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Call for Applications: PhD Research Grants

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BACKGROUND

Funding opportunity description: Makerere University received special funding from the Government of the Republic of Uganda, to support high impact Research and Innovations that will accelerate national development. The Financial Year 2022/23 will be the fourth year of this fund’s availability. The fund illustrates the increasing importance that the Government attaches to Research and Innovation as a driver of socio-economic transformation. The objective of the fund is to increase the local generation of translatable research and scalable innovations that address key gaps required to drive Uganda’s development agenda. Over the last three Financial Years (2019/2020, 2020/21 and 2021/2022), government appropriated 79 Billion Uganda Shillings to support this Fund. Between the two years, MakRIF has funded a total of 775 projects across all sectors critical for development. In the next Financial Year (2022/23), Makerere University expects to receive about 30 Billion Uganda shillings (about US$ 8.1 million) under the Government Research and Innovation Fund (RIF). Of this, at least 3 Billion Shillings will fund PhD research ideas that generate knowledge that addresses national development priorities. The Makerere University Research and Innovation Grants Management Committee (GMC) therefore announces the RIF Round 4, Track 2 (PhD Research Grants). Available funds are obligated for the Financial Year 2022/2023, with an expectation of actionable results that speak to the National Research and Innovation Agenda. The GMC therefore invites applications from PhD students with original research ideas that demonstrate a clear link to key thematic areas of the National Research and Innovation Agenda. 

This is a closed call that is open to only PhD students. This funding call is specifically targeted to PhD students that are full time at Makerere University.

Grant amounts and estimated number of awards: The GMC estimates to award the following number and amount of PhD Research Grants:

CategoryAmount per awardApproximate NumberTotal amount
Category 1: Arts and HumanitiesUp to 25,000,000/=50*1,250,000,000/=
Category 2: SciencesUp to 35,000,000/=50*1,750,000,000/=
Total 1003,000,000,000/=

*Note: The numbers shown are only indicative. The MakRIF GMC reserves the right to adjust the numbers based on the quality of the proposals submitted.

Applicants should take into consideration the following:

  • Given that the MakRIF funds are received on an annual basis, and are tied to a specific financial year, the current grant only commits to funding the awardee for a period of one year. This award therefore covers one financial year.
  • However, the MakRIF GMC is cognizant of the fact that PhD research often spreads over more than one year in which case it requires multi-year funding. Because of this reality, PhD students who are funded under this round will be eligible for extension funding in the following financial year. Second year funding will not be automatic but will be conditional to the following: 1) Availability of funds, 2) Showing cause as to which additional areas of research will be covered in the second year of funding, 3) Successful execution and completion of all the objectives for Year 1 funding, evidenced by full submission of the required deliverables; 4) Full technical and financial accountability for all the funds given to the researcher during the current year of funding. Students would have to apply for the follow-on funding through the next year’s PhD Research Grant call.
  • The GMC recognizes that the amounts indicated for this award may not be sufficient to cover all the necessary costs for a student’s project. In such cases, the award should be considered as a contribution and the students should mobilize additional funding to bridge the resource gaps.
  • The number of awards indicated are only estimated and the GMC retains the discretion to determine the amount and number of awards based on the actual funding that MakRIF funders will make available and the number of quality proposals submitted. 

Scope and Technical Description of the Research and Innovation Grant

The GMC conducted a comprehensive stakeholder consultation to identify priority thematic areas of interest for national development. The GMC triangulated this information with that from the National Development Plan III, the Makerere University Strategic Plan and Research Agenda to develop an instructive MakRIF research agenda that responds to national development priorities. The RIF Round 4, Track 2 (PhD Research Grants) will therefore specifically target research and innovation projects that align with priority thematic issues in the MakRIF instructive Research Agenda under 14 thematic areas as follows:

