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Agriculture & Environment

MAKNAI Hand Pump Automation to Eliminate COVID-19 Spread at Boreholes

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“Boreholes and shallow wells account for 67.6% of the water sources in rural areas in Uganda and supply water to an estimated 18,540,000 persons” remarked Dr. Nicholas Kiggundu. “Each well or borehole supplies about 300 persons in the wet seasons, and more than 1,000 persons during dry spells,” continued the Principal Investigator as he gave a background of the project.

MAKNAI is an acronym for the Makerere UniversityMAK NAyIkondo – vernacular for borehole, a prototype to automate cranking of the hand pump that draws water from a well. Designed by a team from the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (DABE), School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bioengineering (SFTNB), College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) the prototype consists of a PV (photovoltaic) panel, battery, solar charge controller, inverter, motor, pulleys, belt, reciprocating arm and a foot switch. The foot switch further serves to replace the use of palms and fingers to crank the pump handle, as is the practice while drawing water at boreholes.

The MAKNAI v1.0 prototype setup at the School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bioengineering (SFTNB), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda.

Funded by the Government of Uganda under the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF), the research project was titled: “Automation of communal hand water pumps to eliminate COVID-19 transmission”. The title was motivated by the observation that alternative solutions of limiting the spread of COVID-19 such as washing hands with water and soap or use of chemical sanitizers are difficult to enforce especially in the low income rural and peri-urban communities where the boreholes are found.

In addition to eliminating COVID-19 transmission at boreholes, this project is in line with the Ministry of Water and Environment’s efforts to replace hand pumped boreholes with submersible pumps as a means of eliminating drudgery, prolonging the life of boreholes, and supplying water to bigger populations in a shorter time. Other members of the project team are; Dr. Prossie Nakawuka, Mr. Sam Cherotich, Eng. Joseph Kizito, Eng. Robert Baluku and Mr. Gyaviira Ssewankambo a student researcher.

 

The PI-Dr. Nicholas Kiggundu (L) with part his team during the MAKNAI research dissemination event.

Welcoming participants to the research dissemination event held on 30th December 2020 at the SFTNB Conference Hall, the Chair DABE, Prof. Noble Banadda applauded the Government of Uganda for enabling members of staff to turn research ideas into innovations that are transforming livelihoods and communities through Mak-RIF.

“If there is anything that has proved to the world that research is important, it is COVID-19. The MAKNAI prototype is one of several innovations that the Department has developed to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. These include: The Touchless Handwashing (Tw-20) Kit, the thermal imaging detector of COVID-19; and the use of 3D printing technology to make biodegradable face masks, and on a wider scale, to teach science, technology, engineering and mathematics and plan urban centres” said Prof. Banadda.

As Chair, he expressed pleasure at leading a team whose every member holds a PhD, is committed to undertaking research, which has led to innovations and the production of at least 27 publications in different journals. “I am happy to inform you that this year, I have been able to mobilise research grants worth 10million USD” he added.

The Deputy Principal CAES, Dr. Gorettie Nabanoga addresses the audience

In her remarks the Deputy Principal CAES, Dr. Gorettie Nabanoga applauded Dr. Kiggundu and his team for bringing great pride to the college and University. “Your innovation is going to be a flagship of some of the activities that the college has done because it touches the most rural individual in this country.”

Dr. Nabanoga who represented the Principal CAES, Prof. Bernard Bashaasha acknowledged that women in villages are involved in gardening, fetching water from boreholes, taking care of children and other household chores. She added that the MAKNAI innovation would help women save time and energy which would have otherwise been expended on this laborious task.

She thanked the Vice Chancellor for the excellent leadership that conforms to his manifesto and dream for a better Makerere. “We have been recognized in the whole country as the source of knowledge and innovation that contributes to the development of the country.”

Presiding over the event, the Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe thanked all invited guests particularly from the Ministries, Departments and Agencies as well as Local Governments for sparing time to attend the research dissemination. Citing his manifesto theme for the Vice Chancellorship – “Unlocking the potential of Makerere University, he prayed that numerous innovations would lend credence to the fact that the University’s potential was being unlocked.

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe could not hide his delight while presiding over the MAKNAI research dissemination event and prototype launch

Prof. Nawangwe thanked the Government of Uganda for recognizing the importance of homegrown solutions by allocating specific funding for research and innovations at Makerere University. He commended the Mak-RIF Grants Management Committee (GMC) for ensuring that awardees account for the funding received, “and I am glad to say that over the last two to three months, there has been a launch of a product or innovation at Makerere University almost every day because of RIF.”

He expressed confidence that by producing innovations such as MAKNAI, Mak-RIF has the potential to turn around the country’s fortunes in a very short time by providing employment to the exploding young population. “This innovation alone if well handled can change a lot of lives and generate income for Makerere, and I am happy to hear that one of the team members is going to immediately work on registration of Intellectual Property for it.”

Dr. Kiggundu while presenting the research findings shared that the study conducted in the districts of Wakiso, Mukono, and Buvuma was informed by; i) time taken to fill a 20 litre jerrycan, ii) maximum power needed to draw water from the borehole, iii) borehole dimensions and iv) borehole discharge. Based on data from the three districts, the PV (photovoltaic) system, battery to supply the needed power, and the motor to drive the system were sized and sourced from the market.

Eventually, a 1.4 horsepower Alternating Current (AC) motor with a crank speed of 100 rpm and generating average torque of 68 Nm was obtained. The other units of the system including the pulleys, belt reciprocating arm and foot switch were developed in-house at Makerere University.

