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Agriculture & Environment

Kabale District Local Government Officials Sensitized on Conservation of Forests & Biodiversity

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By Jane Anyango

Over 50 officials from Kabale District Local Government have been sensitized on the need to protect the environment for sustainable livelihoods and the future generations.

The policy dialogue under the theme, “Forestry and Biodiversity: Addressing the challenges of Forest Degradation and enhancing Environment Management in Uganda”, was organized by the EfD-Mak Centre Uganda on 3rd November, 2021 at White Horse Hotel in Kabale District.

The meeting attracted participants ranging from Government Ministries and Agencies, NGOs, the private sector, politicians, Environmental police, civil society organizations and members of the Academia from Kabale and Makerere University.

The function was officially opened by the Kabale District Chairman (LCV) Nelson Nshangabasheija and also attended by the Vice Chairperson Miria Ankankwasa, the Chief Administrative Officer and Clerk to Council Gordon Manzi.  The function was also graced by the District Forestry Officer Benjamin Ariyo and the Crime Intelligence Officer for Environmental Police Protection Unit Sam Kyomukama.

Seated L-R: Mr. Benjamin Ario, Mr. Sam Kyomukama, Ms. Miria Ankankwasa, Mr. Nelson Nshangabasheija, Prof. Johnny Mugisha, Mr. Gordon Manzi and other officials at the EfD-Mak Policy Dialogue held on 3rd November 2021 in Kabale.
Seated L-R: Mr. Benjamin Ariyo, Mr. Sam Kyomukama, Ms. Miria Ankankwasa, Mr. Nelson Nshangabasheija, Prof. Johnny Mugisha, Mr. Gordon Manzi and other officials at the EfD-Mak Policy Dialogue held on 3rd November 2021 in Kabale.

The Deputy Director EfD-Mak Center Prof. Johnny Mugisha in his submission said that they have been conducting policy dialogues across the country and Kabale is one of the areas requiring awakening in as far as policy management and implementation of environmental issues is concerned.

“Kabale is unique from most of other parts of the country because of its landscape. It is characterized by high population mostly residing on steep slopes which must feed. There has been a compromise between environmental conservation and agricultural production to an extent that because food takes priority number one for a household, most of the environment has been encroached on including the fragile ecosystems.

 The steep slopes result into landslides and flooding in the bottom valleys and therefore, we found it prudent to come to Kabale and interact with different stakeholders including policy makers, district leaders, those practicing conservation of the environment like tree planters, such that we remind them on the benefits of the environment, its conservation and what we gain when we conserve it”, Prof. Mugisha explained.

Prof. Johnny Mugisha addressing participants during the EfD-Mak Policy Dialogue in Kabale.
Prof. Johnny Mugisha addressing participants during the EfD-Mak Policy Dialogue in Kabale.

Climbing beans, brewing waragi and mushrooming soft drinks impacting on the environment

Kabale used to grow the bush beans (short beans) until they became unproductive, research replaced them with high yielding climbing beans. These require a small area to yield highly and because they climb, they need to be staked.

Staking them needs some sticks which come from trees. Every household grows climbing beans but not every household has trees to get sticks from. So careless households who don’t have tree sources go and encroach on other peoples trees and they carelessly cut the branches.

Prof. Mugisha said the forest stand in Kabale district is highly threatened.

“There used to be significant forest cover. The estimation we have from National Forest Authority is that in the1990s, we had about 4.9 hectares of forest cover but after 25 years, by 2015, the forest cover had reduced to about 2.2 hectares indicating a 50% loss of the forest cover. If that trend is not checked, we are likely to have zero forest in some few years to come. The reason everybody must come on board is so that we do the planting, conservation and careful harvesting of the existing trees”, The Deputy Director said.

A section of participants attending the EfD-Mak policy dialogue in Kabale.
A section of participants attending the EfD-Mak policy dialogue in Kabale.

In his opening remarks, the district chairman Nelson Nshangabasheija thanked Makerere University for initiating the program to discuss how the district can protect the natural resources.

