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.
Soybean Breeders Deliberate Strategies for Improving Productivity
The breeders from USA, Brazil and across Africa, including scientists from CGIAR met at Makerere University on 28th November-1st December 2023 to share experiences, best practices and ideas on collaboration, and to brainstorm on ways of improving productivity.
Soybean (Glycine max) serves as one of the most valuable crops in the world, not only as an oil seed crop and feed for livestock and aquaculture, but also as a good and cheap source of protein for human diet and as a biofuel feedstock. The protein content of soybean is the highest among legume crops, averaging 40% on a dry matter basis. Soy-foods are generally considered to be nutritious and healthy based on their nutrient composition which includes protein, fat, carbohydrates, dietary fibres as well as minerals and phytoestrogens (or isoflavones). Due to its nutritional superiority, soybean-based foods are highly recommended for children under 5 years, expectant mothers, and HIV/AIDS patients. Impact studies have shown that regular soy food consumption can reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering serum cholesterol by about 33%. It can also reduce the risk of rectal cancer by 80%, mammary tumour by 40%, and breast cancer by 50%.
Production of soybean stands at 264 million MT worldwide, with United States of America (USA), Brazil and Argentina being the largest producers. In Africa, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Uganda are the largest producers, with annual volumes estimated at 1.5 million metric tonnes (FAO, 2017). The Soybean Market size is estimated to reach $259 billion by 2030 (IndustryARC – Soybean Market Forecast 2023-2028).
The economic viability of soy production is determined by the commercial utilization of both its sub-products, meal and oil, which, respectively, account for about two thirds and one third of the crop’s economic value. Soymeal accounts for over 60% of world output of vegetable and animal meals and occupies a prominent position among protein feedstuffs used in the production of feed concentrates, while soybean oil is the single most important vegetable oil, accounting for 20% of global vegetable oil production. The widespread use of soybean oil in particular as edible oil is mainly due to (i) its plentiful and dependable supplies, (ii) its competitive price, (iii) its neutral flavour, and its stability in both unhydrogenated and partially hydrogenated form. Indirectly, the rapid rise in the demand for compound feed has contributed considerably to the rise in soybean and soyoil production. Soybean contributes significantly to the total value added by the agricultural sector in the major producing countries and particularly so in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and the USA. In these countries, soybean and its two main sub-products also occupy an important position in export earnings from agriculture as well as in terms of total merchandise exports (FAO). In Uganda, soybean is number one income earner crop in Northern and Eastern Uganda. Farmers in the region earn at least UGX1,200,000 per hectare per season.
Challenges undermining productivity
Despite the significant strides registered by soybean growing countries, and the health and economic benefits that the crop presents, a number of challenges still undermine productivity. These include; pests and diseases, prolonged droughts and prolonged rains, poor agronomic practices, inaccessibility to good seed by farmers, drudgery in the production chain (Planting and harvesting) and market price fluctuations, as well as mismatches in supply and demand. Surging input costs, supply disruptions of fertilizers and alternative crops caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and lingering COVID-19 effects have added more uncertainty and volatility to the soybeans market, driving up the prices. Home grown technologies, local seed business approach, and addressing the whole value chain, are envisaged as some of the strategies to overcome the challenges. Adapting crop management, conserving and improving soil conditions by minimizing tilling, increasing crop diversification, protecting soil from erosion, as well as the development of drought-tolerant varieties, will be key to withstand the emerging climate challenges.
Soybean Breeders meeting at Makerere
Soybean breeders from USA, Brazil, and across Africa including scientists from CGIAR on 28th November 2023 met at Makerere University to share experiences, best practices, and ideas on collaboration, and to brainstorm on ways of improving soybean productivity. The meeting held at the School of Agricultural Sciences (SAS), College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) was organized by the Makerere University Centre for Soybean Improvement and Development (MAKCSID) and the Soybean Innovation Lab (SIL) of the University of Illinois with support from USAID. It was coordinated by Prof. Phinehas Tukamuhabwa, Principal Investigator for the Soybean Breeding and Seed Systems at Makerere, and Prof. Brian Diers from SIL, University of Illinois. It was graced by the Principal of CAES, Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga, the Deputy Principal, Prof. Yazidhi Bamutaze, and the Dean, SAS, Dr John Baptist Tumuhairwe. During the meeting, participants shared progress reports of their respective institutions, highlighting the achievements registered in soybean breeding and seed systems, best practices, challenges undermining productivity, and strategies for improvement. In his presentation, Prof. Diers briefed participants on SIL breeding efforts, indicating that 20 varieties had been developed between 2019-2022 up from the 7 developed between 2013-2018. He also shared updates on the renewed funding from USAID, and the support extended towards new breeding programmes at IITA in Nigeria, IITA in Zambia, EIAR in Ethiopia, Makerere University, and SARI in Ghana.