Theme 1: Transforming the Agricultural sector to drive development

Theme 2: Achieving Sustainable health as a means to sustainable development

Theme 3: Re-imagining Education to unlock capacity for economic development

Theme 4: Water, sanitation and the environment: A pre-requisite to sustainable development

Theme 5: Harnessing the social sector, culture and arts to drive development

Theme 6. Harnessing Tourism, wildlife and heritage for development

Theme 7: Sustainable Planning, finance and monitoring as catalysts for growth

Theme 8: Leveraging public service and local administration for efficient service delivery

Theme 9: Defence and security: Achieving sustainable peace and stability

Theme 10: Strengthening law, governance, human rights and international cooperation as prerequisites for development

Theme 11: Harnessing Information and Communication Technology to drive development

Theme 12: Works, manufacturing, science and technology as tools to accelerate development

Theme 13: Solutions to catalyse business and enterprise

Theme 14: Energy and Minerals as drivers of rapid economic development

Click here to view details of each theme.

The Mak-RIF PhD Research Grants will cover all technical disciplines in Makerere University as long as the research questions align with the instructive research agenda themes above. Particular attention will be paid to ideas that have clear potential for scalability to drive development.

Note: This grant covers the coasts of research. It does not cover payment of tuition or living stipends for the PhD students. 

Eligibility

The PhD research grants will only be open to PhD students who have been approved for full registration at Makerere University. Students who have already received full scholarships under other award programs are not eligible to apply for these grants as this will constitute double funding. In line with this, PhD students who are members of academic faculty of Makerere University are not eligible since they are covered by the Staff Development Program. This funding is only open to Makerere University students. PhD students registered in other universities are not eligible for this funding. Further specifications on the awards are as follows:

  1. Applicants must be at a stage where they have been approved for full registration as PhD students at Makerere University. Being at the stage of full registration means that they have developed a full research proposal that has been approved by the respective Higher Degrees Research Committee in their academic unit, and that they have been have been recommended for full registration OR are fully registered by Makerere University. Applicants will be required to provide evidence of one of the following: Minutes of the Higher Degrees Research Committee in their Academic college, showing approval of their research proposal, OR a full registration certificate.
  2. Because the research funds are provided for one year funding cycles, PhD students with provisional registration will not be eligible for funding under this award since the time required for them to complete full proposal development and to start data collection is unlikely to fit within the financial year. 
  3. These grants are limited to PhD students who do not have prior funding for their studies or whose funding is inadequate to cover their research. Applicants in the latter category must make full disclosure of their other funding sources and what they cover.
  4. Applicants should provide a letter of support from any one of the following: 1) The Head of their Department, or 2) The Dean of their School, or 3) the Principal of their College (Only one of these is sufficient).
  5. Applicants should provide a letter of support from one of their Supervisors within Makerere University. The letter should clearly indicate that they do not have other funding that fully covers their research/training activities, or where such funding is available, they should indicate what aspects of the student’s study program it covers and the funding gap. The supporting Supervisor will be designated as a co-Investigator on the research project.

GRANT GUIDELINES

MakRIF PhD Research Grant applicants will submit a competitive project proposal for the available funding. The proposal ought to specify the objectives for the full research project. It should also indicate which of the full research objectives will be specifically met by the available funding for this financial year. 

Students intending to apply for multi-year funding in the subsequent years will be required to indicate so. In such cases, the students should indicate which study objectives would be covered by the extension funding.

The research problem: The proposal should clearly articulate the knowledge gap that the researcher targets to address, and why it is important to address this knowledge gap. The research problem should be aligned to at least one theme in the MakRIF research agenda. 

The proposed solution: PhD Researchers should present the proposed solution in form of the research focus for the current phase of the funding. They should clearly articulate the objectives of the planned research. Researchers should also describe the critical content of the solution (i.e., the ‘research methodology’). Researchers should defend the relevance of the proposed solution to addressing key development outcomes in the respective sector and its alignment to one or more thematic areas specified in this call. Researchers should also demonstrate that at least one objective of their research project is implementable within one (1) year and will result in tangible results within one year of execution. 