“The challenge here is brewing crude waragi and soft drink factories working near lakes and rivers. Our climate used to be very good but now, with these factories, they are damaging our natural resources.  As political heads in the district, we are trying to see how we can work together to protect the natural resources”, Nshangabasheija said.

Nshangabasheija emphasized that the district was planning to relocate the factories from the lake and river side and near wetlands to alternative areas. To regain the beauty of trees and lakes, and to reduce soil erosion, the district he said, is considering coming up with a bye-law compelling the population to plant three or more trees for one tree cut.

The Regional Crime Intelligence Officer for Environmental Police Protection Unit in Kigezi region Sam Kyomukama said among the six districts which make Kigezi region, Kabale is the worst hit in terms environmental degradation. Others are Rubanda, Rukiga, Kanungu, Rukungiri and Kisoro.

A participant contributes to the discussion during the meeting.
A participant contributes to the discussion during the meeting.

“About 90% of the wetlands in Kabale have been depleted and as we talk now, there is no intact wetland in the district. All wetlands were cultivated and are under Irish potatoes. Rivers have been encroached on and people are dumping in soil and, wherever you go to the site for enforcement, they have big people who threaten us. The encroachers are protected by politicians like Members of Parliament and Councilors making it difficult to execute our work”, Kyomukama said.

He said just as was the case in Kabale, forests in other districts were being threatened by deforestation to provide charcoal for cooking as a major fuel source .

Kyomukama also reported that all rivers in Kabale have been encroached on by agricultural activities up to the banks resulting to power blackouts whenever it rains as power has to be switched off to remove the silt from Maziba dam.

Kyomukama decried inadequate support to the unit which hinders effective movement to all districts saying, he currently moves on a motorcycle to carry out enforcement in the six districts.

Sam Kyomukama  Environmental Police Officer contributes to the discussion.
Sam Kyomukama Environmental Police Officer contributes to the discussion.

“In addition there are mushrooming factories of soft drinks including these ones called Babababa, Numi, Entare and they don’t have control. Another problem we have is waragi brewing done in wetlands where they divert rivers to work as coolants.

This is dangerous because they are using molasses and whenever molasses drops on grass, within three days, the grass is dry. These chemicals enter the rivers, rusting Maziba dam and killing mud fish and frogs in the rivers.

We are in touch with the Kabale District Police Commander and any time, we will storm, arrest and arraign culprits in courts of law.” The police officer warned.

Kabale District Forestry Officer Benjamin Ariyo said, the district does not have a gazetted reserve by government due to the recent partition of Rubanda and Rukiga districts where most of the forest reserves of the Mafuga area that covers over 1,500 hectares was taken by Rubanda district.

Kabale District he said, only relies on private  planters and given the nature of  the land tenure system of Kigezi region, most  of them are small holders apart  from a group called Uganda Agroforestry Network having over 150 hectares in Makanga area and  all covered with pinuspatular trees that are due for harvest.

District Forestry Officer Benjamin Ario speaks during the meeting.
District Forestry Officer Benjamin Ariyo speaks during the meeting.

As far as biodiversity is concerned, the forest officer said, the district has species richness in wetland complexes of Bunyonyi as well as North and South Kiruma, with over 312 species of birds like the grey crested crane that is being conserved by nature Uganda in collaboration with the Crane Foundation.

Ariyo explained that Kabale district has a record of over 149 plant richness species both indigenous and exotic, woody and non woody, stating that due to population explosion,infrastructural development and weak policies regarding to wetland use,  the biodiversity and forestry recovery in the  area has been greatly affected.

The forestry officer reiterated the challenge of getting a winning solution between wetland users and politicians, saying that most of them encourage people to remain in wetlands yet people were experiencing variations in climate conditions of the area.

“Initially during the month of June to August, you would enter Kabale and feel a different breeze but now we are uncertain, we don’t know when the rains are coming,when the sun is to shine, there are lots of changes in rain seasons, the dry spell goes up to April yet April and September used to be rainy seasons”, He said.

