In a bid to align its programmes to the national and global development agenda, the Department of Geography, Geo-informatics and Climatic Sciences, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), Makerere University conducts periodical reviews in consultation with different stakeholders.
The Department is currently reviewing five programmes namely: Master of Land Use and Regional Development Planning, MSc Disaster Risk Management, Master of Geographical Sciences, Bachelor of Geographical Sciences, and BSc Meteorology.
Besides aligning the programmes to the national and global development agenda, the review processes is intended to improve marketability and innovativeness of the programmes, address industry needs and contemporary challenges, improve practical training and interdisciplinarity, and to strengthen analytical skills amongst students.
Since 2017, the department has been engaging different stakeholders including individual staff members, students, alumni and industry actors who have provided enriching contributions. The reviewed programmes will be rolled out in the Academic Year 2023/2024.
To further enrich the programmes, the Department held a two-day stakeholder engagement to receive feedback on the proposed amendments. The activity held on 3rd-4th August 2022 at the School of Forestry, Environmental and Geographical Sciences and coordinated by the Head of Department, Prof. Frank Mugagga and Dr Paul Mukwaya was attended by academics from Makerere University College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT); College of Education and External Studies (CEES); College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS); and the College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS). It was also attended by representatives from Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA); Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development; National Planning Authority;and USAID.
1. MSc Disaster Risk Management
The overall objective of the programme is to build national and regional human capacities in reducing risk to disasters and accelerating human security and economic development.
- Develop multi-skilled and dynamic professionals with knowledge and novel techniques to assess disaster risks and implement timely measures to efficiently manage disasters
- Impart interdisciplinary research skills for generation of information and knowledge for disaster risk management
- Increase local and regional capacities for anticipation, prediction and management of disaster events
Under the programme, a number of courses are offered including; Principles of Disaster Risk Management, Risk and Vulnerability Analysis, Introduction to Geo-Information Science, Natural hazards Assessment, Legal Frameworks for Disaster Risk Management, Population and Displacement, Extreme Weather Events, Research Methods and Applied Statistics, Disaster Preparedness and Mitigation, Field Exposure and Project Reporting, Earth Observation Techniques for Disaster Risk Management, Economics of Hazards and Disasters, Public Health in Emergencies and Humanitarian Assistance, and Urban Risk Management.
Summary of modifications
All courses have been aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). At the stakeholders’ engagement, proposals were made to include issues of disaster communication & response, resilience, insurance, multi-hazard analysis and climate change. The revised programme will equip students with interdisciplinary research skills to effectively deal with various disasters.
2. Master of Geographical Sciences
The programme aims to build a sought-after human resource pool of graduates with geographical skills and knowledge to address contemporary and emerging issues across scales. It also aims to advance the understanding of Geographical Sciences for graduate students from diverse disciplines, to build capacity in geographic research and information management, and to impart knowledge on the integrating nature of geography for multidisciplinary response to complexities of the world.
The Department offers a wide-range of courses under the programme. These include: Geographical Thought and Applications, Geographical Information Science and Technology, Remote Sensing and Earth Observations, Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation, Natural Resource Modelling and Management, Applied Economic Geography, Geo-Politics and Development, Soil Conservation and Management, Coastal and lacustrine Geomorphology, Research Methods and Applied Statistics, Land Evaluation and Land Use Planning, Impact Assessment and Auditing, Settlement Analysis and Planning, Population Analysis and Development, Applied Agro-Climatology, Fluvial Geomorphology, Vulnerability and Resilience Analysis and Qualitative Methods in Geography.
Summary of modifications
The review process aimed to strengthen students’ analytical skills, linkages between theory & practice, and interdisciplinary as well as transdisciplinary focuses. Most of the aforementioned courses remain intact with a few adjustments to improve the content.Proposals have been made to drop the course in Applied Agro-Climatology, merge Coastal and lacustrine Geomorphology (GEO7123) with Fluvial Geomorphology, and to make Vulnerability and Resilience Analysis and Qualitative Methods in Geography new elective courses.
3. Master of Land Use and Regional Development Planning
The programme focuses on how public and/or private land and associated resources can be preserved, developed, and used for maximum social, economic, and environmental benefit. A number of courses are offered in the fields of natural resources management, natural resource economics, public policy, regional and land use planning, environmental impact assessment, applicable law and regulations, government and politics, principles of business and real estate land use, statistical and analytical tools, computer applications, mapping and report preparation, site analysis, cost analysis, and communications skills.
