By Harriet Adong
Makerere University faculty, students and administrative staff diversely engaged at the Appropriate Technologies Expo. One of the over 850 multidisciplinary projects funded by the Government of the Republic of Uganda through Makerere University’s Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF) https://rif.mak.ac.ug/ emerged ‘BEST INNOVATION’ (out of 46 showcased innovative solutions) at the Expo. This was Uganda’s Ministry of Water and Environment – Appropriate Technology Centre (ATC) 2023 Expo organized in partnership with Makerere University and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). It was the second Expo held at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds; Thursday February 2nd through Saturday February 4th, 2023 guided by the Theme: “Showcasing Appropriate Technologies that can be adopted to improve health, hygiene, social wellbeing, agriculture and environmental conservation”. Seven projects funded by the Government of the Republic of Uganda through Mak-RIF participated in this Expo.
The Winner and Best Innovation at the Expo is Makerere University’s project titled: Valorization of Waste Chicken Feathers for Water Purification: Designing and Constructing Low-Cost Keratin Based Nanofilters as Adsorbents of Heavy Metals and Nanosized Contaminants (MAK-RIF/CH/02/21). This project is being incubated at Makerere University College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS) under the leadership of Dr. Alice Nabatanzi, the Principal Investigator.
“This is very exciting news, it is evident that innovations start small, just think without the box, explore and leverage readily available resources and put these into use to propose solutions to address community challenges. Thank you so much Government of Uganda for the funding. Thank your Makerere University management for the enabling environment and thank you team at Mak-RIF for the opportunities for us to showcase our solutions. We pledge our best”, said Dr. Nabatanzi. She added that the efforts at hand currently are geared towards scaling the project for wider reach and in saying this she called upon potential partners, donors including the government of Uganda to embrace further supporting such innovative solutions to scale. Other team members include; Mr. Stanley Ofwono, Project Technician and Ms. Irene Achede, Project Administrator. Like other supported project teams, this team is engaging external stakeholders; Mr. Samson Okwir from Ugachick Poultry Breeders Ltd supports project implementation. In addition, mentorship of students is key at a higher learning institution like Makerere University and for this reason Mr. Thomas Wanyama and Tropher Ssali; Bachelor of Science Biotechnology students at CoNAS are team members of this project and they greatly supported at the Expo.
This project developed a keratin-based nanofilter using waste chicken feathers. This is a new technology and one of its kind in Uganda and Africa at large. The project aimed at efficiency and sustainability while promoting a circular economy. The developed filter is able to clean and purify water through removal of micro-organisms, heavy metals and other nano contaminants. The filtered water is safe and ready for use and even drinking. This project purposes to control environmental pollution through recycling of waste chicken feathers as it contributes to improved health, food safety, food security and environmental safety. This project majorly contributes towards SDGs 3, 6, 9, 13.
The second-best Innovation was the Trenching Machine that eases excavation of trenches during laying of water pipes and the third was an application used in the operation and maintenance of a water supply system both by teams from Busitema University. Congratulations!
Other Mak-RIF projects showcased at the Expo include the following;
- Green synthesis of graphene from Agro waste for energy storage devices – Dr. Nobert Mukasa – College of Engineering Design Art and Technology (CEDAT).
- Towards a Food Secure Uganda Under a Changing Climate – Dr. Isaac Mugume, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES).
- Environ e-Watch App for increased community surveillance in environmental monitoring catchment degradation and restoration – Dr. Patrick Musinguzi, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES).
- Functionalized XEROGEL – Carbon Water Filters – Dr. Ibrahim Karume, College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS).
- E-Participatory Innovation Platforms for Improved Access to Forestry Extension Services – Associate Prof. Justine Namaalwa, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES).
- Green Low-Cost Touchless Handwashing Technology (TW-20 Kit) For Public Shared Spaces, Dr. Dr. Joshua Wanyama,College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES). Details about the launch of these kits are shared on https://rif.mak.ac.ug/mak-unveils-a-touchless-handwashing-kit-for-public-shared-spaces-in-response-to-covid-19-pandemic/
Upon receipt of this exciting news, Prof. Fred Masagazi-Masaazi, the Mak-RIF Chairperson Mak-said “Wow, Congratulations to all exhibitors at the just concluded ATC 2023 Expo and specifically to Makerere University’s Dr. Nabatanzi and your project team. I am happy that the adjudicators at the Expo identified this project and recognized it as the ‘BEST INNOVATION’. Indeed, we have many more potentially transformative projects being supported under the Mak-RIF initiative with funding from the Government of the republic of Uganda”. “We are forever grateful to the Government of Uganda for supporting research and innovations at Makerere University. This fund has continued to have spillover effects to other institutions of learning and organizations with whom our researchers and innovators have continued to work” Prof. Masagazi added.
