The Executive Director, NCHE, Prof. Mary Okwakol. Courtesy Photo.

Prior to delivering the keynote address of the day, the Executive Director National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) Prof. Mary Okwakol thanked the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe for inviting her to the important forum, noting that women’s participation in decision making and governance is a priority area of the Uganda Gender Policy 2007.  

She commended Makerere University for being at the forefront of gender mainstreaming in Uganda, noting that this prominence was one of the reasons why the Gender in Education Policy 2007 provides for replicating the institution’s strategy in all other Higher Education Institutions.   

Prof. Okwakol whose keynote address was punctuated incisive personal examples reaffirmed the statistics that women are generally not visible in leadership of Universities. That notwithstanding, in instances where they rise to leadership and decision-making positions, they are regularly subject to roles traditionally deemed as women’s inconsiderate of their managerial seniority and experience.

She nevertheless rallied the women to play their respective roles in enhancing participation and visibility at a personal level. The following were some of the strategies she proposed; work hard to acquire academic credentials so as to compete favourably with men, acquire necessary administrative training and experience, network among women, join professional networks as well as do research and publish.  

On joining professional networks, she shared her personal experience as a young zoologist who joined UNESCO’s Tropical Biology and Fertility Programme. “Within a short time I was appointed Coordinator for Africa and after two years, I was elected as a Member of the International Board of Management. After serving for two years, I became Vice Chairperson of that Board and finally I became Chairperson of that International Board.”

At the institutional level, Prof. Okwakol appealed to the Chairperson Council and Vice Chancellor to proactively recruit women who meet the requirements for leadership positions even if it means actively seeking out the reluctant ones. In this regard, she shared that it would be useful for the university to develop a database of women and their qualifications to ease this process.

She shared that NCHE has in recognition of female underrepresentation at every level in Higher Education approved the establishment of a Gender and Equity Unit with the aim of promoting inclusive gender participation in the sub-sector.

“This unit has been placed under the Directorate of Quality Assurance and Accreditation which implies that as we look out for and regulate quality, gender will be a very important aspect of that regulation” she reassured.

Prof. Okwakol concluded by urging participants to read the; Third National Development Plan (NDPIII), Uganda Vision 2040, and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) noting that there is no way all three can be achieved while women are left behind because they each make a case for inclusion of the female gender.  

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe follows proceedings during the dissemination.
The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe follows proceedings during the dissemination.

“What we are addressing here are historical injustices” said Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe as he commenced his remarks, “And in the case of Makerere University, it is well known that the institution started as a male-only institution and we all know the original motto was ‘Let us be men’” he added.

Citing examples from history such as; Marie Curie – one of the smartest physicists, Hatshepsut, Nefertiti and Cleopatra – prominent Pharaohs of Egypt, George Eliot, Rosa Luxemburg and Hypatia – all great philosophers as well as Chancellor Angela Merkel – first female Chancellor of Germany, the Vice Chancellor said there is no plausible argument that there are things women cannot do as well as their male counterparts.

He said it was against this knowledge and in a bid to correct historical injustices that Makerere University pioneered initiatives such as putting in place affirmative action for girls, establishing a Gender Mainstreaming Directorate as well as a School of Women and Gender Studies. The Vice Chancellor nevertheless stressed the need to go beyond pioneering to protecting these gains through legislation. “Historically we have seen that discrimination can only be addressed by laws and policies.”

Prof. Nawangwe thanked the Government for providing funds to support Mak-RIF as well as the Funds GMC and Secretariat for ensuring that these funds are put to good use. He equally thanked the Chairperson of Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara for her not only her support but also sparing time to attend a good number of the research dissemination events.

A screenshot of the Chairperson of Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara delivering the concluding remarks.
A screenshot of the Chairperson of Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara delivering the concluding remarks.

Delivering the concluding remarks, Mrs. Magara acknowledged that the study was timely and relevant the contemporary University, as one of the critical drivers of the national and international development agenda. She therefore reechoed the Vice Chancellor’s thanks to the Government of Uganda for generously supporting the University’s research through Mak-RIF.

Turning to the keynote speaker she said, “I thank Prof. Okwakol for ardently discussing the critical issues affecting the female gender, the strategies to overcome the challenges, including sharing her inspiring personal experiences.”

Mrs. Magara equally thanked Prof. Okwakol for her very instructional analysis, providing mentorship guidance with the resultant impact of enhancing the female gender in decision-making positions. In the same breath she congratulated the PI and her team upon successfully concluding phase one of the project.

“Phase one has generated insights in understanding the status of women in leadership in public universities, the legal and policy framework and its implications on women’s visibility, the institutional mentoring systems and the gaps therein” she observed.

The Chairperson of Council acknowledged that the challenge of underrepresentation of women in leadership roles cannot be resolved at an individual level. She therefore advocated for broad based strategies that can address deep-seated structural and cultural biases facing women. “These include developing mentorship networks, enacting laws and policies that address the imbalances and providing training programmes to address the leadership gaps.”

She therefore pledged the University Council’s unwavering support to the Gender Mainstreaming Programme by ensuring an enabling policy environment that facilitates gender-responsive teaching, learning, research innovation and community service.   

The research dissemination was moderated by the Principal Public Relations Officer (PRO), Ms. Ritah Namisango and the Director Communications, Learning and Knowledge Management, ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) and PRO Mak-RIF, Ms. Harriet Adong.

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Section Editors & Associate Editors Wanted-CABI Agriculture & Biosciences Journal

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The CABI Agriculture and Biosciences Journal (CABI A&B) is still in search of both Associate Editors to join the CABI A&B Editorial Board, as well as a Regional Editor-in-Chief to lead for Africa in addition to serving as a Section Editor in the area of either Environmental and SOIL SCIENCE, AGROECOLOGY, OR AQUACULTURE AND FISHERIES. Ideally CABI wants Section Editors (SE) who are prominent members of their research communities, with high-level established positions at a research institution, with a strong, current record of international collaborations and publication, with an H-index of at least 25.  For Associate Editors (AE) we hope for researchers who have with established positions at a research institution (e.g., not post-docs or Ph.D. candidates), with a strong growing record of international collaborations and publication (e.g., around 8 publications in the past two years), and have an H-index of at least 15.

Very importantly, CABI hopes for SEs and AEs who are good communicators and are passionate about serving and building the journal to be an outlet for both large and small steps of sound science that will improve the lives and livelihoods of people worldwide.

Please see Downloads for the CABI EDITORIAL DIRECTORY

Interested applicants should email PHILIPPA J. BENSON, PH.D. MANAGING EDITOR | _CABI A&B | P.BENSON[at]CABI.ORG

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