The field of Environmental Science plays a very important and yet not often talked about role in society today. For example, did you know that Lake Nabugabo is scientifically considered very safe for recreation by WHO, US-EPA (World Health Organisation, United States-Environmental Protection Agency) standards owing to its natural inability to sustain snails; the intermediate hosts for bilharzia? Thanks to research by Environmental Scientist; Prof. James Okot-Okumu, we have access to such information, as well as more worrying trends. This world Ramsar Site could easily be destroyed within the next ten years unless the rapid development of recreation centres along its banks is regulated.
However, did you know that one of nature’s own Phytolacca Dodecandra also locally known as Luwooko in Central Uganda produces chemicals that can kill fresh water snails; the intermediary hosts of bilharzia? Research by other Environmental Scientists in Ethiopia has gone on to prove that Phytolacca Dodecandra is best stored in powder and not in seed form for maximum potency. All this and more came to light as Prof. Okot-Okumu delivered the Professorial Inaugural Lecture before friends, family and students in the Main Hall, Makerere University on 25th October 2019.
Congratulating Prof. Okot-Okumu upon reaching his milestone, the Acting Vice Chancellor and Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs), Dr. Umar Kakumba noted that Professorial Inaugural Lectures mark the apex of the scholarly journey of University academics the world over.
“Professors are appointed to this rank following a scholarly journey of searching for new knowledge in their areas of expertise. It is therefore important that they should make this information accessible to the public, by way of contribution to society” added Dr. Kakumba.
The Acting Vice Chancellor also paid tribute to the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), and the Department of Environmental Management; the academic home of Prof. James Okot-Okumu in particular, for its contributions to research, and added “your outgoing Department Chair is both challenging and inspiring you today.”
Earlier on, the Chairperson of the Professorial Inaugural Lectures Organising Committee, Prof. Elly Sabiiti had introduced the theme of the Lecture; “Evolution of Environmental Science: The Science of Integration”. He shared that this was an important subject concerned with the relationship between the environment, man and society, which is more relevant today as the world contends with the effects of climate change.
Prof. Sabiiti noted that although Professorial Inaugural Lectures are meant to be given following appointment to the rank, Professors may present them at different points in their career.
“I therefore wish to take this opportunity to encourage both recently appointed and the longstanding Professors to make use of this unique opportunity to showcase their expertise as intellectuals, by demonstrating the value and worth of being Professor” urged Prof. Sabiiti.
It was a moment of pride for CAES as the Principal Prof. Bernard Bashaasha took to the podium to read the citation in honour of Prof. James Okot-Okumu.
“This afternoon as it is in the tradition of this great university; Makerere University, we have a presentation of the Professorial Inaugural Lecture that follows the conferring of the rank of full professor on an academic by the university. This is a tradition that has been practiced by universities the world over, to celebrate the professional achievements, scholarship and the contributions of a Professor to the university, social and economic development of the nation” beamed Prof. Bashaasha.
Prof. Bashaasha shared that Prof. Okot-Okumu joined Makerere University as a Lecturer in 1990 and gradually grew through the ranks of Senior Lecturer, Associate Professor to full Professor. Since then, he has taught courses such as: Water Resources Management, Cleaner Production, Solid Waste Management, Pollution Analysis, Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) and Environmental Audit.
Prof. Okot-Okumu has conducted research on water quality, water pollution and solid waste management and shared his findings through publications in scientific journals and book chapters. He has also supervised graduate students of Environmental Science and Natural Resources at Makerere University as well as students of Waste Management at Wageningen University in the Netherlands and Kenyatta University, Kenya.
Before delving into his presentation, Prof. James Okot-Okumu paid tribute to his wife; Mrs. Judith Achen Okot, his children, other members of the family present and colleagues. The family man could not hide his love and appreciation for his family, whose support had seen him scale the academic ladder. He equally thanked his colleagues for the encouragement and mentorship over the years.