Research projects that require multi-year implementation will only be considered if they can show actionable intermediate results or objectives attainable within 1 implementation year, since funding will be on a yearly basis. Apart from a summary of the proposed approach, researchers will provide a more detailed description of their technical approach (research methodology) to enable a robust assessment of the rigor of the proposed methodology. 

Outputs, outcomes and impact: Researchers should articulate the overall scientific outputs, outcomes and anticipated impact of the PhD research project. They should state the primary (Direct) and secondary (Indirect) beneficiaries of the planned research project. They should state the anticipated outputs (the outputs of the activities of the entire project as well as the specific milestones to be attained with the one-year funding) and the outcomes (both the outcomes of the entire project and those for the current funding phase). Researchers should also state the anticipated impact of the the project (Note: Impact might not be achievable in one or even a few years in which case the current phase only contributes to it). Since this funding is specific to the current financial year, projects must demonstrate clearly the deliverables they expect within one year, matching the level of investment made and attainable in the 1-year timeframe. Multi-year projects should show clearly what will be achieved in the current year of funding as well as what would be achieved overall when the full PhD research is completed in the subsequent years.

Translation and dissemination for impact: Since this fund is aimed at supporting government and its partners to improve service delivery and to accelerate development, researchers should show a clear plan for disseminating their findings to audiences critical for policy and program change so as to achieve impact at scale. This will include a clear description of the knowledge translation and dissemination plan to stakeholders in the relevant sectors including the knowledge products anticipated to arise from the study (e.g., publications, policy briefs, knowledge briefs, etc.). Innovation-based projects should articulate a scaling strategy, including linkage to scaling partners within the industry (for commercially viable enterprises), or within the relevant public sectors (for innovations targeted to the public) or within relevant implementing agencies (for social enterprises). Innovations targeting commercial interest should demonstrate the anticipated commercial potential, anticipated demand, anticipated patents/copy-rights/industrial design claims/trademarks if applicable and the path to commercialization. Innovations targeting social impact (social innovations) should elucidate the path to wide scale community uptake. 

Ethical implications: The implications of the research to human subjects, animal subjects and the environment should be articulated where necessary including how key ethical or environmental concerns arising from the study will be addressed. It is anticipated that at the time of full registration, projects requiring ethical approval will have already obtained that approval from their respective ethics committees.

Budget: Researchers will prepare a summary budget for the one-year phase of their project as well as a detailed budget. Budgets should be submitted in the official currency (Uganda Shillings).  Because these are university funds, academic units (Departments, Schools and Colleges) will not charge institutional overheads to any of the research funds. Budgets should not spread beyond one Financial Year. Even if the projects to be funded under this mechanism are multi-year, researchers should provide a budget for only one Financial Year. The budgets will include the following sections:

  • 1.0 Personnel costs
  • 2.0 Travel
  • 3.0 Supplies and services
  • 4.0 Equipment
  • 5.0 Program activity costs
  • 6.0 Dissemination

Under Personnel costs, applicants should not budget for ‘Salaries’ for staff who are paid a salary by Makerere University or another Government of Uganda institution (whether on permanent or contract terms) as this would constitute double payment from government funds. However, such researchers can budget for ‘activity-based’ time input or ‘level-of-effort-based’ costs for their additional time input into the project in form of allowances. The latter should be justified by specifying the extra-time demands from the project for each individual involved. 

Researchers can budget for salaries for critical project staff that are not paid by Makerere or the Government of Uganda e.g., Project Coordinators, Administrative Assistants, Research Officers etc. Regular Personnel costs excluding field research assistants should not exceed 33% of the budget. Field research assistants (or Data collectors) if needed should not be included under ‘Personnel costs’ but should instead be included under ‘Program Activity Costs’. All salaries and all repetitive allowances will be subject to mandatory statutory deductions at source, to pay the relevant taxes. Because these funds are earmarked to support actual research, PhD students cannot budget for a monthly stipend under this award.

