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Innovative Volunteerism Key to Africa’s Transformational Change

  • In General
  • 9 Feb 2018 - 6:04pm
  • By Mark Wamai
  • 289
Dr. Richard Munang-UN Environment Regional Climate Change Programme Coordinator for Africa (3rd R), Dr. Revocatus Twinomuhangi (4th L) with members of staff and students who attended the public lecture delivered by the former on 8th February 2018, at the SFTNB Conference Hall, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda.

The Conference Hall at the School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bioengineering, Makerere University was abuzz with expectation on the hot Thursday afternoon of 8th February 2018 as students from Universities within Kampala and as far as Busitema University gathered to listen to Dr. Richard Munang demystify Innovative Volunteerism.

Dr. Richard Munang who is the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Africa Regional Climate Change Programme Coordinator has been at the forefront of championing Innovative Voluteerism through UNEP’s Ecosystem Based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly (EBAFOSA) where he is the Focal Person.

“Innovative Volunteerism is not blind optimism” declared Dr. Munang, before going on to explain “Innovative Volunteerism is pinned on the spirit of selfless commitment towards Africa's socio-economic development.”

Dr. Munang asked his audience not to confuse Volunteerism with Innovative Volunteerism. “With volunteerism, you are offering your skills and labour free of charge while with Innovative Volunteerism, you not only do something with your skills that connects the dots or fills the gaps in agro-productivity but also benefits you as economic gain is eventually realised” he clarified.  

Dr. Richard Munang, the UN Environment Regional Climate Change Programme Coordinator for Africa delivers his keynote address at Makerere University, Kampala Uganda on 8th February 2018

He future expounded that Innovative Volunteerism is delivered through EBAFOSA where everyone is brought together for climate action and socioeconomic transformation through sustainable agriculture-led clean energy powered industrialization. “I challenge you to likewise embark on this transformational approach to doing business in Africa called Innovative Volunteerism” rallied Dr. Munang.

In his remarks, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe who was represented by Prof. Bernard Bashaasha, Principal-College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) thanked UNEP and EBAFOSA for choosing Makerere University as a collaborative associate in organising the public lecture.

“I am therefore delighted to have all of you here at Makerere University to discuss how we can make Africa work through the power of Innovative Volunteerism. Makerere University hosts the biggest number of youth in Uganda’s Higher Education. This is our biggest resource that can be tapped into in the quest to popularise innovative volunteerism,” read Prof. Nawangwe’s speech.

The public lecture was organised by the Makerere University Centre for Climate Research and Innovations (MUCCRI) under the theme “Engendering an Inclusive Africa under Climate Change: the Power of Innovative Volunteerism”. MUCCRI was launched in 2013 under CAES to enhance climate change knowledge generation and dissemination.

Prof. Bernard Bashaasha delivers the Vice Chancellor's address at the Public Lecture

“Through MUCCRI, the University brings together researchers and scientists from within and outside Makerere University, government officials, civil society, and private sector actors to collaboratively and locally address climate change, share information, and solve problems on adaptation technologies and research” added the Vice Chancellor.

Earlier, the audience had listened to the EBAFOSA Uganda Chapter President, Mr. Patrick Luganda, who explained that EBAFOSA is a pan-African platform based in 40 African countries that seeks to combat food insecurity and climate change using an inclusive approach that produces results at the grassroots level. He noted that each and every student present in the audience could easily join the EBAFOSA network, noting that the platform’s impact in Africa thrives on a vibrant network of volunteers.

The public lecture was also addressed by Mr. Isaac Ndamuhaki from FIKA Africa Advocacy Foundation; a youth led non-profit organization focusing on empowering communities with sustainable solutions and empowerment programs in education, environment and agriculture, healthcare, financial literacy and life skills. He urged participants to join the foundations upcoming community awareness drive on autism.

Dr. Munang in his keynote address further noted that gatherings that brought together youth at higher education institutions such as the public lecture will “tap into our togetherness to tie down the lion of food insecurity.”

L-R: Dr. Revocatus Twinomuhangi, Dr. Richard Munang, Mr. Patrick Luganda and Mr. Isaac Ndamuhaki at the public lecture on Innovative Volunteerism, 8th February 2018

“In the Democratic Republic of Congo, through the EBAFOSA Framework a group of graduate youthful agripreneurs have channeled their skills, networks and capital to optimise the cassava value chain. These young people process cassava into flour, package it, standardise it and sell to bakers. With this integration, the youth generate up to $4,000 as weekly income, translating to $16,000 monthly and $196,000 annually,” shared Dr. Munang much to the amazement of his audience.

Touching on the EBAFOSA standards currently being domesticated in Uganda for the cassava value chain, Dr. Munang said that producers in Busiro stood a chance of tapping into the US$200million African market, which is way beyond their current market under the Uganda Breweries initiative. He shared that although Cassava is the second most important staple crop in Uganda, it has the most significant losses of up to 90% of its initial value – translating to over $30 million annually, as a result of poor postharvest handling techniques and lack of viable value addition initiatives.

As he concluded his keynote address, Dr. Munang pointed out that with Innovative Volunteerism, it is neither a top-down approach nor a bottom-up approach, but rather a blend of ideas from a host of individuals possessing different skill sets that works. He urged his listeners to shun attitudes that have previously kept Africa lagging behind and instead embrace authenticity and persistence, which hold the key to the success stories so far recorded under Innovative Volunteerism. “Attitude is not a way of life, it can be changed. Always aspire not to make a living but to make a difference” he concluded.

Part of the audience at the Public Lecture on Innovative Volunteerism delivered by Dr. Richard Munang

Moving a vote of thanks and giving the closing remarks at the end of the public lecture, the Coordinator MUCCRI and day’s moderator Dr. Revocatus Twinomuhangi thanked Dr. Richard Munang for not only coming to Uganda but also agreeing to deliver the keynote address at Makerere University. He urged the audience to carefully consider the nuggets of wisdom given by Dr. Munang in his address and use them to make a difference in their community.

“I also urge you to take advantage of all the opportunities presented to you by EBAFOSA and MUCCRI to come up with a different way of doing business. In all we do, we need to make a difference” concluded Dr. Twinomuhangi.

 

Article by Public Relations Office

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