Ariyo underscored the need to restore forestry and vegetation cover within the district noting that due to population explosion, people are using resources unsustainably.

Climbing beans on stakes in one of the gardens.
Climbing beans on stakes in one of the gardens.

“For instance, there is a tree called black wattle, a hard wood tree that takes up to 35 years to mature, yet good for charcoal and firewood but due to its propagation means, it is hard to get it and its seedlings because it is being threatened.

There are mammals that are getting extinct especially the swampy rats. Those ones are already on the red list of the endangered species but it is all attributed to uncontrolled human activities within the district related to unsustainable resource use,” Ariyo stated.

The forest officer reported that although climbing beans are the only performing bean varieties within the district, they are the biggest problem to forest conservation.

He explained that for someone to produce beans, they need climbing sticks and they tend to use young eucalyptus sprouts, indigenous shrubs and small trees. These take a short time like three months yet collected sticks cannot work for three seasons because of being exposed to termites.

“You find that they are cutting down trees for two seasons per year leading to quick vegetation loss. If different varieties of beans can be developed by agriculturalists, we shall be able to conserve our trees. Agriculture does not only take away the trees, it also uses a lot of fertilizers and sprays chemicals which kill bees as pollinators. Someone who has been harvesting 100 avocados from his tree, is now harvesting 20-30 because of poor pollinators.”

Jane Anyango is a Principal Communication Officer at Makerere University

Agriculture & Environment

CAES Annual Report 2023

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Cover page of the CAES Annual Report 2023. Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga
Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga

With utmost delight, I am honoured to present the Annual Report of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) for the year 2023. As we look back on the accomplishments and obstacles of the past year, I extend my deepest appreciation to each and every one of you who contributed to our collective achievements. It has truly been a year of fulfilment and progress. In 2023, CAES proudly celebrated the graduation of 592 students, of whom 48% were female, at the 74th Graduation Ceremony. Among them were 14 PhD, 94 MSc, 5 Post Graduate Diplomas, and 479 BSc graduates across various disciplines in agricultural and environmental sciences. My sincere congratulations to all the graduates and the dedicated staff who supported them throughout their journey.

Reflecting on the commitments made in 2022 for the year 2023, we have made substantial strides. I am pleased to report that our faculty and students successfully adapted to the blended mode of teaching and learning. We remain steadfast in our dedication to a learner-centered, practical-oriented, and gender-responsive approach, with the goal of nurturing skilled, entrepreneurial, and innovative graduates capable of addressing challenges in the Agricultural and Environmental sectors.

Furthermore, we have revised the curriculum for approximately 15 programs, enriching content to include skills relevant to entrepreneurial green economies. This underscores our commitment to fostering innovation within CAES and equipping our graduates with the tools they need to thrive in dynamic professional landscapes.

Moreover, our college continues to advance knowledge, tackle critical challenges, and make a positive impact on society. Notably, the Makerere University Regional Centre of Excellence for Crop Improvement (MaRCCI) has been elevated to an “African Host Centre (AHU/C) for training high-quality PhDs in Plant Breeding and Biotechnology.” This initiative aims to address the human resource gap in highly qualified specialists in these fields across Africa, reaffirming our commitment to excellence and leadership in agricultural education and research. For the reporting year, CAES has registered several achievements as highlighted.

Teaching and Learning for improving learner experiences

The introduction and implementation of the CAES-GRADCARE Management System represents a significant milestone in our efforts to enhance graduate management processes within the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. This innovative system was meticulously crafted to streamline operations, optimize workflow, and elevate overall efficiency and effectiveness. Its primary objectives include improving supervision mechanisms, reducing lead times, and minimizing costs associated with thesis examination. Moreover, the system empowers stakeholders with invaluable data insights, facilitating informed decision-making across various levels of academic administration.