In addition to the summary budget, research teams will be required to attach a detailed budget (As an MS Excel attachment) that breaks down all expenditure line items, inclusive of a budget justification that explains the rationale behind the different budget items. The total budget in the budget summary should exactly match that in the detailed breakdown. You should budget within the category that your project was funded in RIF-1. Budgeting in another category will lead to disqualification. The total budget should not exceed the highest amount indicated for the respective funding category in which your project lies. Exceeding the indicated category maximum can result in disqualification.

PhD Researchers can also budget for Tuition.

Workplan: Researchers will provide a list of key milestones for the project clearly demonstrating the deliverables expected at each point during the extension phase of the project. These milestones will be used as the basis for tracking implementation of activities towards project goals and outputs. Given the one-year time-frame for the awards, it will be important that researchers commit to a clear time-bound set of deliverables all achievable within one year for the main deliverable targeted during the current period of funding. Failure to articulate a one (1) year plan will imply inability to utilize the grant funds within one (1) year

GRANT PROCESS

Submission of applications: Submission of the applications will be online at http://rif.mak.ac.ug/portal All submissions must be online and must be made within the stipulated period. To access the application form, the PhD Research Fund applicant will be required to create a MakRIF account. In your account, select the appropriate funding opportunity and fill out the application form. 

Rules governing applications: All applications should be written in English. All applications should be submitted via the online portal mentioned above. Complete applications must be submitted not later than 11.59pm East African Time on the closing date. No submissions after closure of applications will be accepted. Any attempt at solicitation of acceptance beyond this date will not be entertained. The Grants Committee bears no responsibility for submissions that are not completed in time and incomplete submissions will not be considered. If none of the submitted applications meets the requirements to receive a grant, the call may be reopened at the sole discretion of the Grants Management Committee. An individual researcher should not submit more than ONE application.

Participants agree to assume any and all risks, and to waive claims against Makerere University and the Grants Management Committee for any injury, death, damage, or loss of property, revenue, or profits, whether direct, indirect, or consequential, arising from their participation in this grant implementation.

Evaluation and selection of projects: Applications will be reviewed by the GMC. Submission of an application does not mean the project must be funded. The GMC will evaluate five main aspects of the project:

  1. The alignment of the proposed research to national priorities as stipulated in the MakRIF research agenda
  2. Clear articulation of the knowledge gap and how the planned research will contribute to building new knowledge
  3. Quality of the proposal in terms of the relevance and innovativeness of the proposed solution, the planned activities and the articulation of a sound methodology
  4. Clear stipulation of outputs and outcomes and feasibility of tangible achievements within one year of funding
  5. Potential impact and transformativeness of the proposed research idea
  6. Submission of a realistic budget

Notification of successful applicants: Successful applicants will be informed by email to their designated point of contact.

Grant timeline:

MilestoneDate
Issuance of RFA Thur 29th Sept 2022 (Closed to PhD students only)
Closing date for applicationsSunday 23rd Oct 2022
SelectionMonday 24th October 2022 to Friday 18th November 2022
Award notificationFriday 18th November 2022
InductionTuesday 22nd November 2022

To submit application, please create an account on https://rif.mak.ac.ug/portal and login to start the application process.

Natural Sciences

Dr. Alice Nabatanzi Wins Prestigious US$ 50,000 OWSD Award

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Dr. Alice Nabatanzi, Lecturer, College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), Makerere University.

Dr. Alice Nabatanzi a Lecturer in the College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS) has won the prestigious Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) award worth US$ 50,000.  This prestigious award is purposed to support Dr. Nabatanzi to establish an environment at Makerere University where she can maintain an international standard of scientific research and attract scholars from all over the world to collaborate.

