The International Conference on Geographical Science for Resilient Communities, Ecosystems and Livelihoods Under Global Environmental Change (GORILLA) seeks to contribute to the realization of the Global Development Agenda 2030 and the AU Agenda 2063.
The resilience of ecological and social systems has gained heightened attention globally and are at the center of the United Nations Global Development Agenda 2030 manifesting in; (a) the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets, (b) the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, 2015-2030 with its four priorities and 7 targets, (c) the Paris Agreement geared at keeping temperature within the 1.5 º-2 ºC threshold.
Substantial efforts by the global community have been variously invested in resilience building and sustainable systems in light of multiple exposures and threats. But huge gaps and challenges still remain that compromise realizing the desired goals. The effects of the global financial crisis, existing geo-political tensions and the emergence of COVID19 altered the resilience trajectory with new dimensions in health, natural resources and poverty. Moreover, recent events exemplified by record temperatures registered in several countries but most notably in the UK, the increasing frequency and magnitude of hydrometeorological hazards as witnessed in Uganda, the increasing loss of biodiversity (>1,000,000 species lost) as recently reported by Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) have heightened the need for urgent interventions that protect vulnerable societies. A consequence of these processes coupled with other factors including but not limited to land use and land cover conversions, rapid urbanization, is that mixed progress has been registered in realizing the sustainability targets for 2030 (https://sdg-tracker.org) with Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) countries posting dismal progress. Uganda currently ranks 136/163 in SDG performance with an SDG Index Score of 53.5 (https://dashboards.sdgindex.org/profiles/uganda). Contextual knowledge creation and utility coupled with harnessing evolving and emerging technology are critical ingredients in building sustainable and resilience pathways and systems which the Global Sustainability Agenda aspired to achieve.
The 2nd GORILLA Conference
The 2ndGORILLA Conference organized by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), Makerere University, and the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) sought to make a contribution to the realization of the Global Development Agenda 2030 and the AU Agenda 2063 by addressing two fundamental questions; (1) “how science, research and the academia can contribute to the expedited achievement of global targets and resolve societal challenges? (2) how local, regional and international partnerships as well as interactions between science, policy and practice can enhance the delivery and achievement of the global development targets?
The conference held on 8th-9th December 2022 at Protea Hotel in Kampala was coordinated by Prof. Yazidhi Bamutaze, Associate Professor in the Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Climatic Sciences, also Deputy Principal, CAES (Chair), and Dr Jerome S. Lugumira, Natural Resources Manager (Soil and Land Use), NEMA (Co-Chair). Sponsored by UNESCO, Biodiversity Foundation, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, NORAD, UK Research and Innovation, BRAC Uganda, ARUA Water Centre of Excellence (CoE), and the Regional Centre for Mapping Resources for Development (RCMRD), the conference was attended by eminent scholars, researchers, representatives from the government and civil society organizations, and policy makers.It was presided over by the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Hon. Dr. Monica Musenero Masanza, and graced by the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Finance and Administration, Prof. Henry Alinaitwe; the representative of the Executive Director, NEMA, Dr Daniel Babikwa; the Principal of CAES, Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga; and the Dean, School of Forestry, Environmental and Geographical Sciences, Prof. Fred Babweteera.
The conference featured a number of keynote speeches and presentations in relation to nature-based systems in mitigating Hydro-Meteorological hazards and disasters; climate smart agriculture for sustainable resilience; land degradation; migration and displacement; water management; biogeography, biodiversity and ecosystem conservation; and the future of smart cities and urban systems in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Prof. Tonny J. Oyana, Principal College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS), Makerere University, also GIS and Spatial Analysis expert shared insights on optimizing biodiversity data science for societal benefits in developing countries. Dr Joy Obando, an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at Kenyatta University delivered a presentation on building climate resilient communities and ecosystems in Sub Saharan Africa, whereas Dr Justine Namaalwa, an Associate Professor and Head, Department of Environmental Management at Makerere University addressed participants on the significance of optimizing green assets as a pathway to achieving the global development agenda. In her remarks, Prof. Namaalwa emphasized the need to preserve nature.
“Compromise nature then you fall on the targets of the Global Development Agenda.There is need to take stock of our natural assets and reflect on their value. If we are to continue with the mantra of no one should be left behind, there should be national ownership over the development process. We also need to adopt informal and formal knowledge systems,and embrace citizen science as well as global partnerships,” she explained.
Prof. Jan Ketil from the Department of Geography, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) briefed participants on the geography of disaster risk and participatory risk management, sharing insights on harnessing sensors and geospatial technology for disaster risk management. Dr Samuel Partey from UNESCO Regional Office in Nairobi, Kenya highlighted the significance of biosphere reserves in building resilient ecosystems and societies. Dr Partey is the youth focal person for science, and the evaluation focal point for UNESCO’S Oversight Unit at the Office in Nairobi.
