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CoNAS Annual Report 2020



Welcome to the College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS); I have the pleasure to present to you our Annual Report for the year 2020.We thank the Almighty for taking us through a year of difficulty owing to the Covid19 pandemic which severally affected work at the university, nationally and globally. This is my 10th year serving as Principal of the College of Natural Sciences; I thank all the staff and leadership through the years for the support and hard work. We have been able to take the college to greater heights.

Our niche as a constituent College of Makerere University is teaching and carrying-out research in the basic and applied sciences. As you read this report, you will see many examples of how the College applies its expertise to serve our learners, Makerere University and Uganda as a nation through our teaching and research for a better future. All our work is premised on six strategic goals that guide the CoNAS 2020-2030 Strategic Plan: Goal 1: To increase the capacity of the College to train scientists for the country, the region and beyond Goal 2: To increase the number of demand driven high quality science programmes Goal 3: To strengthen demand driven scientific research and make the college more relevant to national development. Goal 4: To improve the operational efficiency of the College Goal 5: To create a conducive academic environment for students and staff and Goal 6: To maintain high academic standards that are recognized internationally.

Irrespective of the challenges arising from the Covid19 pandemic and curtailing of our work because of a lockdown for most of 2020, we are glad that our staff were able to produce multiple research papers, implement their research and still impart knowledge to our learners via ODEL supported by the Makerere University E-learning Environment online. This is the new normal and we have all had to adapt quickly and continue with our work as best as possible. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the College administration, staff and students for their continued support and participating in the activities of the College. Your hard work ensures that the College is able to move forward in realising its strategic goals.

As a requirement by the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) and University Senate, the College of Natural Sciences finalised review of its programmes and these have been to Senate and approved. From our research work by staff and students, the college has registered multiple research publications. The college realised a number of promotions as well as new recruitments to replace retiring staff and also fill gaps where staff had either resigned or died. I take this opportunity to recognize Prof. Deborah Baranga (Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences) and Prof. Sylvester Nyakana (Department of Plant Sciences, Microbiology and Biotechnology) who have served CoNAS and Makerere University diligently and rising through the ranks.

All that we have achieved through the year would not be possible without support from Government of Uganda, University Administration and partners, this we cannot take for granted. We hope for better in the year 2021 after the challenges of 2020.

As We Build for the Future

Professor J.Y.T Mugisha

Natural Sciences

Two Nutrifish-sponsored PhD students win awards of best oral presentations at ICAFA



NutriFish team at the ICAFA conference held from 1st to 3rd September, 2022 in Jinja, Uganda. L-R: Dr. Winnie Nkalubo, PhD Students Julliet Nafula Ogubi and Herbert Nakiyende, Dr. Margaret Masette and Dr. Jackson Efitre (NutriFish PI).

Two of the NutriFish-sponsored PhD students, Nakiyende Herbert and Julliet Nafula Ogubi won the awards for the best and second-best oral presentations in the young scientists’ category at the International Conference on Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (ICAFA) held in Jinja, Uganda from 1st-3rd September 2022.  The conference was organized under the theme “Breaking new grounds to recognize and celebrate the contribution of small-scale fisheries towards food security and nutrition”.   

Julliet Nafula Ogubi (L) and Herbert Nakiyende (R) with their awards at the conference.
Julliet Nafula Ogubi (L) and Herbert Nakiyende (R) with their awards at the conference.

Supported by the International Research Development Centre (IDRC) and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) through their joint programme, Cultivate Africa’s Future Fund (CultiAF), NutriFish aims to address the nutritional needs of vulnerable groups that cannot afford expensive commercial fish but are in critical need of high quality nutritious diets. The Project is coordinated by Dr. Jackson Efitre, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences, College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), Makerere University.

Dr. Jackson Efitre (NuriFish PI) with Herbert Nakiyende.
Dr. Jackson Efitre (NuriFish PI) with Herbert Nakiyende.

The title for Nakiyende Herbert’s presentation was: “Are small pelagic fisheries a blessing or curse? Understanding fisher community perceptions towards light fishing on Lake Albert, Uganda”.