Delivering a presentation on soybean research in Uganda, Prof. Tukamuhabwa noted that the country had registered significant strides with the production of six high yielding varieties namely; Maksoy IN, Maksoy 2N, Maksoy 3N, Maksoy 4N; Maksoy 5N, Maksoy 6N. Recent impact studies indicated that the new varieties developed by MAKCSID were the most planted and accounted for 93% of the soybean varieties grown by Ugandan farmers. Currently, Maksoy 1N is the most widely adopted variety by farmers, while Maksoy 3N has the largest quantities of foundation seed disseminated by the Centre. According to Prof. Tukamuhabwa, the Centre also established a state-of-the-art seed storage facility for early generation seed (Breeders and Foundation seed) and soybean germplasm used for breeding other varieties. Other facilities are soybean processing equipment (soycow) and Soybean roaster that are used to add value to soybeans. The growth of the soybean sub-sector in Uganda is mainly attributed to the availability of a wide range of improved varieties, government investment in soybean research, and increased private sector investment along the soybean value chain. Despite the achievements, Prof. Tukamuhabwa outlined a number of factors undermining soybean seed systems in Uganda including; the presumed high cost of seed by farmers, counterfeit seed in the market, limited interest in self-pollinating crops by most private seed companies, weak seed policy enforcement, limited access to seed, and unpredictable weather conditions. He expressed gratitude to all development partners that have supported the growth of the MAKCSID programme including; USAID through SIL, the Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF VODP), NARO, NAcRRI, RUFORUM, AATF, AGRA, Soybean Africa Limited, NAADS, Smart Foods, ISSD Uganda, IITA, and all local soybean stakeholders.
At the meeting, participants including Godfree Chigeza from IITA, Zambia; Abush Tesfaye (IITA, Nigeria), Masresha Yirga (EIAR, Ethiopia), Harun Murithi (SIL), Andrew Scaboo (University of Missouri), Elizabeth De Meyer (University of Missouri), and Carrie Miranda (North Dakota State University) delivered presentations on the progress of their breeding and research programmes.
A major concern arising from the meeting was the increasing threat of rust. Through efforts of the Centre for Soybean Improvement and Development (MAKCSID), the soybean rust pandemic was brought under control, through breeding and dissemination of superior varieties to the farming communities.
Going forward, participants emphasized the need to set up a rust reference centre, early warning systems, and disease nurseries – potential lines for monitoring virulence. They also called for an increase in germplasm acquisition, capacity building for germplasm storage and utilization, introduction of bruchid tolerant genotypes, introduction of soybean genotypes suitable for mechanical harvest, mechanization of production processes, leveraging the scarce research infrastructure, and the development of necessary skills amongst scientists and staff.
In her remarks, the Principal of CAES, Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga expressed gratitude to participants for leading soybean development initiatives. She also appreciated the development partners for supporting the programme. Commenting on the significance of the crop, she said under NDPIII, soybean had been identified as a game changer and one of the crops to improve the country’s food systems. “The crop has been targeted for its oils and nutritional benefits. It is therefore important that we move it to the next level in terms of resistance to diseases, adaption to climate change, and development of fast growing varieties.” She specifically thanked the breeding team led by Prof. Tukamuhabwa for making Makerere the leading Centre in quality soybean seed production and distribution in the country. During their four-day visit, the soybean breeders visited the screen houses, soybean fields, and the Early Generation Seed Unit at MUARIK where they provided enriching insights for improvement. The team also toured Nakabango/Jinja trials as well as the Bugi ZARDI highland soybean trials.
More photos from the meeting
Stakeholders to work with Academia to strengthen Education & Research in Biodiversity Conservation
On 16th November 2023, national and international stakeholders participated in the kick off workshop hosted at Makerere University to further consolidate various schools of thought aimed at producing a holistic and relevant graduate student equipped with practical skills, research and problem solving abilities aligned to Sustainable Development Goals.