In his presentation, Prof. Heiko Baltzer from the University of Leicester, UK called for improved satellite earth observation as a measure to strengthen forest governance and livelihood resilience in Africa.
The conference also featured a panel discussion on a number of topical issues in regard to Sustainable Development Goals (SDG); research and policy formulation; building resilient communities;prioritization of resilience in government planning and budgeting;factors undermining innovativeness; and the use of geoinformation in the quest to achieve sustainable development. Discussants included Hon. Dr. Magolo John Faith, Member of Parliament Bungokho County North and member of the Parliamentary Committee on Climate Change; Mr. Othieno Odoi, Senior Planner, Trade and Tourism at the National Planning Authority; Ms. Celia Nalwadda, Senior Research Officer, Uganda National Academy of Sciences (UNAS); Ms. Hellen Aketch, Project Manager BRAC Uganda; and Dr Anastasia Wahome, Lead, Science/Data at the Regional Centre for Mapping Resources for Development, Nairobi.
In his submission,Hon. Magolo informed participants that Parliament had passed the National Environment Act, 2019and the National Climate Change Act, 2021 to fast track the implementation of SDG 13 (Climate Action). Brac Project Manager, Ms. Hellen Aketch called for strengthened partnerships between universities and industry for increased uptake of research and sustainability of innovations. Ms. Anastasia Wahome emphasized the importance of geoinformation in disaster planning and management, whereas Dr Othieno Odoi from National Planning Authority noted that checks had been put in place to ensure issues regarding resilience, climate change, gender, and environment are catered for before government plans and budgets are passed. The discussion was moderated by Dr Patrick Byakagaba, a Lecturer in the Department of Environmental Management, CAES, Makerere University.
Remarks by the Minister – Hon. Dr. Monica Musenero Masanza
In her remarks, the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Hon. Dr. Monica Musenero Masanza urged Africans to embrace technology development as a measure to foster socio-economic transformation on the Continent. “Science contributes 50% to our national development. However, we haven’t done much to embrace technology development. We are blindly technology consumers, mainly relying on imports which makes it hard for us to achieve sustainable development. Africans should stop delegating thinking and work towards developing their own technology. We need to stop thinking of ourselves as consumers of technology and work on educating a thinking generation that can develop our own technology. Universities have done well but I encourage them to change their mindset and focus more on developing technology. We cannot afford as a country, in this new dispensation of green energy economies, post COVID19, and the future as envisioned in Vision 2040, to remain dependent on imported technology. We need to be more innovative,” she advised.
In line with the conference, the Minister emphasized the importance of geospatial tools in conserving ecosystems. Highlighting the significance of geography in developing the mobility industry, the Minister called for development of newer construction technologies. “The continued use of soil and stones in construction will lead to deformation of the ecology,” she noted.
Addressing participants, the Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Finance and Administration, Prof. Henry Alinaitwe decried the continued depletion of ecosystems.“Climate change resulting from the continued destruction of ecosystems has led to erratic weather conditions with severe consequences for humanity. Because of erratic weather conditions, we cannot have good produces in terms of food and we are likely to have long spells of hunger. Achieving resilient and sustainable livelihoods requires continued research and invention of technologies to address challenges of climate change. It is gratifying that this conference seeks to address many of these challenges,” he noted.
The Principal, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga reiterated the need to build resilient communities and ecosystems for improved livelihoods. “Through research, we are looking for ways of improving community resilience in order to have sustainable ecosystems for improved livelihoods. This conference serves as a platform for us to share experiences in the different ecosystem research areas and best practices in trying to curb climate change. Climate change is real and a lot has to be done. We need to re-adjust the way we do things. There are practices we have come up with in relation to our day to day activities like water conservation and soil management that will help us combat some of the hazards resulting from climate change, and at this conference, we are focusing on climate smart agriculture. As a country, we purpose to move from substance climate smart agriculture to an income-oriented climate smart agriculture,” she said.The Principal also noted that the College was committing more efforts towards achieving the sustainable development goals. “As a country, we committed to having an input to achieving the SDGs.At this conference, we are emphasizing our intention and being very proactive in ensuring that we tackle the SDGs, putting it in mind that we have only 8 years to hit our target.As researchers, we are purposing to make contribution to the realization of all SDGs, with special focus on Goal 1 that seeks to alleviate poverty.”
