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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

My Academic Journey

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Article Author Ms. Irene Bayiyana. Photo: RUFORUM

My name is Irene Bayiyana and I am one of the RUFORUM Alumni. I am an agricultural economist, with a master’s degree in Agricultural and Applied Economics and a PhD in Economics. Currently, I am working as a Research Officer/Agricultural Economist based at the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO)/ National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) – Namulonge. When I attained a bachelor’s degree, I worked as an assistant research fellow under Prof. Johnny Mugisha in the Department of agribusiness and natural resource economics at Makerere University. Through Prof. Johnny Mugisha, I got to know about the RUFORUM Grant on “Assessment of spatio-temporal bovine migratory routes and Transboundary animal disease infestation in Uganda”. Since I had the interest to advance my career, I applied for the scholarship

After my admission for the master’s degree, I wondered! what next? The African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) had only offered a partial scholarship catering for only my tuition and part of research funds. RUFORUM scholarship covered my stipend, research balance and funds to attend the 2012 RUFORUM Biennial conference thus enabling me to complete my master’s degree.

I was able to realize my dream of becoming a good scientist in 2012 at the RUFORUM Biennial Conference. Through the facilitation to attend several conferences, RUFORUM gave me a chance to interact with a broad spectrum of scientists from whom I learnt and received positive criticism and feedback on what I was doing. Moreover, the encouragement and support from different scientists that I interacted with also spurred me on as an upcoming scientist.

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Agriculture & Environment

Senior Public Servants Skilled on Policy Instruments Design under the IGE Program

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Mr. Peter Babyenda, Policy Engagement Specialist in charge of coordinating the IGE training program (L) with some of the physical participants on 16th September 2021, Protea Hotel, Kampala.

By Jane Anyango

Officials from Uganda’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have been equipped with skills and knowledge on how to design and enforce policy instruments to achieve compliance under the program called, Inclusive Green Economy (IGE) in Practice.

IGE in Practice, is a collaborative program between Makerere University’s Environment for Development Initiative (EfD-Mak) Center and the University of Gothenburg. The IGE program covers five countries namely Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda fully sponsored by Swedish Development Agency (Sida).

IGE program is aimed at strengthening Uganda’s capacity for transformation towards an Inclusive Green Economy largely under the United Nations SDG 8 that focuses on promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

A section of participants from Uganda's MDAs attending the meeting.
A section of participants from Uganda’s MDAs attending the meeting.

The program focuses on the use of environmental policy instruments, and specifically economic instruments such as environmental taxes, pollution fees, subsidies or subsidy reduction and other types of fiscal incentives for societal development in line with the Global Agenda 2030.

The two days training (16th-17th September, 2021) held physically and virtually brought Uganda’s senior public servants from the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Ministry of Water and Environment, the National Planning Authority and the National Environment Management Authority coordinated at Hotel Protea in Kampala.

The training was facilitated by the University of Gothenburg, Sweden including the IGE program Head at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, Prof. Anders Ekbom. Other instructors were Niklas Harring, Daniel Slunge, Emelie Ce’sar, Martin Solvinger and  Erik Sterner.

Prof. Anders Ekbom, IGE program Head at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden addresses participants.
Prof. Anders Ekbom, IGE program Head at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden addresses participants.

Speaking during the training, Makerere University’s Policy Engagement Specialist in charge of coordinating the IGE training program, Mr. Peter Babyenda said the major aim of the program is to create capacity among public servants to plan sustainably, so that while planning, they should be mindful of the future generation in terms of environmental issues.

Mr. Babyenda said, some of the participants from Uganda’s Ministry of Finance included the Director Cash and Debt, officials from the Department of Micro-economics and the Department of Tax.

“Why tax? If you are to regulate, you use tax. We want them on board so that they get skills and plan well.

Some of the Senior Public Servants that physically attended the meeting.
Some of the Senior Public Servants that physically attended the meeting.

Today, we have discussed how to design a policy instrument and what measures governments use in order to enforce something for example, if government wants to protect wetlands, what policy instrument can be used, and what can it  do to achieve the intended goals.

We have discussed various measures like tax and how you involve people. The public servants know these things but we want to remind them and give them new techniques so that while planning and budgeting,they should consider these issues if we are to sustainably manage the  environment”, Mr. Babyeda explained

Babyenda added that since the program inception in June 2021, two trainings have been conducted with the ones held on 16th and 17th September 2021 being the third and fourth respectively.

A screenshot of some of the facilitators and participants online
A screenshot of some of the facilitators and participants online

He said other trainings are planned for October 2021 and they will be wrapped up by regional trainings in November, 2021where the environment will be discussed generally among peers from Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Kenya and notes shall be compared.

“As you are aware, Rwanda and Kenya have gone ahead with green economy. Kenya is leading in terms of green economy and Rwanda is coming up as well as Tanzania but, in Uganda, the policy instruments are not being implemented.

Uganda was the first among those five countries to ban the use of plastics but up to now, plastics are in use and that is why we are targeting policy makers, so that they can advise the political class to manage the environment sustainably,” Mr. Babyenda stated.

A screenshot of facilitator Niklas Harring online
A screenshot of facilitator Niklas Harring online

Babyenda explained that this program  is an advanced in-service training with direct applicability in the participants’ daily work involving theoretical training within IGE, practical exercises, project development and support for implementing change.

Participants speak out on the training.

Dr. Ronald  Kagwa works with the National Planning Authority as Manager Production Trade and Trading planning and is also in-charge of implementing the Green growth  development strategy.

“We are here to build capacity in green growth policies especially how to use green growth instruments to advance inclusive growth in development. So today, has been a good day in that, we have learnt about policy instruments, trust, policy attitudes all which are critical for successful implementation of green policy instruments” Dr. Kagwa said.

Mr. Peter Babyenda (L) interacts with some trainees during a break.
Mr. Peter Babyenda (L) interacts with some trainees during a break.

Moreen Anino is an Assistant Commissioner in the Ministry of Water and Environment.

“I am happy to have learnt about social inclusion and developing instruments that are acceptable by the public because this will help us to achieve higher levels of compliance during implementation of these policies” Ms. Anino said.

Jane Anyango is the Principal Communication Officer, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES)

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Agriculture & Environment

Press Release: Twenty Two (22) winners of RUFORUM Young African Entrepreneurs Competition 2021 announced

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Delegates brainstorm during the 15th RUFORUM AGM held at the University of Cape Coast (UCC) in Ghana from 2-6 December, 2019. Photo credit: RUFORUM

The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) is pleased to announce the 22 winners of the 2021 RUFORUM Young African Entrepreneurs Competition. The competition attracted 340 applications from 26 countries in Africa namely Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, Cote d’Ivoire, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Somali, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia.

The following three-stage process was undertaken to identify the top 22 winners:

  1. All 340 applications were reviewed for compliance to the call guidelines
  2. A total of 319 (93.9%) applications were compliant and were each evaluated by three independent assessors
  3. Top 22 applications were selected basing on mean scores from the three independent evaluators.

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