Residents of Kisaali B Landing Site, Buvuma Island gather to witness the MAKNAI v1.0 prototype in action during a field test. Photo credit: MAKNAI

Nevertheless, Dr. Kiggundu reported that parts such as a 1 horsepower Direct Current (DC) motor were hard to find on both local and international markets. The team also faced challenges during in-house fabrication as the parts produced weren’t often an accurate fit.

Despite the various challenges, the team produced the MAKNAI v1.0 prototype which after successful field tests was able to fill a 20 litre jerrycan within an average time of 50seconds at boreholes with depths ranging from of 12 to 70 metres. The communities where the prototype was installed appreciated and welcomed the innovation as it reduced the time spent by each user at the borehole by over 70%.

“MAKNAI eliminated the drudgery experienced by the users especially children, the elderly and expectant mothers because pumping water at a borehole requires lots of energy;” shared Dr. Kiggundu, before comically noting that, “you don’t need to go to the gym if you go to the borehole daily.” He appealed for more support from stakeholders to help scale-up the project. 

The highlight of the research dissemination was the unveiling of a working MAKNAI v1.0 prototype installed at SFTNB by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe. The event moderated by Ms. Ritah Namisango, Principal Public Relations Officer and DABE’s Dr. Joshua Wanyama, Principal Investigator of the “Development of a Green Low-Cost Touchless Handwash Technology (TW-20 Kit) for public Shared Spaces” project.

Article by Public Relations Office

Agriculture & Environment

CAES Freshers Trained on ODEL Method of Teaching and Learning

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Some of the Freshers from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) listen keenly to proceedings during the training by IODeL on MUELE and other learning platforms on 24th February 2021, SFTNB Conference Hall, Makerere University.

Officials from the Makerere University Institute of Open, Distance and e-Learning (IODeL) have allayed students fears over the costs of internet connectivity as the university adopts blended learning amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic.

While introducing first year students from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) to the ODEL based method of teaching and learning, Dr. Samuel Siminyu told freshers that they will be able to access the Makerere University e-learning Environment (MUELE)  and  other learning platforms at Zero rate.

On 24th February 2021, over 500 first year students from the CAES converged at the Conference Hall in the School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio engineering for training on the theory and demonstration of what technologies they will use to help them learn.

The training of freshers follows the strategy that government has adopted of staggering whereby students are on campus for short periods and in this particular semester for one month, and out  working remotely for the rest of the two months.

Dr. Siminyu said because of the adoption of blended learning which is a mix of the traditional face-to-face and online learning, the university is migrating from what was familiar to the unfamiliar territory by beginning with freshers’ introduction to this type of learning.

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Agriculture & Environment

Wageningen Online Courses with Scholarship

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Secondary School Students tour one of the exhibition stalls during the Agricultural Day and Exhibition on 25th September 2019, Freedom Square, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda

Apply for a scholarship for one of these online courses before 16 March 2021. After this deadline you can still register for the course when you have other sources of financing until an average of 6 weeks before the start of the course.

List of Courses

  • Food Security in a Changing Climate 2021
  • Farmer Agency for Rural Economies 2021
  • Feeding Cities: Improving Food Systems in Urban Areas 2021
  • Lost Harvest and Wasted Food 2021
  • Plant Genetic Resources and Resilient Seed Systems for Sustainable Food Security 2021
  • Local Economic Development: towards Local Agribusiness Cluster Development 2021
  • Facilitating Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships to Foster Sustainable and Inclusive Food Systems 2021
  • Youth Entrepreneurship in Agriculture and Changing Food Systems 2021
  • Engage Young People Towards Climate and Social Resilience 2021 [French]
  • Global One Health: towards Human, Animal and Plant Health 2021
  • Responsible Aquaculture Development 2021

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Agriculture & Environment

Highlights of 16 Years of Soybean Research at Makerere University

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Part of the Research Team L-R: Prof. Phinehas Tukamuhabwa-Soybean Breeder, Paul Kabayi-Senior Technician, Tonny Obua-Soybean Breeder, Mercy Namara-Training Coordinator, George Yiga-Technician

Sixteen years of soybean research at Makerere University have led to a rapid increase in the number of industries engaged in processing soybean in Uganda and neighbouring countries.

This report provides highlights of the contribution of rust-resistant soybean varieties to the agricultural sector in Uganda. It contains forward-looking research results based on current research findings and forecasts made by the Centre for Soybean Research and Development from 2002 to 2018.

Soybean was first introduced in Uganda way back in 1908. Its production was emphasized to combat malnutrition and to provide soldiers with highly nutritious food during the Second World War. Like most new crops, soybean was not readily accepted by the local people based on claims that it depleted soil fertility, could not be cooked like commonly known legumes, had beany flavor and lacked a readily available market.

The soybean crop was also not given consistent recognition by the National Agricultural Research System (NARS) and suffered decline in production due to a major out break of soybean rust disease in 1996.

Makerere University in collaboration with the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) and Vegetable Oil Development Project (VODP) of the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) undertook research to control soybean rust disease and to promote and disseminate soybean seed of locally developed superior varieties.

Through efforts of the Centre for Soybean Improvement and Development (MAKCSID), the soybean rust pandemic was brought under control, through breeding and dissemination of superior varieties to the farming communities. Currently over 93% of these varieties are grown across the country.

These efforts were spearheaded by Prof. Phinehas Tukamuhabwa from the Department of Agricultural Production.

Please see Downloads for the detailed report.

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