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ARPPIS-DAAD PhD scholarships for study at icipe – 2022

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The International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), Kenya, in partnership with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) In-Country/In-Region PhD Scholarships Programme and African university partners, invites applications from suitably qualified candidates for PhD scholarships in the African Regional Postgraduate Programme in Insect Sciences (ARPPIS).

The primary objective of the ARPPIS PhD Programme is to prepare young researchers from Africa to be globally competitive in research and development environments within national, regional and international research programmes. At icipe, ARPPIS scholars are provided with excellent research facilities in an interdisciplinary environment within a structured, three-year PhD programme that includes research, training, developing research partnerships, publishing scientific articles, writing  grant proposals, and attending scientific meetings and international conferences. Scholars conduct strategic, innovative research at icipe’s laboratories and field sites located in different agro-ecological zones.

  • Seven ARPPIS PhD projects are available to nationals of sub-Saharan countries: see List of Projects
  • The programme covers all student costs, including travel, living expenses, medical insurance, university fees and all research and training costs.
  • Successful candidates will register with an ARPPIS partner university in Africa after starting the PhD programme at icipe.
  • The PhD programme will commence in September 2022.

Deadline for applications to icipe: 15th December 2021

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Health

Assoc. Prof. Annettee Nakimuli wins US$1M grant for Maternal Health Research

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Associate Professor Annettee Nakimuli, Dean School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences (CHS), Makerere University.

Associate Professor Annettee Nakimuli, Dean – School of Medicine has been awarded US$1M grantfor Maternal Health Research from the Gates Foundation Calestous Juma Science Leadership Fellowship. The five-year grant, entitled “Enhancing prediction of adverse pregnancy outcomes in Africa through partnerships and innovation” will focus on Great Obstetrical Syndromes (GOS), such as pre-eclampsia, preterm birth, stillbirth, intrauterine growth restriction;to help develop context-relevant interventions for prevention and treatment.

This is a major research project because GOS is a major killer in sub-Saharan Africa accounting for 60% of the deaths of mothers. Maternal mortality in Uganda remains high in the region at 336/100,000 live births which is approximately a 14-seater bus of women dying per day.

Dr. Nakimuli, a graduate of Makerere University College of Health Sciences, is an internationally-recognized research leader in maternal health for Africa. Her work can be traced back to 2006 when she was appointed an Assistant Lecturer in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Faculty of Medicine, Makerere University. She then enrolled for PhD in 2009 to investigate how KIR and HLA-C genetic variants contributed to the pre-eclamptic risk in Ugandans which was the first genetic case-control study of pre-eclampsia in indigenous Africans – despite African ancestry being a predisposing factor to pre-eclampsia. She concluded that African women are at greater risk of preeclampsia than other racial groups. Dr. Nakimuli has researched extensively on maternal health, mentored young scientists and supervised manymasters and PhD students.

She will establish a cohort study of 4000 healthy pregnant women at Mulago and Kawempe Hospitals in Kampala, Uganda will be conducted where detailed clinical, biological and demographic information from mothers throughout pregnancy and from their babies at the time of birth will be collected. The study has potential to shed light on determinants, mechanisms and solutions for the excess burden of maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality in SSA and for women with African ancestry elsewhere in the world. This study builds on Dr. Nakimuli’s project where she is investigating predictors of pre-eclampsia in a cohort 1,500 healthy pregnant women; supported by the Future Leaders–African Independent Research (FLAIR) fellowship project funded by the Royal Society through the African Academy of Sciences.

Some of the products from the grant/study include: i) the biobank from this research will provide an important resource for future research studies. ii) build capacity for African scientists to solve problems of the Africa continent other than dependence on foreign experts iii) develop regional partnerships iv) multidisciplinary research where scientists from various areas work together.

Dr. Nakimuli expressed her appreciation for the opportunity given to her by the Gates Foundation to undertake the study as well as the support from colleagues at College of Health Sciences and Makerere University. She also highlighted the work accomplished through partnership with scientists at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Cambridge, U.K headed by Prof. Gordon Smith.

Zaam Ssali is the Principal Communication Officer SoL & MakCHS

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Health

Leveraging Drone Technology in the COVID-19 Rapid Response in Rural Areas of Uganda

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An IDI staff demonstrates how the medical drones will work. Photo credit: UNCDF

The Infectious Diseases Institute at Makerere University, with funding and technical assistance from the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), officially launches a project to pilot the use of medical drone technology in the West Nile districts of Moyo and Adjumani. This project will support surveillance mechanisms, early reporting of any health threats or outbreak indicators within the systems, including rapid response to COVID-19.