The blended kick off workshop, which brought on board the academia, researchers, private sector, civil society, business community and graduate students set the pace for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Partnership Project titled: Strengthening Education and Research Capacity for Enhancing Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Natural Resources Use.”
Expected to benefit over 350 graduate students and 20 members of staff, the SDG Partnership project that will be implemented by Makerere University (Mak) through the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) in collaboration with Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences (HSRW), and Central University of Technology (CUT) is funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
Welcoming the stakeholders to the kick off workshop, the research project team represented by Prof. John Tabuti from Makerere University and Ms Nele Vahrenhorst from Rhine Waal University of Applied Sciences highlighted that the project seeks to contribute to the following SDGs:
- Poverty Eradication (SDG 1), Zero Hunger (SDG 2), Quality Education (SDG 4), Economic Growth (SDG 8), promoting sustainable consumption and production through developing business opportunities in natural resources use (SDG 12), Climate action through better management technologies and protection on natural resources and ecosystems reducing carbon emissions (SDG 13), as well as protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably managed forests, combat desertification and halt reverse land degradation and halt bio diversity loss (SDG 15).
Prof. Tabuti stated that the mode of delivery will prioritise the student using an approach referred to as ‘Student-centred learning.”
The main objective of the project is to enhance SDG research and teaching through a strong North-South-South partnership between HSRW, Mak, and CUT, so as to prepare graduate students for the societal challenges ahead, and the requirements of the job market. The SDG project partnership will ensure that university graduates are highly equipped with the necessary competencies to develop appropriate resource management responses, and implement optimum biodiversity conservation strategies as well as dealing with dynamic and complex business problems. The project will address the issue of environmental degradation hence poverty reduction, food insecurity, natural resource depletion, and climate change.
The project will focus on mainly Uganda, being the most bio-diverse country in Sub-Saharan Africa, with over 70% of its population relying on agriculture and use of natural resources. In addition, the loss of substantial parts of the natural habitat used in infrastructure development and extension is a major issue of concern. The research project states the urgent need to encourage the youths and students to foster their passion for SDGs premised on the rapid population growth in Uganda, with 50% of the population being under 16 years old.
Officially opening the kick off workshop for the SDG partnership project, the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, represented by Associate Prof. Robert Wamala from the Directorate of Research and Graduate Training commended the physical and online participants for accepting to engage in this highly interactive workshop. He further underscored the need to conduct research aligned to the SDGs, national development goals, and global challenges.
The Vice Chancellor pointed out that biodiversity, despite sustaining the planet, faces unprecedented challenges including: Climate change, habitat loss, pollution, and unsustainable resource use. He highlighted education and research as the most formidable tools in addressing these challenges. He noted the role played by Makerere University through its 5-year Strategic Plan that aligns with the National Development Plan III (2020/21-2024/25), by contributing to our transformation into a “research-led” institution with a multi-faceted research agenda and enhanced engagement with industry players.
Associate Professor Robert Wamala concluded by informing the audience that DAAD has been instrumental in his career growth, having sponsored both his Masters’ and PhD studies. Currently serving as Deputy Director (Research Innovations and Partnerships) at Makerere University, he applauded DAAD for supporting research and capacity building programmes at Makerere University.
According to the Acting Head, Department of Environmental Management at Makerere University, Associate Professor Vincent Muwanika, the project will support practical training of students on problem identification, and staff in identifying and publishing local cases that are key in enhancing growth, not only at Makerere University but also in the private sector.
Associate Prof. Muwanika observed that the project’s alignment with SDG 15 will be guided by and greatly benefit from partnerships. He noted that partnerships are key in enabling us share and cross fertilize academic ideas and experiences, a feat that has kept Makerere University among top-tier research institutions.
Highlighting the importance of policies in churning out relevant products, Associate Prof. Muwanika commended the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University-Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe for spearheading and overseeing policies and programmes that recognize, incentivize, and promote partnerships with industry, people and institutions outside Makerere University.
To further onboard the stakeholders, the project team leads namely Prof. John Tabuti and Ms Nele Vahrenhorst specified that the main activities of the project would include: improving the teaching material on courses that assemble natural resources for use, socio-ecological issues, data analysis, genetics, entrepreneurship, and sustainable tourism. The project will focus on capacity building of teaching and research staff on various methods, develop case studies on sustainable natural resources use, develop networks with non-academic actors, enhance student mobility to strengthen international perspectives, as well as promote inter-country inter-disciplinary learning exchange, incorporate higher education management, internationalization, digitalization as well as monitoring and evaluation.