Research and Innovation for impacting society

In our relentless pursuit of ethical research practices, we are proud to announce the establishment and full operationalization of the CAES Research Ethics Committee/Institutional Review Board (CAES-REC/IRB). This critical initiative underscores our commitment to upholding the highest standards of integrity and transparency in our research endeavors. Our dedication to innovation is exemplified by the introduction of the MakSol Cooker—a solar-powered marvel poised to revolutionize cooking practices while significantly reducing carbon footprints within households. This transformative solution not only addresses environmental concerns but also promotes sustainable living on a tangible, everyday level. Furthermore, our research efforts have yielded remarkable breakthroughs in agriculture and food security. Through the development of bio-fertilizer formulations, we aim to unlock crop productivity while simultaneously addressing soil nitrogen deficiencies, thereby enhancing household food security and bolstering agricultural sustainability. In tandem with our agricultural innovations, we have successfully bred resilient Mak Soybean, Cowpea and Sorghum varieties, capable of withstanding drought, disease, pests, and climate stress while boasting shortened maturity periods. These advancements provide a vital protein source, particularly in regions prone to agricultural challenges, and enable the production of value-added products, contributing to enhanced food security and resilience, further enhancing the agricultural value chain. In our quest for sustainable agricultural practices, we have developed innovative solutions such as the Soil Test Kit, facilitating simplified soil management by offering rapid semi-quantitative evaluations of essential elements crucial for optimal plant growth. This tool empowers farmers with actionable insights to optimize crop yields and promote sustainable land stewardship. Additionally, our Hybrid Refractance Window Drying equipment represents a game-changer in post-harvest handling, ensuring consistent drying of perishable agricultural produce. By preserving the quality of fruits and vegetables, this technology enhances the value chain, thereby maximizing agricultural productivity and reducing post-harvest losses. Furthermore, our efforts extend beyond crops to encompass livestock management and nutrition. Through the development of protocols for Banana Tissue Culture and value addition to Sweet Potato-Sorghum enterprises, we aim to improve agricultural livelihoods and economic resilience among farming communities. Innovative solutions such as rearing and utilizing blue flies, maggots, and earthworms as alternative protein sources for poultry and fish feeds demonstrate our commitment to sustainable feed production. These efforts not only diversify protein sources but also promote circular economies by utilizing agricultural by-products effectively. Moreover, our research endeavors have yielded transformative solutions to combat malnutrition and poverty. The development of a livestock milk booster, derived from sugarcane industrial waste, addresses nutritional deficiencies while enhancing dairy production, thereby improving livelihoods and food security. Our commitment to research and innovation for societal impact is unwavering. From ground-breaking agricultural technologies to transformative solutions for nutrition and food safety, we remain dedicated to advancing sustainable development and improving livelihoods across communities. Through collaborative efforts and relentless innovation, we strive to create a brighter, more resilient future for all.

Knowledge transfer and Community engagement

This 2023 Annual Report highlights several impactful knowledge sharing initiatives undertaken by CAES: i) NARO-Makerere Third Joint Scientific Conference, ii) Summer School on Landscape Ecology, iii) International Collaboration in Soybean Research, iv) Policy Dialogue on Climate Science, v) Recognition at the 29th Source of the Nile National Agricultural Show, vi) Youth and Innovation Expo 2023, vii) Training Programs for Capacity Building, viii) Capacity Building in Seed and Agronomic Practices, and ix) Soybean Seed Distribution. These initiatives underscore CAES’ commitment to knowledge transfer, community engagement, and sustainable agricultural development, reflecting our dedication to fostering innovation and driving positive change in Uganda and beyond. The accomplishments detailed in this report are a testament to the unwavering dedication and collaborative efforts of our esteemed staff, students, and partners.

Throughout this reporting year, we have witnessed remarkable growth and achievement among our faculty members, with several individuals being promoted and duly recognized for their outstanding contributions.