It was clear from the presentation that Prof. Okot-Okumu takes great inspiration from quotes. Right from Ernest Haeckel (1834-1919) who coined the term ecology, to George Washington Carver (1865-1943) who introduced modern day farming in the USA, the Professorial Inaugural Lecture deliverer took the audience on a journey of appreciating science in the context of history its contribution to current body of knowledge.
For example, Prof. Okot-Okumu shared that Forest Rivers near Kampala City specifically in Mabira, Kitubulu, Zika and Mpanga have historically apart from sustaining the forest hydrology, also carried along water with nutrients and other materials obtained from the forests that feed the downstream ecosystems. This, he noted, is however being threatened by the continued encroachment on these forests as human activity increases.
“With the rapid degradation of these forests mainly from illegal felling of trees, the evapotranspiration and infiltration components of the hydrological cycle are reduced while runoff water losses are increased in these locations within the Lake Victoria basin and are putting stress on environmental maintenance requirements of the rivers” warned Prof. Okot-Okumu.
He also made reference to the increasing cost of piped water supplied by the National Water and Sewerage Corporation as another effect of human and industrial activity polluting the Murchison bay of Lake Victoria.
“Water treatment at this utility is now gradually replacing Aluminium sulphate with synthetic polymers as coagulant at an added cost to consumers. There is therefore need to think about innovative cheaper way to treat water especially for the sector of the community who cannot afford the current costs of water” he explained.
Thankfully, Prof. Okot-Okumu and fellow researchers in 2015 conducted research on the use of alternative solutions readily available in nature to treat water.
“Having seen drawbacks in some of the conventional methods, we have tested some readily available plant materials that required simple preparation methods and were cheap to use. These are seed powders from Java plum, Jackfruit and Moringa that worked very well as coagulates to clarify water from community wells” shared Prof. Okot-Okumu.
He added that the same seed powders, when used in certain concentrations were able to remove turbidity (matter suspended in water) by more than 95% as well as the bacterial effects of agents like E. coli, P. aeruginosa, S. Typhii, S .dysenteriae, S. aureus and S. faecalis within the range of 98 -100% hence making the water safe for drinking.
As the urban centres continue to expand, increasing amounts of solid waste are being generated and poorly disposed of in the environment. Prof. Okot-Okumu therefore advocated for the application of approaches of Integrated Solid Waste Management (ISWM), which he said would help prolong the lifespans of landfills such as Kiteezi owned by the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA).
“Applying approaches of ISWM such as Cleaner Production (CP), Lean Production (LP), Industrial Ecology (EC), Circular Economy (CE) and Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) that are Green Development Strategies can mitigate the impacts of solid wastes” advised Prof. Okot-Okumu.
He proposed that science needs to copy more from nature whereby the waste from one organism or system becomes a raw material or input for another. This, he further shared, would create a very efficient system for sustainability and mitigate damage to the environment caused by poorly disposed of solid waste.
Whereas Prof. Okot-Okumu admitted that Makerere University through the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) plays a leading role in training the best Environmental Science graduates in Uganda, he his concluded his Professorial Inaugural Lecture with a call to action.
“The university can still do better by allowing the training programs at DEM to evolve together with the national and global challenges of environmental management. By working in collaboration with other Departments in Science and Social Sciences at the university, DEM can improve on the training and research in environmental science to support Uganda’s sustainable development efforts” Prof. Okot-Okumu concluded.
Article by Public Relations Office
Mak Commissions CoVAB@50 Celebrations, Awards Certificates
The College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB) on Thursday 17th June, 2021 commenced celebrations to mark 50 Years of Veterinary Higher Education, Science, Technology, Innovation and Services (HESTIS) in Uganda. The blended event held at the Industrial Livestock Research, Incubation and Skilling (ILRIS) Center at Nakyesasa, Namulonge as well as online was presided over by the Chancellor, Prof. Ezra Suruma and First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports (MoES), Hon. Janet Museveni both represented by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe.
The event, held as part of Makerere University Centenary Celebrations (1922-2022) was a moment of celebration for 1,930 skilled livestock agribusiness entrepreneurs who were awarded certificates in recognition of completion of their respective courses. Owing to the strict Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) instituted by the Ministry of Health (MoH) to curb the spread of COVID-19, the students from Incubation Hubs in Atiak, Butaleja, Mubende, Nakyesasa, Sheema and Wakiso were awarded their certificates virtually.