Light fishing, the technique of catching fish by light attraction was introduced to Lake Albert, Uganda around early 2000s, to target two small pelagic species (SPS), Engraulicypris bredoi (muziri) and Brycinus nurse (ragoogi). The introduction of light fishing coincided with a period when stocks of large-bodied fishes, such as Tilapia spp, Lates niloticus, Bagras bajad, Alestes baremose, and Hydrocynus forskahlii in the Ugandan waters of Lake Albert had started to decline. Although Lake Albert is shared by Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), light fishing is prohibited in DRC waters. This study evaluated socio-ecological consequences of light fishing on the fisheries and lakeside communities of Lake Albert in Uganda, to inform sustainable management. Data was collected in April 2021 from three landing sites (Ntoroko, Kaiso, and Dei), through semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions. Light fishing has transformed the lake’s annual fish catch from < 60,000 tonnes (t) in early 2000s, mainly of large species to about 330,000 t, dominated by SPS (60 – 80%) by 2021. The SPS light fishery currently engages over 30% of total fishing boats and 60% of fishers in the Ugandan waters of the lake. The technique has also led to conflicts with fishers targeting the large-bodied species, the main concerns being: i) excessive light fishing effort; ii) competition for fishing grounds; iii) high by-catch (~10%) dominated by juveniles of the large species; and iv) destruction of passive fishing gears used in the large-bodied species fisheries. To ensure co-existence in the multi-species fishery and continued livelihood benefits (employment, income, and food) of the SPS light fishery, resting and closed periods and light-fishery effort control were proposed by 95.4% of respondents. Detailed scientific investigation of the light fishing methods is recommended, to guide on the proposed closed season and fishing effort controls.

Julliet Nafula Ogubi with her award at ICAFA.
Julliet Nafula Ogubi with her award at ICAFA.

Julliet Nafula Ogubi’s presentation was on: “Spoilage mechanisms and associated drivers in post-harvest loss management in freshwater small pelagic fishes in Africa”.

Small pelagic fishes (SPFs) are steadily being recognized for their contribution to livelihoods, food and nutritional security especially in developing countries. The SPFs are schooling fishes with a total length of 20 cm, preserved mainly by open sun-drying.  Despite the bulk harvests, post-harvest losses associated with spoilage continue to hamper their availability, accessibility and consumption. A review of available literature on similar marine species revealed that spoilage commences immediately after harvest and progresses through three cascading but overlapping processes: autolytic (enzymatic), microbial and chemical reactions causing physical, quality, nutritional and economic losses. Spoilage in SPF is accelerated by i) their large surface to volume ratio; ii) the reliance on fluctuating sun radiation for drying which depends on prevailing weather condition; c) limited drying spaces for large quantities landed.  With regard to magnitude of losses, spoilage-related quality deterioration and nutritional changes in fish are rarely evaluated, hence associated economic value is lacking. The magnitude of losses attributed directly to the spoilage mechanisms have not been determined in freshwater SPFs, yet cost-effective interventions target significant processes. Handling practices, especially stacking and mixing of different fish hauls as drivers of spoilage mechanisms have not also been evaluated.  In addition, the effect of prolonged trips and lack of controlled temperature on-board, are less understood. Therefore, an urgent in-depth assessment of quality and nutritional losses and the associated economic value; the contribution of each spoilage mechanism to the magnitude of losses and the effect of handling practices on the rate of spoilage among freshwater SPFs is needed.


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Natural Sciences

Dr. Perpetra Akite wins British Ecological Society Marsh Award for Ecologists in Africa



Dr. Perpetra Akite, College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), Makerere University.

Dr. Perpetra Akite has been awarded the Marsh Award for Ecologists in Africa.  This prize aims to celebrate the significant scientific achievements of African ecologists and raise their profile in the UK. It is provided by the Marsh Charitable Trust and administered by the British Ecological Society.

Dr. Akite is one of Uganda’s leading entomologists and experts in butterflies. She has made important advances in improving knowledge around insects in Uganda, contributing to assessing and mapping key ecologically sensitive species in the country. She has even had a moth named after her.  

Dr. Akite is also passionate about passing on her knowledge to younger generations and takes part in a great deal of outreach activities at both school and university level. Her goal is to encourage more young people – especially African girls – to begin a career in science.