Looking ahead, we are presented with a multitude of opportunities to further our impact and achieve even greater heights of excellence. As we embark on the next chapter of our journey, we remain steadfast in our commitment to academic excellence, research, innovation, and societal impact. In the coming year, we will continue to focus on strengthening our academic programs, fostering interdisciplinary and multi-stakeholder collaboration, and expanding our innovative research initiatives to address pressing challenges in agriculture, environmental sustainability, and food security. We will also prioritize initiatives aimed at enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusion within our college community, ensuring that all voices are heard and valued. As we navigate the path ahead, I am confident that together, we will overcome any challenges that may arise and continue to make significant contributions to the advancement of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. As Winston Churchill stated, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts”.

I invite you to explore the pages of this Annual Report to learn more about our achievements, challenges, and aspirations for the future.

Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga
PRINCIPAL, CAES

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Agriculture & Environment

The Joint ClimSMART-NORHED II CSA Summer School Second Edition 2024 Kicks Off at Mak

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Participants of the joint CSA-ClimSMART Summer School at Makerere University’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES). Inauguration of the 2024 edition of the ClimSMART-NORHEDII CSA Summer School funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and the Norwegian Research Council, kick off theory sessions from May 27th to 28th, 2024, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

By Brian Ogenrwoth

Makerere University, in collaboration with Gulu University, has inaugurated the 2024 edition of the ClimSMART-NORHEDII CSA Summer School. Funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and the Norwegian Research Council, the program began with a series of theory sessions from May 27th to 28th, 2024. This year’s event has drawn 23 postgraduate students (MSc and PhDs) from 7 countries studying at 5 African universities namely; Makerere University, Gulu University, University of Zambia, Hawassa University and University of Juba, and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU). Additionally, 16 scientists and three postdoctoral researchers from the participating institutions have joined the initiative.

CAES Principal, Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga addressing the participants. Inauguration of the 2024 edition of the ClimSMART-NORHEDII CSA Summer School funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and the Norwegian Research Council, kick off theory sessions from May 27th to 28th, 2024, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
CAES Principal, Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga addressing the participants.

Prof. Jackline Bonabana, the Principal Investigator of the ClimSMART project and Co-Principal Investigator of the NORHED II CSA project who coordinated the Summer School, emphasized the comprehensive and multifaceted nature of the program. She highlighted that the sessions would cover critical topics in climate-smart agriculture, biochar, climate change, and food security. Prof. Samuel Kyamanywa, the Principal Investigator of the NORHED II CSA project, applauded the collaborative efforts of the Climsmart/NORHED II partners and delivered an engaging presentation on insect pests and their management in the context of climate change.

Prof. Jan Mulder of NMBU delivering a presentation on food security in Sub-Saharan Africa. Inauguration of the 2024 edition of the ClimSMART-NORHEDII CSA Summer School funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and the Norwegian Research Council, kick off theory sessions from May 27th to 28th, 2024, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Prof. Jan Mulder of NMBU delivering a presentation on food security in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Prof. Vegard Martinsen from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) underscored the vast research opportunities in climate-smart agriculture on the African continent. He noted the region’s unique context and the increasing impact of climate change as pivotal factors for continued need for meaningful research and empirical evidence.

Participants and scientists listening to presentation on site assessment and sampling for agriculture. Inauguration of the 2024 edition of the ClimSMART-NORHEDII CSA Summer School funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and the Norwegian Research Council, kick off theory sessions from May 27th to 28th, 2024, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Participants and scientists listening to presentation on site assessment and sampling for agriculture.

Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga, Principal of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) at Makerere University, presented on critical thinking and officially welcomed participants, stressing the urgent need to upscale such collaborative efforts to tackle food insecurity and climate change. She affirmed that such programmes align to the Makerere University agenda and strategic direction.

Participants at MUARIK. Inauguration of the 2024 edition of the ClimSMART-NORHEDII CSA Summer School funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and the Norwegian Research Council, kick off theory sessions from May 27th to 28th, 2024, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Participants at MUARIK.

