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Agriculture & Environment

International Symposium on Covid-19 Effects & Responses in Informal Settlements & Commercial Zones of Kampala



Globally, economies and societal sectors have been negatively affected by COVID-19 pandemic and its associated containment measures. In Uganda, lockdowns were put in place especially in Kampala as a way of containing spreader events. Makerere University represented by the Urban Action Lab in the Department of Geography, Geo-Informatics and Climatic Sciences, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), in collaboration with the University of Manchester Global Development Institute and ACTTOGETHER-Uganda undertook a study titled: “Covid-19 Effects, Experiences and Responses in Informal Settlements and Commercial Zones of Kampala-Uganda”. The results of the study were presented by the team members during the International Symposium on Covid-19 Effects, Experiences and Responses in Informal Settlements and Commercial Zones of Kampala-Uganda held on 15th March 2022 at the College of Computing and Information Sciences’ Conference Room. The project was guided by three (3) main objectives including: (1) Understanding how the COVID-19 measures have amplified health, economic, occupational, and social risks, (2) Understanding the impact of lockdown measures with the increasing cases of COVID-19 infections, and (3) Exploring the experiences and consequences of the enforcement of measures in public places, the governance of these measures, the partnerships, and power-related tensions. The study analyzed collaborative coalitions that emerged as a response to handling the COVID-19 crisis in Kampala city.

Participants during the Symposium on the Effects of Covid-19
Participants during the Symposium on the Effects of Covid-19

Issues Arising from the Symposium

1. The COVID-19 pandemic amplified the underlying urban planning and development inadequacies, mainly in the informal sector. It escalated challenges to food systems, WASH services, energy, transport, livelihood, and businesses enterprises, and heightened health risks and exposure to COVID-19. This was  because the majority of the labourforce had to work from home which Increased psychological stress as a result of prolonged shutdowns, partial lockdowns, curfew, and restrictions to specific business establishments. According to Mr. Sseviiri Hakim from ACTTOGETHER, the pandemic negatively impacted Kampala informal settlements – the State measures were inadequate and collective action worked but still lacked.

Covid-19 Symposium effects, experiences and responses from different stakeholders
Covid-19 Symposium effects, experiences and responses from different stakeholders

2. Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ researchers led by Dr. Paul Mukwaya discovered that it was impossible and financially unmanageable to implement comprehensive rescue packages in urban areas during the pandemic. Lockdowns and physical distancing were highly impractical for densely populated settlements and informal enterprises.

3. Kampala City is characterized by a rapidly growing population, with low-income settlements, mixed land uses and limited planning. The industrial sector is estimated at 80% with 60% GDP and the informal sector businesses at 90% with trade at 72%, manufacturing at 23% and services at only 6%. The rate of urbanization in Kampala has outpaced infrastructure investment and expansion capacity with under-serviced Informal settlements characterized by stretched education and healthcare systems. Private sector clinics and drug shops majorly dominate the health domain with the majority of low-income residents’ accessing health services from clinics and drug shops. The level of health services reflected negatively to the COVID-19 response and containment with few public hospitals and health centres providing health services to mostly the low-income earners.

Participants during the symposium on the effects of covid-19 pandemic
Participants during the symposium on the effects of covid-19 pandemic

4. Government has done something as far as curbing the spread of COVID-19 is concerned. However there is need for self-assessment among people in order to stop criticizing the government on what it has done and what it has not done. There is need for Government to establish National food stores for food storage during the pandemic. There is also need for government to revisit allocations in the Parish Development Model (PDM) by programming instead of imposing since parishes are fewer compared to the people.

Participants who took part in the Covid-19 Symposium at Makerere University
Participants who took part in the Covid-19 Symposium at Makerere University

5. In regard to efforts geared towards financial recovery from Covid-19 effects, Mr. Mwanje Nicholas, Kinawataka Zone, urged citizens to opt for financial inclusion especially by saving with Saccos. He encouraged social service pillars aimed at getting data from communities to take care of special interest groups through  mindset change and physiological approach.

6. COVID-19 and its measures have globally affected economies. Mr. Ssevviri Hakim noted that the health, economic and social risks were amplified by COVID-19. “There is need to support community-led Initiatives through enhancing the capacity of existing structures. Communities need to work together as well as learn to acknowledge the contribution of others in the fight against the pandemic.