The winners will be presented with their prizes during a ceremony held at the BES Annual Meeting which runs from 18th – 21st December in Edinburgh. The meeting will bring together over 1000 ecologists (in person and online) to discuss the latest advances in ecological research across the whole discipline.

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Natural Sciences

PESCA Call For Applications: Short Courses Training in Aquaculture



Stakeholders follow proceedings during the Makerere and PESCA-NARO/ARDC Kajjansi workshop held from 19th to 22nd July 2022 at MUZARDI. Researchers met to review and harmonize aquaculture training modules of the EU-supported project.




The Department of Zoology, Entomology, and Fisheries Sciences, College of Natural Sciences, Makerere University was awarded a contract under the European Union-funded PESCA project implemented by Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) for the provision of training services. The overall objective of the assignment is to support training that will improve knowledge, skills, and practices that enhance aquaculture production and productivity in Uganda. This will be achieved through the following specific objectives:

  1. Support the placement of undergraduate students to work (internships) with fish farmers or other suitable aquaculture value chain (AVC) actors;
  2. Conduct inclusive customized short-term training with gender considerations (women, men, youth, people with disabilities) including farmers, Producer Organizations (POs), feed & seed producers, service providers, and other aquaculture stakeholders; and
  3. Support MSc. research and training.

The expected outputs from the short-course trainings are:

  1. Trainees (farmers, Producer Organizations, feed & seed producers, service providers etc.) with job-demanded competency skills & knowledge;
  2. Increased engagement of AVC actors in the training of students & review of university curricula;
  3. Orientation of tertiary Fisheries and aquaculture training institutions’ curricula to practical thematic areas; and
  4. Compendium of different modules compiled and shared with partners.

A certificate of attendance will be issued to trainees who successfully complete the training.


Applications are invited for 180 fully funded bursaries for six (6) trainings covering relevant modules specified in (C) below. Each course is expected to be conducted within seven (7) days jointly with the Aquaculture Research and Development Center (ARDC), Kajjansi, National Fisheries Resources Research Institute (NAFIRRI).


1.Hatchery operators and managersIntroduction to commercial aquaculture; Fish seed production and hatchery management (including fingerling transportation; early stock management in grow-out pond); Fish diseases and health management; Aquaculture business planning and organisation.9th-14th October 2022
2.Fish farmers and farm managersIntroduction to commercial aquaculture; Establishing a commercially viable aquaculture enterprise; Aquaculture business planning and organisation; Aquaculture production systems.23rd-28th October 2022
3. Producer groupsIntroduction to commercial aquaculture; Aquaculture production systems; Fish diseases and health management; Aquaculture business planning and organisation (including group dynamics, resource mobilisation for group self-sustenance; fish marketing skills).6th-11th November 2022
4. Feed producersIntroduction to commercial aquaculture; Fish feeds production; Fish feeding and feed management; Aquaculture business planning and organisation13th-18th November 2022
5. Aquaculture Extension workersIntroduction to commercial aquaculture; Aquaculture production systems, Fish diseases and health management; Aquaculture business planning and organization; Aquaculture Extension workers (including service delivery; aquaculture extension methods and tools).7th November – 2nd December 2022
6. Food and Fish ProcessorsIntroduction to commercial aquaculture; Value addition for farmed fish; Aquaculture business planning and organisation.11th-16th December 2022


Target groupsSelection requirements for admission
Hatchery operators and managersAbility to read and write
Fish farmers and farm managersAbility to read and write
Producer groupsAbility to read, write and presentation of a registration certificate as a CBO or cooperative society
Feed producersAbility to read and write
Aquaculture Extension workersMinimum is a certificate in Fisheries and aquaculture
Food and Fish ProcessorsAbility to read and write


Application form should be electronically filled and submitted here: In addition, a signed recommendation from your District Fisheries Officer or Leader of Producer Organisation should also be sent to the Head of Department (, with a copy to the Team Leader, Dr. Jackson Efitre (, and the short courses Coordinators, Juliet Nattabi Kattabi ( and Rosemary Nalwanga ( by the deadline of 30th September, 2022 at 5:00PM.

The advert is linked below.

Mak_PESCA Short Courses_ZEFs_CoNAS Advert.pdf

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