In her remarks read by Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, Hon. Janet Museveni thanked Makerere University for supporting grassroots level development through groundbreaking innovations under the Africa Institute for Strategic Services and Development-Skills for Production Enterprise Development and Accreditation (AFRISA-SPEDA) model.
“I am extremely pleased that Makerere University, through those innovative approaches, has developed and launched the alternative approach to building human capital and transferring knowledge to enterprises in communities.
“I would like to encourage all those involved in skills development to adopt methodologies that transform those trainees that go through these programs in ways that enable them also transform the societies they live in” read the Minister’s remarks.
She further noted that commissioning of the CoVAB@50 celebrations was both timely and rewarding. “The commissioning of the college innovations indeed has made meaning. This is a true path to growth of an Academic and Development College of the University, and we congratulate you again.”
Addressing the congregation as Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe congratulated CoVAB alumna and incoming Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation (MoSTI) under the Office of the President, Dr. Monica Musenero upon her recent appointment. “We thank His Excellency the President for identifying you. Science is in good hands.”
Prof. Nawangwe urged Dr. Musenero to address the structures of managing research and innovation in Uganda, “including the role of the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology and the apparent need to establish a Research Council for Uganda.”
In the same breath he thanked the outgoing and pioneer Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Hon. Dr. Elioda Tumuwesigye, for his role in ensuring that the ministry is empowered to carry out its mandate.
The Chancellor congratulated CoVAB upon training the bulk of Veterinary Doctors in Uganda over the last 50 years and more recently, Laboratory Technologists at the highest level. He recognised Makerere University‘s obligation to contribute to the economic self-determination of Uganda and thanked CoVAB for conducting research that addresses hindrances to national development, especially in the livestock industry.
“The anti-tick vaccine is one of such innovations which will solve the huge problem of tick-borne diseases that have caused enormous losses to our farmers. There are many other problems on which the college is researching and we thank you for the enthusiasm” he added.
The Chancellor commended CoVAB for being the vanguard of transformation of the grassroots communities through the SPEDA model. “I urge Government to fund this important initiative so that it can more meaningfully contribute to solving the big problem of youth unemployment.”
In her remarks, Dr. Monica Musenero commended the Principal, CoVAB, Prof. John David Kabasa for fulfilling the College’s dream of enabling the masses who drop out of the education value chain as well as those who complete education but have no skills for livelihood, to attain certification in agribusiness entrepreneurship.
“Many people attain academic success and write papers, publish and they become professors but without demonstrable impact on their nation. You have shown by the thousands that you have touched nationwide that indeed you are a professor of national transformation. Congratulations,” remarked Dr. Musenero.
She therefore congratulated the teams at CoVAB and AFRISA upon successfully conceiving and executing a model that is non-traditional, informal, not easily understood and not documented in any textbooks.
As Minister, Dr. Musenero noted that witnessing thousands of individuals from across the country whose skills had been honed through a university programme receiving certificates gave her a lot of hope and material to embark on her tenure with. “I will be looking forward to harnessing these resources as we initiate work on the next leg of Science, Technology and Innovation in the country under the President’s Office.”
The invitation to the Principal, CoVAB to present students for the award of the ordinary diplomas, ordinary certificates and artisan certificates was given by the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs), Dr. Umar Kakumba. He congratulated the awardees upon successfully completing their respective courses and graduating with evidence on an enterprise.
Prof. Kabasa clarified that the approach used to train the day’s awardees was not simply a vocational skilling. “The combination of action research with knowledge transfer, skilling, plus assessment and accreditation processes done by organs like the DIT (Directorate of Industrial Training, MoES) has given us this result, for the University to provide true leadership and transformation of the community.”
Present at the celebrations were the Director, DIT, MoES-Mr. Byakatonda Patrick and the Deputy Commissioner Social Services Development, MoES Madam Elizabeth Bateme who have worked through the Academic-Community-Public-Private-Partnership model to ensure that students graduate as entrepreneurs with micro enterprises.