Addressing participants, the Chair of the Organizing Committee, Prof. Yazidhi Bamutaze said the conference presented a great opportunity for conceptual, empirical and theoretical discourse on pressing sustainability and resilience issues. “The GORILLA conference serves as a platform for bridging the science-policy-practice gaps and deriving actionable and policy-oriented measures that can potentially transform societies,” he noted. He said a special publication had been planned with the African Geographical Review (AGR) journal in commemoration of Mak@100. He expressed gratitude to the sponsors of the conference and the local organizing committee.
Delivering his remarks, the Head, Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Climatic Sciences, Makerere University, Prof. Mugagga Frank appreciated the sponsors of the conference and the participants for committing time and resources to address issues crucial for sustainable management of ecosystems and livelihoods. He also appreciated the International Geographical Union (IGU) for its support towards the Uganda Geographical Association. “We profoundly thank IGU, through Prof. Michael Meadows for supporting us when we petitioned against the merger of the Bachelor of Geographical Sciences with Meteorology and Environmental Sciences at Makerere University. The petition was successful and the programmes were left as distinct disciplines,” he noted. Prof. Mugagga is the President of the Uganda Geographical Association, an organization that works to develop professional geographers with knowledge and skills to effectively address global environmental challenges. The Association conducts research on pertinent issues affecting humanity such as climate change adaptation and mitigation, landslides, floods, soil erosion and sedimentation, land degradation, regional development, ecosystems management, urbanization, population growth and development, water scarcity and food security. The Association also holds periodic retooling courses for geography teachers and other civil servants. Prof. Mugagga congratulated Prof. Yazidhi Bamutaze upon being elected IGU Vice President for Africa.
In his closing remarks, Dr Jerome S. Lugumira, Natural Resources Manager (Soil and Land Use), NEMA said government was committed to the use of science in fostering national development. He reiterated the power of networking in trying to address global development challenges and urged researchers to actively engage policy makers in their projects.
Pre-conference hackathon and training
Satellite Earth Observation (EO) provides a wide range of environmental data information which is key to the effective planning and monitoring of the environment. In this regard, the College held a three-day pre-conference hackathon on geospatial-based cloud computing for biodiversity and ecosystem resilience with the aim of engaging early career scientists, researchers and practitioners with diverse backgrounds to foster collaboration in the use of geospatial technology and earth observation to address sustainable development issues, especially on biodiversity and ecosystem resilience.
The College also held a three-day training on optimizing emerging geospatial technologies in evaluating climate change impacts on vegetation. Vegetation resources in tropical Africa are under increasing threat both from climate change and a spate of anthropogenic activities. Yet a substantial proportion of livelihoods in Africa is linked to environment and natural resources. Thus, the need for improved monitoring to ensure integrity and resilience of vegetation resources and ecosystems is apparent in line with the goals and tenets of the Global Development Agenda 2030. Geospatial technologies occupy a vintage position in monitoring, analysis and overall resilience building. The training aimed to, 1) equip participants with emerging tools and technologies that can be harnessed in analyzing climate change impacts on vegetation and ecosystems, 2) build an ecosystem of champions to propel the utility of geospatial technology, 3) to improve the ecosystem and vegetation resilience to climate change.
The trainings were coordinated by Dr Daniel Waiswa from the School of Forestry, Environmental and Geographical Sciences, Makerere University; and conducted by Dr Allan Mazimwe from the Department of Geomatics and Land Management, College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT), Makerere University; Dr Bernard Barasa from the Department of Geography, Kyambogo University; and Mr. Thomas Enuru from the School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-Engineering, CAES.
Details on the 1st GORILLA Conference at: https://news.mak.ac.ug/2020/12/the-1st-international-gorilla-conference-opens-at-mak/
Please see below for conference documents.
GORILLA Keynote Presentation_Dr. Samuel Tetteh Partey, UNESCO: https://doc-0s-58-docs.googleusercontent.com/docs/securesc/b07ld2tllpi647jp9b09m7chohgqnct1/tv2v4ikl813e11s5vhhkmrlatg2j282v/1670919975000/13459373403972771569/11467171637526004956/14Vc2iWRxryo_MNXMxq0I_dLBYocO7O34?e=download&authuser=0
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.
General1 week ago
Application Forms for Admission to Public Universities 2024/2025
General2 weeks ago
African Universities urged on developing comprehensive safeguarding policies with critical elements of safety & protection
Agriculture & Environment1 week ago
Soybean Breeders Deliberate Strategies for Improving Productivity
General6 days ago
Scholars & Alumni of Mastercard Foundation light up Achukudu Community, Napak District
Engineering, Art & Tech1 week ago
Innovations using low cost locally available materials for point of use water treatment system unveiled