OWSD is an international organization founded in 1987 and based at the offices of The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), in Trieste, Italy. OWSD is the first international forum to unite eminent women scientists from the developing and developed worlds with the objective of strengthening their role in the development process and promoting their representation in scientific and technological leadership. OWSD is creating a network of outstanding women scientists who can provide mentorship and be role models for the next generation of women leaders in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).

Seated L-R: Fmr. Chancellor-Prof. Mondo Kagonyera, Director DRGT-Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi, Convener-Dr Alice Nabatanzi and Representative of the DVCAA-Prof. Christopher Mbazira with Dep. Principal CoNAS-Prof. Fredrick Muyodi (Standing R) and representatives from partner institutions at the 1st NAPIANA Symposium on 17th January 2022, Makerere University.
Seated L-R: Fmr. Chancellor-Prof. Mondo Kagonyera, Director DRGT-Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi, Convener-Dr Alice Nabatanzi and Representative of the DVCAA-Prof. Christopher Mbazira with Dep. Principal CoNAS-Prof. Fredrick Muyodi (Standing R) and representatives from partner institutions at the 1st NAPIANA Symposium on 17th January 2022,Makerere University.

Dr. Nabatanzi will for the next three years build on her leadership and management skills, and develop connections with public and private sector partners to convert her scientific research findings into marketable and patentable products. She believes unexploited biomolecules are the answer to the cure for new disease pathogens and health conditions affecting the majority of Ugandans and the world at large. Africa is a hub of biomolecules, majority of which have not yet been exploited. For her OWSD AWARD, Dr. Nabatanzi’s major research focus will be the burden of postpartum hemorrhage in Uganda.

Additionally, she is enthusiastic about undertaking society-changing research, especially in line with easing the burden of non-communicable diseases in African societies. Dr. Nabatanzi is keen on addressing nutritional deficiencies among the vulnerable marginalized groups, particularly pregnant women, school-going children, people living with HIV/AIDS, and the elderly.

Dr. Alice Nabatanzi speaks during the establishment of the NAPIANA NETWORK which will act a platform to connect with the local communities, private sector, Government agencies and the international community.
Dr. Alice Nabatanzi speaks during the establishment of the NAPIANA NETWORK which will act a platform to connect with the local communities, private sector, Government agencies and the international community.

Through her already established NAPIANA (Natural Products Industry Advancement Network Africa) network, (see related story: https://cns.mak.ac.ug/blog/makerere-hosts-1st-napiana-symposium) Dr. Nabatanzi will strengthen linkages with the local communities, private sector, Government agencies and international community in a bid to promote her research and standardized natural products thereby bridging the gaps in the natural products value chain.

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Research

Makerere-University of Bergen Research School Opens

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Seated: Former Vice Chancellor Prof. Livingstone Luboobi (2nd Left), Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi - Mak Academic Registrar (2nd Right), Dr. Lwando Mdleleni - Researcher, University of the Western Cape (Right), together with students participating in the Research School at the Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility Auditorium on 28th November 2022.

The first ever Makerere-University of Bergen Research School (MBRS) got underway at the Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility Auditorium on Monday 28th November 2022. Held as part of activities to celebrate Makerere University’s 100 years of excellence and 35 years of close collaboration with the University of Bergen (UiB), the MBRS was officially opened by the Ambassador of Norway to Uganda H.E. Elin Østebø Johansen. In attendance was the Academic Registrar Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi who represented the Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, Vice Rector University of Bergen Prof. Benedicte Carlsen, who attended virtually from UiB, researchers, MBRS facilitators and participants as well as staff of Makerere.

Set to be held from 28th November to 9th December 2022, the MBRS attracted twenty-eight (28) student participants, twenty-two (22) of whom will be physically present at Makerere University, while six (6) will attend virtually from the hub at UiB. Fifteen (15) of the students are female while thirteen (13) are male. The students are from sixteen (16) nations namely; the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Jordan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Philippines, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe.  