Drone technology has the potential to solve several challenges that make the delivery of health care services particularly difficult in the West Nile. With geographical barriers like difficult terrains and very remote areas, drones can solve a piece of the logistical puzzle. They can transport test samples within drastically reduced timelines, kickstarting timely treatments. The project will be using two different drone types; a multi-rotor for short distances, up to 30km, and a fixed-wing drone for longer distances; over 30km.

This research project will assess the efficiency and effectiveness of drone deliveries as a viable solution for Uganda’s health sector. This is done in close collaboration with the health service teams on the ground, to ensure that the drones actually solve part of the puzzle, contributing to the sustainability of this solution.

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Agriculture & Environment

Mak Secures another 10 Hectares in Rupa Sub-County Moroto for Livestock Café

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District Local Government officials, Village and Sub-County leaders and the Research team pose for a group photo after the site handover in Rupa Sub-County, Morot District on 24th October 2021.

By Jane Anyango

Makerere University has secured an additional 10 hectares of land from the pastoralist community in Rupa Sub-County, Moroto District for establishment of a livestock café. The allocated land comes with a valley tank and cattle crush. This was the Drylands Transform project’s second land offer in the Karamoja sub-region following the first in Poron Sub-County, Napak District.

Livestock cafés will be the experimental sites to study forage productivity, establish novel co-learning and knowledge exchange centers and create opportunities for milk and fodder value chains.

The Sub-County and Village officials symbolically hand over the site to the Moroto District team on 24th October 2021.
The Sub-County and Village officials (R) symbolically hand over the site to the Moroto District team (L) on 24th October 2021.

The land was handed over to the project by Moroto District and Rupa Sub-County Technical and Administrative officials and witnessed by clan leaders at Lokapel Village on Sunday 24th October, 2021.

The handover ceremony was attended by the Local Council (LC) V Chairman Mr. Loru Moses, the LCV Woman Councillor Ms. Lochoro Clementina, the LCIII Chairperson Mr. Adipa John Robert Akiki, the Speaker Mr.  Komol Parl Miki and the LCI Chairman Lokapel village Mr. Lotee Nangiro. Also present were the Youth Representative and Clan Elders Mr.  Achok Lopeima and Mr. Eluktoper Ngorok.

The Moroto District team in turn symbolically hands over the site to the Drylands Transform Project Research Team on 24th October 2021.
The Moroto District team (L) in turn symbolically hands over the site to the Drylands Transform Project Research Team (R) on 24th October 2021.

The valley tank and cattle crush within the project site university were also handed over to the research team and supplemented by an alternative site in the event of insecurity during the December –January dry spell.

Speaking at the project site during the inception meeting, the clan leaders led by Mr. Achok Lopeimal said the community accepted to offer the land to the project and expressed willingness to protect and utilize it after the project cycle.

Clan Elder Mr. Achok Lopeimal (C) shows Prof. Denis Mpairwe (R) some of the plant species that need to be conserved by the project.
Clan Elder Mr. Achok Lopeimal (C) shows Prof. Denis Mpairwe (R) some of the plant species that need to be conserved by the project.

The clan leaders also asked the researchers to include the conservation of the indigenous plant species in the livestock cafés. The species identified for conservation include; Ekapelimea (for treatment of cough and chest infections), Ekodoli (for treatment of wounds), Eusugu (a remedy for infections and chest pain), Ekorete (for diarrhea and milk enhancement) and Etoke (used as fruit and remedy for stomachache).

Other species were Ekoke (eaten like groundnut paste), Ekaramuae (fodder), Ebei (food) and Epipa (mixed with soil or water and smeared on the body or sprinkled on enemies for protection). Others are Acacia Seyal a tree species useful for production of gum arabic and bee keeping currently threatened by charcoal burning.

Clan elder Mr. Achok Lopeimal (L) demonstrates the importance of star grass during traditional marriage ceremonies as LC5 Chairman Mr. Loru Moses (R) listens attentively.
Clan elder Mr. Achok Lopeimal (L) demonstrates the importance of star grass during traditional marriage ceremonies as LC5 Chairman Mr. Loru Moses (R) listens attentively.

The locals also want the University to address issues of bush burning and tick control that have led to low productivity of livestock as well as research on an invasive weed for pasture commonly known as Epoo, which when consumed by a lactating cow, makes milk bitter.

The LCIII Chairman Mr. Adupa John Robert Akiki said the community has given 10 hectares of land to the project for the benefit of the Sub-County.