7. According to Mr. Lubega Idiris, vendors were allowed to sleep in markets during the pandemic but the markets barely had the necessary structures. Mr. Lubega urged Government to facilitate the pro-activeness of local level coalitions through provision of accurate information, resources in form of finance and equipment, building synergies for transformational actions and collaborations

8. Mr. Kasaija Peter, a PhD student in the Department of Geography, Geo-Informatics and Climatic Sciences encouraged the team to put in place an engagement system were researchers can engage with different stakeholders in order to ensure continuous growth of communities even after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Symposium on Covid-19 Effects, Experiences and Responses
Symposium on Covid-19 Effects, Experiences and Responses

Approach and Methods

The project team applied Participatory research approach with mixed methods- (Academia, ACTogether, NSDFU, local administrative structure); Focus group discussions (FGDs), (30 FGDs- informal business enterprises, settlement residents, local leaders, COVID-19 taskforce or team members, transport operators, and social service providers) and Key informant interviews (KIIs)- CSOs, KCCA technocrats and politicians, Document reviews, and Videography.

COVID-19 Trends and Implementation Taskforce  

Participants during the Covid-19 Effects on Informal Settlements and Commercial Zones of Kampala Symposium
Participants during the Covid-19 Effects on Informal Settlements and Commercial Zones of Kampala Symposium

The first COVID-19 case was identified on 21st March 2020 in Uganda. COVID-19 cases went on increasing from 52 cases in April 2020 to 123,742 cases by October 2021 and 98% of these were through local transmissions and only 2% of the cases were imported, with 3,161 deaths registered in the country. The country had two prolonged total lockdowns, with selective lockdowns in the education sector for over 16 months. 24.5% of the population in the central business district was highly vulnerable (shopping malls, transactional offices and transport hubs), with 47.3% moderately vulnerable and 38.2% having the lowest level of vulnerability.

The city and division taskforce against COVID-19 were coordinated by KCCA, with support from the ministry of Health, private sector and several development partners including AMREF and URCS. These enforced the presidential directive, set up divisional rapid response surveillance teams, dedicated 90% of the city’s centres to covid-19 emergencies, provided hand washing and hygiene facilities, built capacity of VHT’s, did community sensitization etc. VHT’s provided first aid, raised awareness and direct links to emergency response services through toll free communication channels. Tracked, reported and facilitated the evacuation of suspected cases.

 COVID-19 Response and Social protection

Government rolled out a food distribution programme in early April 2020 were families were given 6 Kgs of maize flour and 3 Kgs of beans per household. However, 75% to 95% of the residents in their respective settlements received food relief from government. The Food distribution mechanism had Irregularities including: supply of substandard and less nutritious foods to vulnerable populations; High and middle-income households given food relief in contrast to the targeted low-income household; Alienation of opposition supporting households; No accountability to all food kinds donated to the NTF. Government also distributed facemasks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. However the facemasks were of poor quality and of small sizes. Regarding the promise of economic recovery packages through UDB, there were no clarifications on how the informal sector could access such funds. Government also launched a cash transfer initiative during the second wave of the pandemic i.e., (UGX. 100,000 or USD 27.7) but less than 50 households received cash in a parish.

COVID-19 Socio-Economic and Health Impacts  

The pandemic amplified urban inequalities and chronic poverty due to job loss and wage reduction. Livelihoods changed due to increased food and energy prices and closure of Informal businesses. The pandemic also increased the exposure of food selling vendors to the risk of arrest and confiscation of their goods on city streets. There was widespread food insecurity which forced families to reschedule feeding patterns, the quality of food eaten, dietary intake and number of times eaten in a day.

 During the first and second phases of lockdown, there was restriction in public transport. The lockdowns and suspension of public transport services disrupted access to healthcare. The bans on public transport led to the spike in the cost of access to healthcare. This was worsened by the incapability of Uganda’s health services to adequately respond to the crisis with many public hospitals lacking enough equipment.

 Landlords were reluctant to provide toilet-emptying services and female headed households and youths were unable to pay for water and sanitation facilities which increased the rate of open defecation by residents. During the pandemic, there was improved hygienic conditions due to increased adherence to hand washing and hand sanitization.

 Recommendations for addressing future related Pandemics

  1. There is need to harness the local intelligence of communities to address the long-term challenges faced by slum dwellers.
  2. There is also need to coordinate communication, planning, decision-making, and operations across a wide range of stakeholders in cities for future response.
  3. Government should engage: Civic groups, CSOs, local leaders, cultural and religious institutions in case of crisis because they are key in mobilizing and gaining trust in the community and are much trusted by residents than government messaging and policies.
  4. Coordination mechanisms for targeted responses should be put in place and flexibly changed based on prevailing contexts and a full communication cycle should be embraced and implemented.
  5. Strong partnerships are key to unlock the potential benefits of collaboration between these complementary people-centered approaches.
  6. Identifying and supporting community-led solutions for bringing the outbreak under control facilitates people’s active participation in the response.

Agriculture & Environment

CAES Annual Report 2023



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

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Agriculture & Environment

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



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



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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