Prof. Tabuti advocated for a strong stakeholder engagement for content development, research undertakings and case studies. “We have brought you on board because you are key people in the field. You are going to play an instrumental role in the development of case studies. Stakeholders will work with the academic staff to develop the content and teach our students,” said Prof. Tabuti.
In a highly interactive session involving a plenary and group sessions, the stakeholders contributed to the discussion on their needs and expectations regarding the graduate competencies and skills in biodiversity conservation and sustainable natural resources.
Matters arising from the stakeholder workshop:
- With regard to the kind of graduates’ employers would wish to have, participants presented a number of qualities including: good communication skills, practical orientation, humility, openness to diversity, readiness to learn and unlearn, ability to adopt to work ethics, problem solving skills, articulateness, confidence with ability to collaborate, design thinking mindset, and innovativeness.
- In response to a question on how the partnership with stakeholders to support teaching and research shall be made possible, the participants presented proposals including: Identification of case studies linking to the lecture to be delivered, identification of key stakeholders, stakeholder engagement, identification of valid course content, design access and agreement on methodological approach to be used during the teaching and learning process, compilation of issues to be addressed before they are presented, design of a working document that can guide who does what, coming up with a team to develop a framework for developing the curricular.
- Responses to a question on how partners can collaborate in development of case studies included: contribution of knowledge to case study development, establishment of linkages with the community, identification of research gaps, sharing of available resources in public domain, documentation of intellectual property rights, collaboration in teaching and training of students, provision of internship opportunities, giving notifications for advance preparation.
During the presentations, stakeholders indicated the readiness to partner with Makerere University to contribute to the development of case studies and content production for lectures and community outreach.
Closing the kick off workshop, Prof. Tabuti conveyed his gratitude to Makerere University management for supporting the project. He acknowledged Ms Ritah Namisango, the Principal Public Relations Officer of Makerere University for moderating the workshop. He thanked Dr. Dorothy Nampanziira, Ms Ritah Namisango, Ms Aziidah Namatovu and Dr. Godfrey Mayende for the excellent coordination of activities leading to the successful hosting of the workshop. He also thanked the physical and online participants for actively contributing to the stakeholders’ workshop.
RUFORUM 19th AGM Urges Africa to Take the Lead on Climate Action
By Agaba Issa Mugabo
As the impacts of climate change are increasingly being felt across Africa, the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) has reminded African Governments that their climate commitments are key to preserving the continent’s unique natural resources.
The appeal was made on 1st November 2023 in Yaoundé, Cameroon, where higher education leaders, researchers, policy makers, development partners, students, farmers, among others from across the African continent and the world gathered to discuss and lay strategies to transform agricultural higher education to contribute to Africa’s development.
In line with thematic areas of the 19th RUFORUM Annual General Meeting (AGM), the “Accelerating and Scaling-Up Africa’s Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Actions: Experiences and Lessons” side-event was held. The side-event provided a platform for participants to share experiences and lessons learned from initiatives such as; Accelerating Impacts of CGIAR Climate Research for Africa project (AICCRA), the Global Research Alliance for Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA) and Responsible Artificial Intelligence for Climate Action in Africa (RAINCA). It served as a unifying platform where participants collectively envisioned a future characterized by integration and harmony of solutions.
Furthermore, the side-event emphasized the urgent need for swift and coordinated action to mitigate and adapt to the changing climate. The event featured discussions aimed at fostering efficiency, collaboration, and idea-sharing across various tracks.
Africa by virtue of its overreliance on rain-fed agriculture is vulnerable to climate change impacts. Predictions show that global warming of 1.5°C or 2.0°C, a now more than likely scenario, will shorten crop growth duration, aggravate droughts, and consequently reduce yield for major staple cereals.
Climate change adaptation is therefore necessary to reduce the likely impacts on agricultural productivity. Furthermore, mitigation actions are required to reduce on greenhouse gas emissions and enhance carbon sequestration.
In addition to sharing lessons and experiences, the side-event provided a forum to address challenges in accelerating and scaling up Africa’s climate change adaptation and mitigation actions.
Speakers and discussants emphasized the vital role of climate finance in unlocking Africa’s green energy potential and fostering climate-resilient development, with a call on African governments to allocate more financial resources to address climate challenges effectively.