Summary of modifications
Proposals have been made to rename Principles of Disaster Risk Management – Disaster Risk Management and Assessment, and to drop Natural Hazards Assessment, but incorporate its content into Disaster Risk Management and Assessment. Other proposals include; i) renaming Legal Frameworks for Disaster Risk Management – Disaster Law and Policy; ii) Extreme Weather events – Weather Information and Early Warning and incorporate content from Climate Risks and Disasters; iii) Disaster Preparedness and Mitigation course content updated to include aspects of early actions and forecast; iv) renaming Rural Development – Local Planning Economic Development: Theory and Practice; v) Elements of risk management incorporated into Spatial Decision Support Systems; vi) the field course Regional Ecological Planning Studio combined with Integrated Urban Planning and renamed Land Use and Regional Planning Practice; vii) Strategic Environmental Planning and Management strengthened to reflect trends in environmental assessment and monitoring; and viii) Applied Spatial Statistics & Modelling for Planning proposed to become a school-wide course. The new courses include; Qualitative Data Analysis; Advanced Urban Systems Theory; Advances in Regional Science: Principles and Methods; Planning Ethics and Spatial Justice; Planning Law and Governance of Urban and Regional Dynamics or Regional Development Policy Issues and Analysis; Resilience, vulnerability and Regional Development; Inclusive Growth and Development; Infrastructure Geographies; and Critical Perspectives in Agrarian Change.
4. Bachelor of Geographical Sciences
This is a three-year Day programme started in the Academic Year 2017/2018 with three students. Intake has grown over time to an average of 30-40 students. The programme admits both A Level and Diploma students. A Level Geography is essential for direct entry.
Objectives of the Programme
The main objective of the reviewed programme is to produce geographers who are knowledgeable and practically skilled in geographical and earth systems sciences, can promote earth stewardship and contribute to sustainable development.
- Develop competent geographers that have the basic and novel yet transferable knowledge, skills and technologies in geography and earth systems
- Produce competent geographers with knowledge and understanding of the earth’s resource potentials and limits in a geographic context
- Build geographers that have the breadth and depth of knowledge on earth system dynamics and changes
- Train geographers to initiate, plan and execute inquiry and research in topical geographic fields and earth systems sciences
- Develop geographers that have the skills and knowledge in and pathways to attainment of sustainable development
- Train geographers that are adequately prepared to respond to the changing global environmental, and social systems under scarce natural resources
Year 1 – Human Geography, Fundamentals of statistics, Principles of Earth Systems Science, Introduction to Soil Science, Communication Skills, Development Geography of East Africa, Sustainability Science and Development, Fundamentals of Ecosystem Science, Foundations of Cartography and Photogrammetry, and Urbanization and the Environment.
Year 2 – Geomorphology, Applied Cartography and Photogrammetry, Earth Observation Systems, Techniques and Applications, Global Environmental Change, Population Geography, Agriculture, Environment and Development, Risk Assessment and Management, Soil Conservation: Methods and Applications, Fundamentals of hydrology, Sustainable Energy Transitions, Research Methods, Climatology, Advanced Quantitative Techniques in Geography, Principles of Geographical Information Systems (GIS),Economic Geography, Settlement Systems Analysis, Project planning and Management, Development Geography of Africa, Biogeography, Principles of Resource Assessment, Development and Management, Lacustrine and riverine Landscape Management, Arid and Semi – Arid Land Management.
Year 3 – Geographical Thought and Philosophy or Geographical Thought and Practice, Advanced Climatology, Geo-Statistics and Modeling, Advanced Geographical Information Systems (GIS), Demography, Political Geography, Military Geography, Geography and Public Policy Analysis, Highland and Mountain Resource Management, Applied Hydrology / Advanced Hydrology, Land Use Planning and Management, Environmental Degradation and Conservation, Systematic Geography of Uganda, Advanced Geomorphology, Applied Earth Observations Systems Techniques and Applications, Research Project and Dissertation, Urban Geography, Transport Geography, Regional Development Planning, Regional Development Geography of East and South East Asia, Road Safety: Theory and Applications, Environmental Disaster Assessment, and Adaptation and Mitigation to Climate Change.