The sessions also featured a variety of expert presentations, including:

  • Food Security in SSA by Prof. Jan Mulder (Norwegian University of Life Sciences)
  • Site Assessment and Sampling for Agriculture by Prof. Lydia Chabala (University of Zambia)
  • Aqua Crop Model for Land Management by Prof. Elijah Phiri (University of Zambia)
  • Understanding Basic Concepts in Soil Fertility by Dr. Patrick Musinguzi and Prof. Twaha Basamba Ali (Makerere University)
  • Weed Management by Dr. Sylvester Katuromunda (Makerere University)
  • Co-Composting Organic Wastes with Biochar by Prof. Fantaw Yimer (Hawassa University)
  • Socio-Economic Topics like personal branding and marketing by Prof. Basil Mugonola and Dr. Walter Odongo, climate resilience governance and management practice by Dr. Patrick Byakagaba (Makerere University), and communication and presentation skills by Mr. Edward Gita (Rural Enterprise Development Solutions). Very insightful presentations were made by the Post Doc and PhD students as well.

The practical sessions, scheduled from May 29th to June 9th, 2024, will include farmer field visits, laboratory sessions, group discussions, data analysis, and presentations at Gulu University.

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Agriculture & Environment

Eco Brixs Seeks to Collaborate with Mak in Plastics Waste Management

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The CEO of Eco Brixs, Mr. Andrew Bownds (2nd R) with the Makerere University team led by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe (3rd R) after the meeting on 8th May 2024. Rotary Peace Centre, Frank Kalimuzo Central Teaching Facility, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

Poor waste disposal remains one of the biggest challenges in Uganda pausing a number of environmental and health risks. According to the Ministry of Water and Environment, plastic waste is becoming disastrous to urban and rural areas due to poor disposal practices. All store purchases are packaged in polythene bags, and without proper disposal, plastic garbage can be seen everywhere. During the rainy season, they are washed into water channels, where they block drainage. Single-use packaging for soda, water, and other drinks results in mountains of garbage heaping up in legal and illegal dumpsites – The Independent Magazine, 30th May 2022.


As a measure to improve plastics waste management in the country, Eco Brixs has reached out to Makerere University to collaborate in addressing the challenge. On 8th May 2024, the CEO, also Co-Founder of Eco Brixs, Mr. Andrew Bownds held a meeting with Makerere University officials led by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe in which they brainstormed on different areas for collaboration.

Proposed areas for collaboration

  1. Research, Eco Brixs seeks to collaborate with Makerere University in Product Testing. Eco Brixs is producing new products monthly and requires lab tests to support UNBS certification. The Company also seeks to collaborate with Makerere in Environmental Research. The Company intends to work with PhD students to complete focused research on plastic pollution and the recycling process.
  2. Internships – Eco Brixs has had 50 students complete internships and would love to grow that with Makerere.
  3. Be Makerere Official Recyclers – Eco Brixs seeks to be the recycler of Makerere University. Suggestions were made to jointly source funding to address the challenge and to set up a plastic waste collection centre at Makerere University.

During the meeting, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe welcomed the initiative and reiterated the need to include students on projects to ensure sustainability. The meeting was attended by among others the Principal, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga; the Dean, School of Forestry, Environmental and Geographical Sciences, Dr Revocatus Twinomuhangi; and the Manager in charge of Accounts and Reporting at Makerere University, Mr Lubowa Ssebina Gyaviira.

About Eco Brixs

Eco Brixs is a plastic recycling enterprise which uses a sustainable circular economic model to address the challenges of plastic waste and high unemployment levels in Uganda. Eco Brixs collects, recycles, and processes plastic waste into Eco Products for a ready market. Addressing plastic pollution and lifting people out of abject poverty through sustainable employment is one of the core roles of Eco Brixs. Operating since 2017, Eco Brixs has a plastic waste collection network that has seen 3,000 people delivering plastic into one of the enterprise’s 44 Buy-Back centres and engaging in earning through the recycling economy. Eco Brixs model is replicable and scalable to achieve its vision of being the Biggest Recycler in East Africa with franchises across the developing world. Eco Brixs is focused on driving green job creation through sustainable conservation.

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