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Mak Sida Annual Review Meeting Reveals Good Progress

H.E. Amb. Per Lindgärde, 1st Secretary & Senior Research Advisor-Dr. Gity Behravan, Prof. Charles Kwesiga, Vice Chancellor-Prof. John Ddumba-Ssentamu, DVCFA-Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, Director DRGT-Prof. Mukadasi Buyinza with participants in the Sida Annual Review Meeting at the launch on 10th Oct 2016, Main Hall, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda

Over the last 15 years of collaboration, the Swedish Government has invested US$ 73.3 million in Graduate Training and the scientific environments of five public Universities in Uganda, with the main recipient being Makerere University (Mak). The latest phase of collaboration (2015-2020) will contribute US$ 32million to training over 240 students over the five year period.

These figures formed a good basis for this year’s Sida (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) Annual Review Meeting’s theme “Investing in Research and Innovating for Society”.  Launched on 10th October 2016 in the Main Hall, the meeting also marked the first official visit to Makerere University by the new Swedish Ambassador to Uganda H.E. Per Lindgärde.
Ambassador Lindgärde who arrived in the country only a week prior to the Annual Review Meeting thanked Makerere University for the warm reception accorded to him.
H.E. Amb. Per Lindgärde (2nd R), Dr. Gity Behravan (R), Vice Chancellor-Prof. John Ddumba-Ssentamu (2nd L) and Director DRGT-Prof. Mukadasi Buyinza (L) listen to presentations during the Sida Annual Review Meeting
“The Annual Review Meeting brings together Ugandan and Swedish partners to assess the past year. I understand that some of you are new to the program, while others have much experience from previous collaboration phases. But what you all have in common is that you have been successful in the competition to get a project approved for this collaboration,” commended Ambassador Lindgärde.

He further drew attention to the uniqueness of the Swedish funding to research collaboration, noting that “The Swedish strategy is based on funding institution building, post-graduate education, and research in one single effort. No part can function without the others. It is a holistic approach” shared the Ambassador.

The Director, Directorate of Research and Graduate Training (DRGT) and Head of the Mak-Sida Intuitional Collaboration Programme, Prof. Mukadasi Buyinza thanked the Swedish Government for the dedicated support to Mak which has led to the training of 325 academics since 2000. Prof. Buyinza took note of two shifts that have since taken place in the new collaboration period.
Dr. Gity Behravan (R) reacts to one of the presentations as Prof. Mukadasi Buyinza (L) listens intently
“Firstly, whilst the program previously was only based on sandwich students, 105 PhD students are now locally trained. Only 20 PhDs are going to be on sandwich, based on capacity need.” He observed that this was indeed a great testimony of the strengthened research capacity achieved by Mak over the 15 years of collaboration.

“Secondly, local training will take place in multidisciplinary teams, based on multidisciplinary themes. The previous model of primarily singular PhD projects has thus been shifted, as per Mak’s research policy,” shared Prof. Buyinza. He however noted that translating scientific findings into the language that policy makers can easily understand remains a challenge, which the new collaboration period will seek to address.

In his welcome remarks, the Vice Chancellor Prof. John Ddumba Ssentamu thanked the H.E. Amb. Per Lindgärde, the First Secretary and Senior Research Advisor, Dr. Gity Behravan as well as Swedish and Ugandan partners for taking time off their schedules to attend the meeting.
Some of the Swedish Partners that attended the Annual Review Meeting listen to the day's proceedings
“This Annual Review Meeting symbolises the nature and character of the relationship between Makerere University and the Royal Government and People of Sweden. It is an opportunity to take stock of our performance within our agreement for joint research cooperation,” remarked the Vice Chancellor.

Prof. Ddumba-Ssentamu appreciated the fundamental role played by Swedish Government support in strengthening the University’s capacity to deliver her core functions. “This support has indeed greatly contributed to our visibility and status. I wish therefore, on behalf of Makerere University, to extend our sincere gratitude to the Royal Government of Sweden for this continued support,” underscored the Vice Chancellor.

In her remarks, Dr. Gity Behravan stressed that support to Mak is in line with the institutional Research Agenda which is also generated from Uganda’s National Development Plan (NDP). This, she said, will strengthen all efforts of knowledge production and use. She therefore called upon all presenters at the Annual Review Meeting to take note of the importance of highlighting the research results that can be used in knowledge generation to improve focus areas as outlined in the 2014-2018 Sida bilateral cooperation strategy for Uganda. These include; strengthening of democracy and human rights, better maternal and child health, increased employment and reduced violence against women.
One of the presenters Dr. Jamil Ssenku (L) answers questions from the audience. Second Right is MUST Vice Chancellor-Prof. Celestino Obua and Right is Deputy Director DRGT-Prof. David Owiny
Emphasizing the need to communicate research findings, Dr. Behravan noted that “today’s research is tomorrow’s welfare and this needs to be better known and seen and felt.” She restated the Swedish Government’s appreciation of the link between research and development and expressed hope that the Ugandan Government commitment to University research and research training would be demonstrated by an increased share of the national budget.

The Government of Uganda under the new cabinet has introduced a Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. Representing the line Minister Hon. Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye at the Annual Review Meeting, the Executive Director, Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI), Prof. Charles Kwesiga reassured all gathered of the Government’s full support through the new fully fledged ministry.

A Science Day is one of the activities that traditionally constitute the Sida Annual Review Meeting. This year’s presentations included: Could secondary metabolites from cruciferous vegetables serve as a source of industrial chemicals in Uganda? by Assoc. Prof. Steven Nyanzi; Using Mathematical Models for Policy Making by Dr. Betty Nanyonga Kivumbi; and Nutri-medicinal plants used in the management of HIV/AIDS opportunistic infections by Dr. Savina Asimwe.
Director DRGT Prof. Mukadasi Buyinza meets some of the PhD student beneficiaries under the current phase of funding
Other presentations were: What is the place for transdisciplinary Research in our University Setting by Dr. Kenneth Arinaitwe; Mathematical Modeling for Infectious and Non-infectious Diseases by Dr. John Kitayimbwa; and Bioactivity, Toxicity and Phytochemistry of selected plant species by Ms. Adia Mohammed Madina. Two other presentations were delivered by Mr. Alex Tumwesigye on One-Dimensional Dynamical Systems and Commutativity Commuting Elements in Non-Commutative Algebras, and Dr. Jamil Ssenku on Potential for phtoremediation of acid mine waste degraded sites by selected tree species in Kasese District.

The Annual Review Meeting was attended by the Leadership, Staff and Students of; Busitema University, Gulu University, Kyambogo University and Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST).

Article by Public Relations Office

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