Additionally, students are drawn from sixteen (16) different universities namely; Addis Ababa University, University of Bergen, University of Cape Town, Estonian University of Life Sciences, University of Ghana, University of Ibadan, Kampala International University, University of KwaZulu-Natal, University of Leeds and Makerere University. Others are; Obafemi Awolowo University, University of Oslo, The Regional Centre for Sustainable Adaption to Global Change in the Middle East (SAGE), University of the Western Cape and Wuhan Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

Prof. Buyinza in his welcome remarks thanked Ambassador Elin Østebø Johansen for always honoring invitations to events at Makerere and actively cultivating a warm and cordial relationship between the Royal Norwegian Embassy and the University. 

“The spirit of our partnership is built first and foremost on strong personal relationships between the faculty of the two institutions, and constant communication as supported by the two collaboration offices set up and funded by either institution” remarked Prof. Buyinza. 

He added that the University of Bergen is the only institution that has had a permanent presence at Makerere University since 1992. This active partnership, he noted, is partly responsible for Makerere and the University of Bergen’s winning six (6) projects under the NORHED II programme, two (2) projects under the NORPART programme, one (1) project under the Norwegian Research Council and at least two individually funded PhDs.

Turning to the MBRS, Prof. Buyinza noted that the initiative is based upon the successes of the Bergen Summer Research School (BSRS), which has been running since 2008 at the University of Bergen under its global challenges programme.

“The overall goal of the Makerere-Bergen Research School is to implement a regular PhD Research School in the global south, increasing the internationalization of Makerere University towards global excellence and enhancing regional collaboration among African universities through south-south and north-south mobility” added Prof. Buyinza.

H.E. Elin Østebø Johansen in her remarks congratulated the two institutions upon commemorating Makerere’s 100 year anniversary and 35 years of cooperation by holding the MBRS in Uganda. She acknowledged that the School’s theme; Food and Water Security in a changing World, is highly relevant to many countries in both the Global North and South.

“Climate change is a reality, so is the fact that without having contributed significantly to the situation in terms of emissions, countries in Africa are the hardest hit… their national economies are highly dependent on the agricultural sector. This implies severe problems and crises for economies and people in general” observed H.E. Johansen.

She added that knowledge and fact-based understanding of underlying processes and developments is one of the most important tools in Norway’s development assistance portfolio with partner countries. The Ambassador therefore emphasized the role of research as a mechanism for establishing knowledge and evidence from which decisions can be made. The Ambassador reiterated that Norway’s philosophy on collaboration in research with its partners in all academic fields, which prioritizes inclusiveness as a means of ensuring green and sustainable results.

Vice Rector Prof. Carlsen acknowledged that UiB’s collaboration with Makerere that goes back to 1988 is one of the longest standing relationships her institution has had with any other University. She added that the MBRS is a natural development from the longstanding collaboration aimed at addressing research priorities at both universities.

“The close collaboration is a prime example of longstanding research collaboration that turns into individual friendship and trust. That trust is the strong foundation for achieving goals and building for the future together; bringing South and North together to address common challenges and finding common solutions” added Prof. Carlsen.

The Mak-UiB Collaboration Coordinator for Makerere University Dr. Ronald Semyalo, noted that the MBRS is similar to other activities held under the auspices of the Uganda-Norway Alumni Association. Such activities, he said, include the Annual SDGs and Youth Programme, generously supported by the Norwegian Embassy. He added that the Mak-UiB Collaboration is built on long term intentions with the aim of roping in even more institutions through activities such as the MBRS.

“And that is what we have done here. We have invited young researchers from very many countries and we believe that our interactions here will build on that collaboration (with the University of Bergen)” explained Dr. Semyalo.