i)Human Geography course has been updated to include human environment interactions and implication ii) Introductory Statistics changed to Fundamentals of Statistics, iii) Principles of Earth Systems Science revised to provide foundation for climatology, biogeography, hydrology and geomorphology, iv) Communication skills introduced, v) Atmospheric Processes, Weather and Climate no longer mandatory for BGS students but for other students in the school, vi) Development Geography of East Africa revised to include aspects on constraints to development and possible solutions, vii) Fundamentals of Ecosystem Science revised to integrate issues of Natural selection and adaptation by plants and animals, as well as restoration ecology, viii) Global Environment Change reviewed to integrate issues of land use and cover change dynamics, biodiversity and environmental change assessment, ix) Energy Analysis and Planning changed to Sustainable Energy Transitions, x) Feminism and Geography dropped, xi) Fundamentals of Hydrology introduced, xii) Lacustrine and Riverine Landscape Management course focusing on lake and river systems resource utilization and management introduced, xiii) Project Planning and Management introduced, xiv) Highland and Mountain Resources Management changed to Mountain Sustainable Resource Management, xv) Applied Hydrology and Environmental Degradation and Conservation introduced, xvi) Tourism and Recreation Resource Management as well as Regional Development Geography of Europe and Asia and Wildlife Ecology and Management dropped, xvii) Regional Development Geography of East and South East Asia introduced.
5. BSc Meteorology
This is a three-year Day programme that started in the Academic Year 2011/2012 with 4 students.Intake has been growing over time with an average of 25-35 admitted. The programme admits both A Level and Diploma students. A Level pure mathematics is essential for direct entry.
Summary of proposed courses
Year 1 – Introduction to Atmospheric Science, Meteorological Instruments and Observation Methods, Differential and Integral calculus, Classical Mechanics, Introduction to computing in meteorology, Communication Skills, Thermodynamics, Matrix Algebra and Vector analysis, Tropical Meteorology, Computer programming in Meteorology, Numerical Methods in Meteorology, and Introduction to gender.
Year 2 – Synoptic Meteorology,Advanced Atmospheric Science, Atmospheric Dynamics, Cloud Physics, Biometeorology, Soil Science and Management, Physical Meteorology, Foundations of climate change science, Weather Analysis and Forecasting, Research Methods, Principles of Geographical Information systems, Renewable energy resources, Marine Meteorology, and Data Information Management in Meteorology.
Year 3 –Remote Sensing in Meteorology, Boundary layer Meteorology, Hydrometeorology, Agro-meteorology, Advanced GIS, Meteorology and Human Environment, Urban Climatology, Elements of Environmental Pollution and Control, Aviation Meteorology, Adaptation and mitigation to Climate Change, Research Project, Societal Climate services, and Integrated Water resource management.
Participants proposed to include climate change and communication skills in all programmes.
The stakeholder engagement was graced by the Deputy Principal, CAES, Prof. Yazidhi Bamutaze who emphasized the need to reflect on the relevance of all programmes offered as the University marks 100 years of existence. The workshop was attended by among others, the Principal, College of Computing and Information Sciences, Makerere University, Prof. Tonny Oyana.
Mak Trains over 550 Technical & Extension Workers under DINU
On 27th January 2023, The Academic Registrar, Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi represented the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe at the closing ceremony of the training of technical staff of local governments under the Development Initiative for Northern Uganda (DINU) program. The training was conducted by a joint team from the Colleges of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), Natural Sciences (CoNAS), Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Bio-security (CoVAB), Makerere University Business School (MUBS) and the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO).
DINU is a Government of Uganda programme supported by a grant of 150 million Euros from the European Union (EU) and supervised by Office of the Prime Minister (OPM). It is a multi-sectoral programme aimed at improving livelihoods in 41 districts in the five sub-regions of Acholi, Karamoja, Lango, Teso and West Nile for a duration of six years (2017-2023).
Over 550 technical and extension workers have received training in the field of integrated pest and disease management, climate smart agriculture, apiculture, post harvest handling, integrated soil fertility management, marketing, agribusiness and financial management.
The Minister of Karamoja Affairs, Hon. Dr. Mary Goretti Kitutu was the Guest of Honour at the closing ceremony held at the Continuing Agricultural Education Centre (CAEC) of the Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute Kabanyolo (MUARIK).
