Makerere University launches the first Centre of Excellence in Waste Management in Uganda
- Centre established with support from Sida, AU/EU,GoU through Bank of Uganda and Makerere University
- 10 PhDs trained and a number of publications produced
- State- of -the -art equipment secured
- Centre to be used to train farmers how to sort, compose, make biogas and set up demonstration plots on how to use agricultural waste.
Makerere University College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences has officially opened the first Centre of Excellence in Waste Management in Uganda at the Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute Kabanyolo. The Centre is to be used to train farmers on how to sort, compose, make biogas and set up demonstration plots on how to use agricultural waste.
The centre was established with support from Sida, the African Union (AU) European Union (EU),Government of Uganda through Bank of Uganda and Makerere University. The state- of –the- equipment has been secured for the centre. These equipment worth $ USD 48,000 from UK, Switzerland, , Italy, Singapore, USA and China include:
- Incubators (will help in culturing samples under controlled temperature
- Oven ( for dying samples)
- Biogas analyzer ( for analyzing components in biogas)
- Microscope (observation of specimens)
- Centrifuges ( aid separation of liquid samples)
- Spectrophotometer ( analyzing of micronutrients in soil and water)
- Laboratory balance (for weighing samples)
- PH meter ( determining acidity and alkalinity of different samples of soil and water)
- Cooled incubator) for culturing and can vary temperature-low system organisms)
- Bio gas (portable solar biogas digester)
The centre was launched by the Swedish Ambassador to Uganda H.E. Per Lindgarde as Chief Guest on Friday 17th February 2017 under the theme, “Investing in Waste for a Green Future”. The function was also graced by the Vice Chancellor Makerere University Prof. John Ddumba SSentamu and Vice Chancellor Bishop Stuart University and the Secretary for Research at the Swedish Embassy Dr. Gity Behravan. Others were the Principal CAES, Prof. Bernard Bashaasha, the Director DGRT Prof. Mukadasi Buyinza, and Dr. David Owinyi and other university staff.
The initiative was championed by Prof. Elly N Sabiiti with support from the Swedish International Development Aid (Sida) and other funders including Bank of Uganda, Makerere University, African Union and European Union.
The main objective is to become a centre of innovative research and technology development utilizing bio waste (agricultural/ organic wastes) in enhancing sustainable agricultural production and a healthy environment.
Specifically the centre will optimize and promote compositing of biodegradable waste for improved agricultural production; Develop livestock feed protocols based on market crop waste; Develop bio gas technologies for use by small scale households; offer training, knowledge sharing and advisory services in waste management and create linkages with the private sector in technology development.
The centre will also promote the adoption and diffusion of viable waste utilization technologies and products through use of incubation facilities; promote regional and international research collaborations and linkages and create community awareness and training through linkages.
While opening the centre, the Swedish Ambassodor to Uganda H.E. Per Lindgarde said Sweden is a global frontrunner in the energy and environment sectors offering state – of- the -art technologies and services.
The Ambassador said, being a leading nation in waste management including waste-to-energy systems, Sweden imports almost one million tons of waste garbage from nearby countries to use as fuel.
“More than 90% of household waste is recycled. In total, the waste-to-energy plants produce electricity to about 250,000 private households and provide heating to about 810,000 households”, he said.
Ambassador Per Lindgarde reported that the Swedish collaboration with Uganda was initiated in 2000 with the objective of promoting research and research training and to develop sustainable institutional capacity in an effort to strengthen higher education and autonomous university system within the framework of national policies and plans.
He underscored the importance of research in production of new knowledge and driver for innovation and economic development. He described the Sweden and Uganda collaboration as fruitful bringing the relevancy of research to the forefront.
“The creation of this centre is a spin-off of the Swedish –Makerere collaboration and cooperation between the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the Swedish Agriculture University (SLU) in Uppsala. This is a result of locally produced knowledge as a response to local needs in developing new techniques for sustainable agriculture production system through ecological resource management and value addition”. The ambassador remarked.
The ambassador told participants that waste accumulation causes significant health and environmental problems in Kampala city and many other cities in Uganda. He expressed hope that the centre’s activities will contribute to both handling of organic waste in Kampala city and transform the agricultural sector.
The Vice Chancellor Makerere University Prof. John Ddumba-Ssentamu observed that Waste Management has become a global challenge at all levels of society both in the home and in the public space, especially the emerging cities in developing countries.
The Vice Chancellor said the centre was the outcome of an initial research project on the utilization of urban market crop wastes in crop/livestock production systems, which was funded by Sida/SAREC between 2000 and 2005.
In 2007, the Professor Ddumba reported that the idea to establish the Centre was conceptualised by Prof. Elly Sabiiti and was supported by the Sida/SAREC Faculty Steering Committee. To support the process the VC added that the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), incorporated the operationalisation of the Centre in its strategic plan 2010-2015, in collaboration with Swedish Partners.
On behalf of University Management, the VC extended appreciation to the Embassy of Sweden in Uganda and the Royal Government of Sweden for supporting Makerere University to fulfill its mandate.
“We are therefore very proud to be the first ever Centre of Excellence in Waste Management in Uganda, following over 15 years of research on waste management”. The VC went on to say that:
“Since 2000 to date, Sida has supported us through three phases to produce eight (8) PhD academic staff and over ten (10) Senior Scientists specializing in Waste Management and Utilization as well as lab equipment, chemicals and computers. Several scientific publications on the subject have been produced, thereby contributing to generation of new knowledge. We have further established a strong international network in Waste Management”.