To set the pace for the MBRS, Dr. Lwando Mdleleni, a Senior Researcher and the University of Western Cape delivered a keynote address on “Higher Education partnerships and the Sustainable Development Goals for Developing countries”. The four part address tackled: Higher Education Institutions as catalysts for sustainable development; How to build partnership models to accelerate SDGs; North-South partnerships as reflected in the UNESCO report; and the Role of emerging scholars in advancing SDGs.

The keynote presentation was followed by a panel discussion on SDGs with particular focus on SDG4 (Quality Educaiton) and the role of the youth moderated by UiB alumnus and Senior Gender Officer in the Gender Mainstreaming Directorate, Makerere University, Mr. Eric Tumwesigye. Panelists included; Mr. Theogene Habumugisha a UiB Global Challenges PhD Candidate, Ms. Alicia Barraclough a postdoctoral researcher associated to the University of Bergen UNESCO Chair, Dr. Perpetra Akite one of Uganda’s leading entomologists and Lecturer in the College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), Makerere University and Mr. Jostas Mwebembezi the Fonder, Executive Director and Senior Research Consultant of Rwenzori Center for Research and Advocacy (RCRA).

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Computing & IS

CoCIS to deploy the Smart Bee Monitors in the field in December 2022

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One of the Smart Bee Monitor setups ready for deployment in the first field trials in the field in December 2022 on display at the AdEMNEA Annual Conference held 16th-17th November 2022 in Kampala.

Researchers from Makerere University College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS) have designed the Smart bee Monitor ready to conduct its first trials in the field in December 2022. This is the first time the device will be taken out of the laboratory to test how it performs in monitoring bee hives.

The first deployment is going to take place at the university apiary in Namulonge which will act as the study site for this first prototype, while several others will be stationed in different fruit farms and game parks in East Africa to predict the well-being of bees under different environments.

CoCIS researchers in a collaborative project dubbed, “Adaptive Environment Monitoring Network Africa (AdEMNEA)  revealed this new development during the project 2022 first Annual conference held at Kolping Hotel In Kampala on 16th-17th November 2022. The project commencement in 2021.

Some of the participants attending the first annual conference.
Some of the participants attending the first annual conference.

The Project is funded by NORAD under the NORHED II programme supported for five years with the main emphasis on Southern partners. It builds on past success and results from the WIMEA project which automated weather services funded under the NORHED I framework with several other projects currently funded with NTNU and Makerere as partners.

The partners in the AdEMNEA project are the Norwegian University for Science and Technology as the lead partner and the Southern partners led by Makerere University, the Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology (Tanzania) and the University of Juba (South Sudan). Other partners are the University of Bergen (Norway), the Uganda Meteorological Authority, NaCCRI and NARO. Other partners are the Ministry of Agriculture (MAAIF), The Uganda National Apiary Development Organisation (TUNADO), Research and Education Network for Uganda (RENU) and Fruit / Bee farmers (Nwoya fruit growers cooperative society and Green Zabu Farm).

At Makerere University the project is being led by Dr. Julianne Sansa-Otim with staff from the College of Engineering Design and Art (CEDAT) and the College of Veterinary Medicine Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB).

Speaking during the  annual conference, the Principal Investigator Makerere University Dr. Julianne Sansa-Otim said, they are rolling out an adaptive resilient network infrastructure connectivity where data gathering  instruments in the field can send their data through the internet.

Dr. Julianne Sansa-Otim giving her remarks.
Dr. Julianne Sansa-Otim giving her remarks.

“We are building this network   and we want to contribute to protecting bees and building instruments that will gather data about bees and fruit flies. We are putting in place the smart bee monitor and have designed the first generation that it can gather the data that can help insect scientists to tell the health of the bees and the environment and aspects that are helpful to make conclusions”, Dr. Nsansa said.

Dr. Nsansa stressed that bees are endangered yet they are the biggest pollinators responsible for most of the fruits and vegetables. Bees according to Dr. Nsansa contribute towards biodiversity as other creatures rely on them for existence.