The ceremony was attended by Head of the EU delegation Ambassador Jan Sadek, Minister of State for Agriculture, Permanent Secretary OPM, and over 30 Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs). DINU will continue to partner with CAES to enhance knowledge, skills and practice in line with the Parish Development Model (PDM), which is aimed at serving as an engine for socio-economic transformation.
Mak Hosts 2nd African Conference on Precision Agriculture (AfCPA) 2022
Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) represented by Dr. Patrick Musinguzi, a Lecturer in the Department of Agricultural Production, hosted a satellite event of the 2nd African Conference on Precision Agriculture (AfCPA) from 7th to 9th December 2022, at Protea Hotel in Kampala, Uganda. AfCPA is a biennial event and an initiative of the African Plant Nutrition Institute (APNI) in partnership with Muhammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P), the International Society of Precision Agriculture (ISPA), and the African Association for Precision Agriculture (AAPA). The satellite event offered an opportunity for the local presenters and stakeholders to participate in the main conference held in Nairobi, Kenya, on issues of precision agriculture as a novel management approach for optimizing soil/crop health and productivity. The mission of AfCPA is to build a forum dedicated to “connecting the science and practice needed to put precision agriculture in action for Africa.”
The conference was sponsored by OCP Africa, Global Phosphorous Institute, 4R Solution Global Affairs Canada, Digital Agriculture Convergence Laboratory, and Investiv. The conference aimed at strengthening and supporting the precision agriculture community within the African context. The conference engaged stakeholders including scientists, policy makers, extension staff, crop consultants and advisors, agronomists and service providers towards a common goal of building the capacity and resilience of African cropping systems.
AfCPA partner organizations that served as national satellite site hosts included:
- National Polytechnic Institute Félix Houphouët-Boigny (INP-HB), Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
- National Authority for Remote Sensing & Space Sciences (NARSS), Cairo, Egypt
- Ethiopia Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
- CSIR-Savanna Agriculture Research Institute, Tamale, Ghana
- Nassarawa State University, Keffi, Nigeria
- University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
- Advanced School of Agronomy/University of Lomé (ESA-UL), Lomé, Togo
- National Institute of Agronomic Research of Tunisia (INRAT), Tunis, Tunisia
- College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda
- Plant Production Sciences and Technologies, University of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe
Strategies to promote rapid adoption of precision agriculture
Education: Schools especially higher institutions of learning like universities should develop programmes and expand curricula to spur digital innovation and skills development of precision agriculture technologies and techniques.
Youth inclusion programmes: Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) should focus on youth inclusion and create programmes targeted towards the youth to educate, train and challenge them to engage in precision agriculture advancement.
Strengthening collaborations and knowledge sharing: Local organizations and international bodies should develop partnerships that ensure cross-fertilization of knowledge, ideas, and technologies in precision agriculture, with youth in the picture.
Research engagement: The youth are the powerhouse of innovative ideas and they posses the stamina needed in research that would advance precision agriculture. Research programmes must be developed to target and leverage the strength of the youth in Africa.
Policy Development: Government at all levels must develop policies and regulations that favour the advancement of precision agriculture in Africa, while encouraging the youth to lead with technology development and start innovations that promote precision agriculture.
Finance towards research and youth-led AgTech startup/SMEs: Precision agriculture product development especially in the African local context requires generous funding to prototype. Therefore funding is critically important to cause significant progress and to speed up precision agriculture in Africa.
Community engagement: The concept of precision agriculture comes with ideologies and it is vital to use the power of community engagement to bring about ideological change for rapid adoption of precision agriculture in Africa. The youth are valuable agency to deliver this change. When the youth accept precision agriculture, they easily influence the narrative its favour.
In her remarks, Dr. Mildred Ochwo, Head department of Agricultural Production, CAES said strengthening Networks would greatly boost precision agriculture in Africa.
The Deputy Principal of CAES, Prof. Yazidhi Bamutaze cited the need to embrace and optimize emerging technologies intended improve agricultural productivity. Prof. Bamutaze aslo noted the need for Uganda’s commitment to collecting quality data. “We need to redirect our efforts to data collection consistently in a clean way for science to work. With poor quality data you can not run simulations or models, and targeted interventions. We all have to work together towards this,” he said. According to Prof. Bamutaze, Uganda as a country is increasingly appreciating technology, and with leadership, we can work together, setup trials to ensure that what we are doing goes to the next level.