Dr. Florence Nakayiwa Mayega, the Deputy Executive Secretary of RUFORUM, welcomed the attendees with a powerful message. “Africa can play a bigger role in climate change mitigation” she said, urging that “Governments and their people must mitigate climate change while preparing for climate change”.
The Deputy Executive Secretary said that the main objective of the side event was to explore how universities can play an active role in addressing climate change issues. She added that universities should therefore take keen interest in the climate change initiatives RUFORUM is engaged in.
“Under the AICCRA programme, RUFORUM has developed curricula for enhancing the use of validated climate-smart agriculture (CSA) and/or the climate information services (CIS) knowledge products developed by the CGIAR Centres and other research institutions” added Dr. Nakayiwa Mayega.
The modules and other technologies, practices and innovations developed under the AICCRA programme were showcased at the side-event. The meeting also explored avenues for mainstreaming CSA/CIS into university activities including university curricula, research and outreach.
Dr. Robert Zougmore the AICCRA West Africa Cluster Lead delivered the keynote address on Accelerating and scaling-up Africa’s climate change adaptation and mitigation actions: Experiences and lessons learned from AICCRA. He reported that AICCRA which started in 2012 has reached three million smallholder farmers in six countries including: Senegal, Ghana, Mali, Ethiopia, Kenya and Zambia. This, he said, had been achieved through a number of regional initiatives that complement national activities to deliver benefits for a broader range of stakeholders across East, West and Southern Africa.
“Africa, like other regions, has come to terms with the reality that climate change is already happening. The continent now knows that if left untamed, Africa’s economies, livelihoods and nature will be hit by severe climate-induced pressure,” said Dr. Zougmore.
“AICCRA has 45 packages that support millions of smallholder farmers across Africa to access and use proven innovations in climate information services and climate-smart agriculture,” he said.
Dr. Zougmore added that AICCRA believes that with better access to innovative technology and advisory services—linked to information about effective response measures—farmers are enabled to better anticipate climate events and take preventative action that helps their communities safeguard livelihoods and the environment.
He also said that close to 80 partner organisations across Africa are using AICCRA technologies to help farmers and ten agriculture data (Agdata) hubs have been established with the aim of transforming agriculture decisions in Africa. The hubs integrate data from multiple sources to help farmers make informed decisions about what crops or varieties to plant in a given location and when to sow them.
Addressing the audience on “Championing a transformative mode of Climate Change Action in Africa”, Dr. Ackim Mwape, from the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA) called for the continent’s increased determination to accelerate action on adaptation and finance in order to deliver climate justice that Africa deserves.
Dr. Mwape said that there is need to inject more financial resources in climate action solutions in Africa to ensure that communities can bolster their climate resilience. “Only USD 30 billion in climate financing flows into Africa annually, which is only 11% of the climate financing needs estimated at USD 280 billion a year,” he said.
He said that governments, the private sector, multilaterals and development partners need to do more to help close the climate financing gap on the continent that is not only the hardest hit by climate change but also sleepwalking into a potential catastrophe. Dr. Mwape added that the ongoing initiatives by international partners are still a drop in the ocean compared to financial resources needed to protect the most vulnerable.
He concluded by adding that failure to act now, not only exacerbates immediate risks but also threatens long-term resilience and contributes to social inequality and political instability. He reiterated that access to adequate financial resources is crucial for climate change adaptation and developed countries are expected to scale up climate finance for developing countries with a balanced allocation between adaptation and mitigation.
Discussing Climate Information Services (CIS) Curriculum Development and Research: Experiences from International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), James Hansen a Senior Research Scientist at IRI, said that Africa requires climate information services that effectively meet African farmers’ decision-making needs in a variable and changing climate.
He said that well-functioning weather and climate information services can save lives and livelihoods. He added that in order for African communities and businesses to adapt more effectively to the inevitable impacts of climate change, CIS must be strengthened as comprehensively as possible.
Prof. Hansen however acknowledged that uptake and use of CIS in Africa is influenced by many factors including the lack of reliable historical observations, coarse scale of future climate projections, and weakly coordinated CIS delivery, among others.
Participants were urged to mitigate the effects of climate-related weather events and manage residual risks through participatory planning and comprehensive service delivery.
The side event concluded with a resounding message to the effect that: Africa is not just a continent facing climate impacts; it is a continent poised to lead the world in climate solutions.
During the same event, the GRA-RUFORUM Alumni Network in Africa was launched.
RUFORUM convenings are held annually and rotationally in countries where its member universities are based.
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