“The challenge is that because of climate change, different human factors and  agro-chemicals, bees are on the decline and becoming extinct. For the remaining bees, we need to find ways of discovering what is affecting them, where do they thrive, which kind of plants do they like.

Most of the wild places where bees used to thrive have been converted into commercial farms and buildings so we need the optimize the smaller spaces remaining for bees”. She added.

She noted that as they investigate and deploy instruments out there, they will establish plants where bees can stay longer and multiply and help to come up with interventions to protect those tree species.

She reported that monitoring insects has traditionally been via manual observation and count by specialists such as entomologists and extension workers going in the bushes yet there are few specialists in Uganda and Africa that makes this method ineffective. In Uganda, it is estimated that there is one entomologist per region with less than eight entomologists in the MAAIF employed to do this work for the entire country.

The deployment of such tools in the field means that one entomologist in one place can be able to gather different data from different places. And because bees are mostly found where there are fruits and vegetables, and, one of the common pests in fruits being fruit flies, the project looked at both pollinators: – the bees which researchers want to protect and multiply and,  fruit flies for  study and destruction.

Fruit flies are known to be the biggest pests affecting mangoes leading to losses and likewise the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Industry and Fisheries that is responsible for monitoring and controlling pests is limited by the number of specialists.

Dr. Agatha Turyagyenda explaining the technology to some of the conference participants.
Dr. Agatha Turyagyenda explaining the technology to some of the conference participants.

Makerere University’s PhD student behind the design of the smart bee monitor  Dr. Agatha Turyagenda said  the goal is  to solve the inefficiencies that come about  with  manual inspections of bee hives  in Uganda which is associated with  less productivity among Ugandan bee farmers.

Studies have shown that world over, the number of bees have declined but no study has been conducted in Uganda as farmers continue to complain about bees absconding to come to bee hives.

A view of the sensors inside the bee hive.
A view of the sensors inside the bee hive.

AdMNEA project researchers are investigating to come up with a solution to combat some of the challenges bee farmers are faced with.

“The smart bee hive has several parameters capturing images and videos, at the entrance of the bee hive and, temperature and humidity as well as carbon dioxide levels inside the bee hive and the weight of the bee hive.

All these parameters are then transferred to a remote website that anyone can be able to see as long as they have internet connectivity. So this can be on a mobile phone or laptop.

In the future we will be able to use the information collected to be able to develop programmes that can tell us which pests and diseases have infected the bee hive, if the queen is absent or present, it can tell us if the bees are preparing to swarm, the honey productivity, the weight module and also indicate  the right time to harvest honey”, Dr. Turyagenda explained

Entomologist Dr. Deborah Ruth Amulen from CoVAB  reported that whereas  bees constitute 70% of the world’s crop pollination, their population has declined due to pesticide application, climate change, land use change and diseases.

Dr. Amulen (L) speaking during the meeting.
Dr. Amulen (L) speaking during the meeting.

Amulen observed that the traditional way of inspecting bee hives is time consuming, requires skills and knowledge, disrupts inside hive micro climate and risk of distributing diseases of bees while useful variables such as temperature, humidity, gases cannot be ascertained hence the need to automate the process.

“For entomologists, the smart bee monitor will help us to know when to harvest honey, when the bees are sick, when the population of bees is down so that we can check the hive and address the problem.

The smart bee hive is one of the common bee hives farmers use but the ICT team has modified it with sensors after which entomologist will populate them with bees and deploy them in fruit farms, university farms and in apiaries near the national parks so that we can compare what is happening in hives and in fruit farms where they spray a lot of chemicals.

We can therefore monitor and tell if the bees will be very sick or dying, whether the production of honey is lower compared to bees that are near national parks and where there is no chemical use near the national parks” Dr. Amulen stated.

Regular manual inspection of fruit fly traps according to Dr. Amulen is also inconvenient, misses out on critical data points such as the phenotype, density, diversity and relationships between variables such as population and weather toward prediction of infestation.

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