Prof. Bamutaze noted that the College was keen to work with partners, through student-staff mobilities. Prof. Bamutaze appealed to government for funding in order to produce competent students. “We can’t develop the country without good capital base, which requires resources,” he said.
According to Mr. Fred Kabango, Commissioner, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, the ministry has undertaken many initiatives like climate smart agriculture, geared towards addressing the effects of climate change. Mr. Kabango called for adoption of precision agriculture as a measure to improve productivity. In achieving NDP Goal 3, on industrialization, were, one of the pillars is to increase production and productivity, Mr. Kabango emphasized the need to look at agriculture as business, and to retool farmers with the best agricultural practices.
Mr. Paul Senyange, Project Manager E-services, National Information Technology Authority, Uganda (NITA-U) presented an assessment of how the Authority can support the implementation of precision agriculture through Agriculture technology initiatives discussed in the conference. Mr. Senyange presented a number of ideas on how NITAU can support the initiative including: creating an enabling environment with special focus on necessary laws, connecting through the National Backbone Infrastructure (NBI), supporting data sharing and security through the UGHUB which is a Government integration platform, supporting unit hosting of applications in the current cloud data centre, and supporting innovations and e-services in the precision agriculture space.
CAES Botanical Gardens Launched
The College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) through the School of Forestry, Environmental and Geographical Sciences (SFEGS) on 6th December launched the first CAES Botanical Gardens at Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute Kabanyolo (MUARIK). The Botanical Gardens will cover 30 acres of MUARIK land. This is one of the College initiatives geared towards the protection, conservation and recreation of ecosystems. The gardens will also be used for teaching and research. During the launch, over 300 trees were donated to the Gardens.
The CAES Botanical Gardens is an iconic monument set up to commemorate 100 years of Makerere University and 50 years of the School of Forestry, Environmental and Geographical Sciences. The idea of the gardens was an initiative by Prof. Bernard Bashaasha, following his visit to Stellenbosch University where he was impressed by the green scenery.
Established in 1953, MUARIK is one of the research institutes of CAES, Makerere University, with the main role of supporting the College’s mandate of teaching, research, outreach and production. MUARIK carries out research based on the nation’s priorities, including: biotechnology, tissue culture technology, plant breeding, development of improved farming techniques, agro-processing, marketing and value addition. The institute has had a number of achievements including: increased banana plantation acreage, poultry unit renovation, increased soybean production to 14 acres between 2018-2020, expansion of pasture gardens, improvement of the coffee plantation, and provision of training services to education institutions.
On behalf of Makerere University Vice Chancellor, the Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Finance and Administration, Prof. Henry Alinaitwe, commended CAES for the initiative, emphasizing the importance of forests in combating climate change. “We all rely on the environment and I am sure we have all witnessed how fast the environment is changing, and as a Civil Engineer I confess that we are part of the problem. We cut trees for construction purposes, with no effort to replace them,” he said.
Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga, Principal CAES, urged the First Year students at the College to take charge in as far as protection and conservation of forests is concerned. “Your cohort comes in at the beginning of a new century. We assign you the responsibility to take this forward,” she said. Prof. Nabanoga re-echoed the need for sustainable management of ecosystems for improved livelihoods.
According to Prof. Fred Babweteera, Dean School of Forestry, Environmental and Geographical Sciences, the CAES Botanical Gardens will serve as a centre for replicating a number of ecosystems, promoting and conserving the indigenous species, especially those with medicinal value, and setting up recreational spaces.
In her remarks, Hon. Kaaya Christine Nakimwero, Woman Member of Parliament, Kiboga District called on the public to support popularization of the Botanical Gardens. “I feel you are the centre of biological diversity, and having the gardens at the best University in Uganda is indeed something to celebrate,” she said.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Water and Environment, represented by Commissioner Mr. Alfred Okot Okidi described the Botanical Gardens as a great initiative that would boost Government efforts geared towards preserving forests.
According to Dr. Daniel Waiswa, Lecturer, Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Climatic Sciences, CAES, the Botanical Gardens will serve as a laboratory for many studies. It will also help in the promotion and conservation of endangered and indigenous species, as well as serve as a recreation centre.
The event was moderated by Dr. Patrick Byakagaba, Lecturer at the Department of Environmental Management, CAES.
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