The Appropriate Technologies 2023 Expo was an opportunity for Ministry of Water andEnvironment inpartnership with Makerere University and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to showcase 47 innovative solutions directed towards positively impacting communities in which we live and serve. It was also at this Expo where the general public received various health services including HIV and Aids Counseling and Testing, Vaccination,testing for lifestyle diseases and Safe Male Circumcision etc. from Makerere University Hospital team. The Expo was attended by Members of Parliament, government officials including commissioners and assistant commissioners, private sector, researchers, innovators, entrepreneurs, the Media, Higher Education Institution faculty and students among others. Details about the Appropriate Technology Centre (ATC) are shared on https://atc.mwe.go.ug/
Engineer Christopher Tumusiime, Commissioner of the Water Utility Regulation Department at Uganda’s Ministry of Water and Environment welcomed all participants to the Expo noting that the Expo was an opportunity to showcase water supply, sanitation and environmentally appropriate technologies to spur social economic development in Uganda. “We are using this Expo to show that science and technology can be used to adjust effects of climate change, improve access to safe water, improve data management among others”, Engineer Tumusiime added. He thanked Makerere University Hospital team for providing health services during the Expo. He also thanked Prof. William Bazeyo, the ATC Chairperson for mobilizing Expo participants noting that he was also grateful to the Expo partners for all the support which enabled it to happen.
Mr. Yakubu Al Hassan Kassim, WASH Officer at UNICEF commended all stakeholders for a job well done at the Expo. He noted that the theme was well thought out especially in this error of socio-economic development efforts. “Let us give all these technologies support to scale. UNICEF focusses on sustainability of these technologies because this is authentic for home grown solutions. We are proud to be part of this and please, whenever there is an opportunity, call on us” he added.
Prof. William Bazeyo, the Appropriate Technology Centre Chairperson called upon all stakeholders to support Uganda’s innovations to get into the different markets. He said “Our people in the communities deserve even more especially using some of the simple technologies for example purification of water”. Prof. Bazeyo thanked Hon. Aogon for sparing time to engage with each exhibitor while offering guidance. He requested Hon. Aogon to please take the message to the committee he is leading that what they are looking for is all at the ATC Expo. “One day, Uganda will be a source of what the region requires for example employment of the youth” he added. He also thanked Makerere University and UNICEF for the partnership noting that he is always proud to be part of Makerere University and would continue working with the teams to spur research and innovation.
Honorable Silas Aogon, Uganda’s Member of Parliament for Kumi Municipality, Kumi District and Chairperson Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) graced the expo as Chief Guest. He commended Ugandans who are researching and innovating including those embracing research and innovation. He called upon all to make technology and its aspiration viral. “Let new circles influence upcoming circles to grow technology” he noted. “We need appropriate technologies to save our natural bodies, control pollution, and reduce carbon emission” Hon. Aogon added. He also said that appropriate technologies need to trickle down to the last mile communities and thus the need to continue supporting the growth and development of technology. “On behalf of Government of Uganda, we pledge to continue supporting technology growth in Uganda and beyond. Let us all accord technology and innovation a priority so that we all benefit in one way or another” he said. He applauded the two Professors; Prof. William Bazeyo, the ATC Chairperson and Prof. Sylvia Nannyonga Tamusuza, Chairperson Makerere University Grants Administration and Management Unit and Head of Department Makerere University Department of Performing Arts and Film who joined in the Expo. He also appreciated the Makerere University Department of Performing Arts and Film for entertaining the Expo participants noting that when people sing properly then one is able to even work properly. He concluded by noting that by the time someone carries out research by him or herself, then that is a calling from God and may God continue to bless all researchers and innovators.
This Expo was also livestreamed online
Day 1 of the Expo – Follow the engagement on https://www.youtube.com/live/LI2z4hKCWvA?feature=share
Contributor: Dr. Alice Nabatanzi, Project Principal Investigator
Mak Paves Path to Biodiversity Leadership: Inaugural ABS Project Workshop Strengthening Uganda’s Nagoya Protocol Capacity
By Laban Lwasa
In a groundbreaking event that unfolded at Makerere University‘s Telepresence Center on November 7, 2023, the Inception Workshop for the ABS Project took center stage, hosted by the College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), Department of Plant Sciences, Microbiology, and Biotechnology. Prof. Tumps Ireeta, Principal of CoNAS, set the tone with a warm welcome, highlighting Uganda’s rich biodiversity and the pivotal role of the Nagoya Protocol in ensuring the legal utilization of genetic resources. The collaboration between NEMA and Makerere University, supported by the GEF, aims to equip professionals with ABS knowledge and position Makerere at the forefront of Nagoya Protocol compliance.
Prof. Arthur Kajungu Tugume, Dean of the School of Biosciences, emphasized the project’s significance in institutional capacity strengthening for the Nagoya Protocol’s implementation in Uganda, showcasing the School of Biosciences as a hub for genetic resource research and training. The pilot project, in collaboration with NEMA, GEF, and UNEP, aims to expand countrywide and potentially across the African continent. It seeks to empower a skilled workforce informed on ABS issues, contributing to economic development and poverty eradication as aligned with SDG 1.