Prior to presiding over the ceremony, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, on behalf of the First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports officially commissioned the SPEDA Training, Incubation and Research Centre – Nakyesasa.
UNMA Advisory on Agriculture and Food Security Jun-Aug 2021
The Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA) on 7th June 2021 released the seasonal rainfall outlook for the June-July-August (JJA) 2021 period. Contained in the outlook were advisories to various strategic sectors of the economy.
Particularly, the advisory to the Agriculture and Food Security sector was;
- JJA season is often part of the normal dry season in the areas of South-western, western, parts of the eastern, and central Uganda. The farming communities in these areas are therefore advised to be vigilant during post-harvest handling by considering proper drying of the harvest on clean surfaces, use of tarpaulins and drying on racks;
- Preparation of good storage facilities of produce to avoid compromising on quality and safety;
- Channeling of the run-off water into the gardens in order to maximize on the soil moisture conservation;
- For those areas where near normal to above normal rainfall is expected (most parts of northern and eastern Uganda), farmers are encouraged to continue with regular weeding, pest and disease surveillance and control;
- Due to the expected enhanced rainfall in those areas, water logging and proliferation of fungal and bacterial crop diseases are likely to occur.
- Open drainage channels around household and gardens to reduce risks from stagnant water causing damage to root tuber crops;
- Flash floods and waterlogging are highly anticipated to occur in low lying areas expected to receive enhanced rainfall such as Katakwi and Kapelebyong. Therefore, communities are encouraged to keep watch over their crops, animals and property;
- In Karamoja sub-region, where wetter conditions are expected, the pastoral communities are advised to diversify into boosting the production of cereals (sorghum, millet, and maize), beans, and ground nuts and sustain pasture availability for livestock.
Please see Downloads for the detailed outlook.
4th Call For Applications: MURBS Departmental Ambassadors
In February 2018, the Makerere University Retirement Benefits Scheme (MURBS) launched the Departmental Ambassadors Programme. MURBS hopes to use this Ambassadors Programme to engage more directly with its membership and enhance member education. MURBS further perceives this Programme as a means to mitigate succession planning risks.
MURBS Fund Value continues to grow, and as at 31st March 2021, it stood at Ushs 235.5bn as compared to Ushs 209.6bn as at 30th June 2020. Given this growth, there is increased need for prospective Trustees, who are well equipped with relevant knowledge and skills, and with practical exposure to the management and governance of MURBS.
- Must be employed by the University on permanent terms
- Must be an Active Member of the Scheme (currently contributing to the Scheme) and appear on the Official Register of the MURBS Active Membership as at 30th April 2021.
- Must be willing to commit time to trainings and other ambassadorial activities organised by the Scheme.
Mode of training for 4th Cohort of Ambassadors
Training for this (4th) Cohort of Ambassadors is envisaged to be conducted over the zoom online platform only, due to Covid-19 restrictions. The Scheme does not envisage any face-to-face interactions.
Tenure of Office & Termination or Withdrawal
There is no tenure of office for the Departmental Ambassador. As long as a member is willing to continue serving as an Ambassador, and the Ambassador continues to satisfy the eligibility criteria above, she or he will remain a MURBS Ambassador.
How to Apply
Interested members should complete the MURBS Departmental Ambassador Application Form 01-0218. The completed Form together with the requested attachments should be sent to info[at]murbs.mak.ac.ug and copy to wilber.naigambi[at]mak.ac.ug no later than 5:00 p.m. on Monday, 14th June 2021. We discourage hand delivery of applications.
MURBS shall acknowledge receipt of each application received within 12 hours and will respond to the applicants to confirm the status of their application in writing (by e-mail). Upon approval of the application, the name of the approved Ambassador together with the Department and School/Unit will be updated on the list of the MURBS Departmental Ambassadors in the Group 4 category and published on the MURBS website.
NOTE: There is no limit as to the number of ambassadors that MURBS can have in a department.
Please see Downloads for the detailed call and application form.
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