LCIII Chairperson Mr. Adupa John Robert Akiki speaks during the meeting onsite prior to the handover.
LCIII Chairperson Mr. Adupa John Robert Akiki speaks during the meeting onsite prior to the handover.

“We have the tank for watering and the cattle crush for spraying within the land. The land is located in Lokapel village, Moroto District and we are going to demarcate with the councilors and clan leaders present here”, Mr. Adupa said.

Makerere University Drylands Transform Principal investigator Prof. Denis Mpairwe appreciated the Moroto District Local Government leadership for the cooperation and offer of land.

The Research team led by Prof. Denis Mpairwe (2nd L) and LCIII Chairperson Mr. Adupa John Robert Akiki (L) look at a species of shrub used as a remedy for coughs proposed for conservation by livestock café.
The Research team led by Prof. Denis Mpairwe (2nd L) and LCIII Chairperson Mr. Adupa John Robert Akiki (L) look at a species of shrub used as a remedy for coughs proposed for conservation by livestock café.

Prof. Mpairwe said the university was in Moroto and Rupa Sub-County in particular, to ask for land, blessings and commitment by locals to work with the project, adding that all data collection and knowledge sharing will be done by the locals.

He described the additional components of a dam and the spray race at the project site as an added advantage that the project will build upon for tick control and provision of water for livestock.

The Drylands Transform project Principal Investigator (PI) Prof. Denis Mpairwe at the rear end of the cattle crush.
The Drylands Transform project Principal Investigator (PI) Prof. Denis Mpairwe at the rear end of the cattle crush.

Prof. Mpairwe explained that a team of researchers will work with the clan elders and local residents to gather the information on indigenous species for purposes of conservation and also form a component of the livestock café.

He said the project’s target is knowledge sharing, teaching the people on what to do to conserve the land, increase on its productivity, stop degradation, improve human and animal health and in the long run, improve the livelihoods of people.

The cattle crush within the project site will be used for tick control.
The cattle crush within the project site will be used for tick control.

“The livestock café will be  used as a learning site or school to demonstrate how the pastoral communities can utilize the land sustainably  without degrading it  and in this they will understand the dangers associated with bush burning.  We shall also teach and demonstrate how to improve on land productivity and in the long run, improve the livelihoods of the people.

The livestock cafe according to Prof. Mpairwe will look at how to improve all the crops, the pasture and trees in the area and also try to address the challenges of the dryland areas such as water and feed scarcity by showing pastoralists the sustainable ways of conserving water and making hay as future fodder for livestock during the time of plenty.

The valley tank located within the project site.
The valley tank located within the project site.

About Drylands Transform Project

The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences  is leading a multidisciplinary team of researchers from Umea University, Gothenburg University, University of Nairobi, Makerere University, World Agroforestry (ICRAF) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to implement the: “Achieving the SDGs in East African drylands: Pathways and challenges towards  a transformation of landscapes, livestock and livelihoods in the East African drylands (Drylands Transform)” project in the greater Karamoja cluster of Uganda and Kenya

The Karamoja cluster of drylands covers Western Pokot, Kenya, Turkana region, the South Western and Eastern part of Ethiopia, the South Eastern part of South Sudan and the whole Karamoja region of Uganda.

The LCV Chairperson Mr. Longra John Bosco (C) speaks during the onsite meeting.
The LCV Chairperson Mr. Longra John Bosco (C) speaks during the onsite meeting.

Drylands Transform is a five-year project funded by the Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development, Formas, within their call for realizing the global Sustainable Development Goals. It aims to address complex challenges in the East African drylands such as climate change, food insecurity, land and ecosystem degradation and weak institutions.

The field studies will take place in four sites providing variation in livelihood strategies, land management and climate that is, Chepareria (Kenya) and Matany (Uganda) in the south dominated by agro-pastoralist communities as well as Lokiriama-Lorengippi (Kenya) and Rupa (Uganda) in the north dominated by pastoralists.

A native wound-healing species proposed for conservation by the Drylands Transform project in the livestock café.
A native wound-healing species proposed for conservation by the Drylands Transform project in the livestock café.

The project investigates the inter linkages between land health, livestock based livelihoods, human wellbeing and land governance mechanisms in order to contribute to transformative change and sustainable development of the social ecological system in drylands of East Africa. The overall goal is to contribute knowledge for the implementation and achievement of the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), while optimizing synergies and minimizing trade-offs between SDGs, in the East African drylands by developing transformative pathways through policy and practice.

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

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