Mr. Achuu Peter, Project Manager from NEMA, highlighted Uganda’s extraordinary biodiversity and the need to explore the benefits of genetic resources for medicines, food, and more. He emphasized the importance of the Nagoya Protocol in mitigating biodiversity loss and highlighted challenges faced by Uganda in terms of weak institutional capacity, inadequate policies, and lack of coordination for ABS. The project focuses on strengthening ABS frameworks, capacity building, community-level management, and raising awareness to ensure equitable benefits from genetic resource utilization.
Mr. Daniel Abowe, UNCST ABS Project Officer, shed light on the complex landscape of national ABS laws in Uganda, resulting in legal complexity and high transaction costs for users. He also detailed the Uganda research approval process, emphasizing UNCST’s role in ABS implementation, which includes issuing access permits and ensuring benefit-sharing agreements. The multifaceted project aims to align Uganda with the Nagoya Protocol’s goals and foster collaboration between higher institutions and local communities for the management of genetic resources.
Dr. Katuura Esther, the Project Principal Investigator at Makerere University, highlighted the institution’s pivotal role in training and research. Makerere University aspires to be a thought leader, committed to providing transformative teaching, learning, research, and services that cater to dynamic national and global needs. The institution’s strategic goals encompass leadership in high-quality programs, knowledge dissemination, research, scholarship promotion, and corporate social responsibility. Dr. Esther also addressed the challenges and opportunities in preserving indigenous knowledge, emphasizing the role of digital technologies and collaboration between research institutions and local communities.
The programs designated for updating at Makerere University are a comprehensive effort to align with the Nagoya Protocol. Notable among these programs are BSc Applied and Economic Botany, BSc in Conservation Biology, Bachelor of Biotechnology, Masters in Botany, Masters in Genetics, Masters in Plant Pathology and Crop Science, and Masters in Economic Botany. This holistic approach aims to contribute to the conservation and equitable utilization of genetic resources.
Dr. Cyprian Misinde, the Director of Quality Assurance at Makerere University, emphasized the importance of incorporating international and global standards into the academic curriculum. He underscored the crucial role of projects like ABS in enhancing the capacity of professionals and equipping them to become part of a globally competitive workforce. This workshop marked a significant stride in Uganda’s journey towards sustainable biodiversity management and conservation, creating a ripple effect that extends far beyond its borders, leaving a lasting impact on the world stage.
Laban Lwasa is the Senior Administrative Assistant, Makerere University, Grants Administration and Management Support Unit (GAMSU)
Ugandan student Dorothy Akoth wins 2023 GBIF Graduate Researchers Award
Ms. Dorothy Akoth, a Master’s student at the College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), Makerere University has been named one of two winners of the 2023 GBIF Graduate Researchers Award. An expert jury selected Akoth, who was nominated by the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology together with National Fisheries Resources Research Institute (NaFIRRI), for the instrumental role of her research in improving the knowledge of the distribution and imperilment status of 110 native fish species outside the iconic Haplochromine tribe of East African cichlids. The student was supervised by Prof. Fredrick Muyodi and Dr. Jackson Efitre
from the Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences at CoNAS, Makerere University, and Dr Vanny Natugonza of Busitema University.
Since its inception in 2010, the annual GBIF Graduate Researchers Award (previously the Young Researchers Award) has sought to promote and encourage innovation in biodiversity-related research using data shared through the GBIF network.
CARTA Fellow Anywar Selected as Fellow of ASLP
Godwin Anywar (cohort 6 graduate, Makerere University) was selected as a fellow of the Africa Science Leadership Programme (ASLP) based at the Future Africa Campus at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, on September 8, 2023.
Within the month, he:
- Will be participating in the Uganda-Swiss Museum Cooperation Workshop from September 24 – October 4, 2023, in Kampala, Uganda, and will present on ‘Traditional Medicine in Transition.’
- Presented a keynote paper on ‘Mental Health and Wellbeing during the PhD Journey’ at the Makerere University Business School (MUBS) 27th Annual International Management Conference (AIMC) under the theme “Leveraging Governance, Human Capital and Technology for Sustainability in Kampala – Uganda on September 25 – 27, 2023.
- Presented a paper on ‘The Cannabis/Marijuana (Cannabis sativa L.) Landscape in Africa: An Overview of its Cultivation and Legal Aspects’ at the 20th International Napreca Conference on Natural Network for East and Central Africa (NAPRECA) in Harare, Zimbabwe on September 20, 2023.
- Attended the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Science Forum at the University of Nairobi on September 20, 2023, to celebrate 50 years of DAAD in East Africa.
Source: CARTA Newsletter Issue 69
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