He described the day’s occasion as a climax of several efforts, which have been tirelessly applied as an investment in waste management and; the essence of the day’s theme “Investing in Waste for a Green Future”.
The VC acknowledged the support through an AU/EU funded project in the College of Natural Sciences towards equipment for the Centre launched, the Government, through Bank of Uganda for funding some activities of the Centre and all different partners whose continuing support enabled the university to reach this far.
Prof. John Ddumba- Ssentamu told participants that the Makerere University Center of Excellence in Waste Management will be a hub of innovative research and technology development utilising bio waste with the goal of enhancing sustainable agricultural production and a healthy environment, and will strengthen linkages with the private sector through technology incubation and dissemination efforts.
“The centre will further support the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goal 2 that seeks to establish ssustainable best practice technologies including among other things, low-carbon energy (clean energy) systems, sustainable food systems, and sustainable urban areas including resilience in the face of growing hazards.” The VC stated.
The VC also congratulated Prof.Elly Sabiiti, Coordinator of the Centre, as well as the entire Team in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, for undertaking such a commendable endeavor that makes Makerere University proud.
“Your Excellency, it is our expectation that the Makerere University Centre of Excellence in Waste Management will fulfil its purpose as specified, towards ensuring a green future in Uganda. I welcome you once again to this occasion and thank all the different partners including Government of Sweden/Sida, Government of Uganda/Bank of Uganda and the AU/EU for helping Makerere University achieve this milestone as the first ever Centre of Excellence in Waste Management in Uganda”.
The Director, Directorate of Research and Graduate Training Makerere University Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi observed that society was increasingly concerned with the environmental consequences of all activities and the dependence on groundwater, the delicate balance of the ecosystem and the economic importance of agriculture which provide ample reason to establish the Waste Management Centre to demonstrate and use the best management practices to handle wastes.
Prof. Buyinza also noted that challenges to society today were increasingly becoming more complex in a world that is experiencing the effects of poor waste management, climate change, energy shortage concerns, natural disasters, food insecurity, human rights abuses as well as emerging and re-emerging health-related epidemics among others.
“Being the premier academic institution in Uganda, Makerere University has responded proactively by establishing the Centre of Excellence in Waste Management. This is envisaged to be the major source of various home-grown innovations and technologies that will help contribute to the transformation of our society”, The Director said adding that:
“In the past, many of these ground-breaking innovations and technologies have been hatched through the Sida bilateral research programme. Our work through the Sida research programme has contributed to the enhancement of Makerere University’s visibility and performance, thereby positioning Makerere University at the forefront of the global knowledge economy. We therefore thank Sida for being a strategic partner to human resource capacity building in this country, Prof. Buyinza said.
Prof. Buyinza said Makerere University and Uganda in general has continued to enjoy the generosity of the Royal Government and people of Sweden through the Uganda-Sweden research.
“In this complex reality, it is heart warming to report that over the 16 years of collaboration, the Swedish government has invested 515 million SEK (USD$ 73 million) into Uganda’s graduate training and scientific environments in these universities – the main recipient being Makerere University” , Prof. Buyinza reported.
As researchers, Prof. Buyinza said, there is no doubt that agricultural activities both absorb and produce “greenhouse” gases. Gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide block the escape of heat energy and produce a warming trend in the earth’s atmosphere. Crop growth according to Prof. Buyinza requires carbon dioxide while animal production and vehicle operation emit carbon dioxide.
He said the university was mindful that improved treatment, handling and utilization of manure offers the greatest potential for the reduction of these gases from agricultural sources.
In future, Prof. Buyinza said the university intends to build local capacity to conduct research on all the activities and actions required to manage waste from its inception to its final disposal at the centre. This will include amongst other things, collection, transport, treatment and disposal of waste together with monitoring and regulation.
“It is within our strategic vision that the Waste Management centre will handle all kinds of waste, whether generated during the extraction of raw materials, the processing of raw materials into intermediate and final products, the consumption of final products, or other human activities, including municipal (residential, institutional, commercial), agricultural, and social (health care, household hazardous waste, sewage sludge). We are concerned that all our efforts in waste management will result in the reduction of the adverse effects of waste on health, the environment or aesthetics”, Prof. Buyinza enumerated.
The Director reported that agriculture is the largest contributor of any resource sector, to the economy of Uganda and; is also a large generator of waste materials. This centre according to Prof Buyinza will provide a practical guide to help the agricultural community continue to be more environmentally responsible and gain maximum return from their waste resources.
He arged the Centre management team to quickly institute the waste management practices that focus on putting into practice the principles of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recover .
The Principal Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Prof. Bernard Bashaasha expressed happiness for the time and generosity of the ambassador and the people of Sweden for forfeiting their taxes to the centre. He also thanked Prof. Elly Sabiiti for being the vision bearer and all colleagues that have been part of this initiative.
Prof. Bashaasha also pledged to put the centre and the equipment to good use saying, a lot of tips had been taken into consideration during the tour and interaction to ensure sustainability of the centre and safety of the equipment.
‘This kind of initiative requires partnerships and we shall endeavor to bring different partners on board. These include government and policy makers and the private sector.”
The Principal reported that the country was experiencing funny weather and hoped that deniers of climate change had begun accepting that climate change was real.
“Our contribution to climate change as humans has been through cutting forests tremendously. 60% of the rural households depend on firewood. Uganda used to have 45% of her land as forest cover but it has been reduced now to 8% and hence the problems are becoming more serious”, Prof. Bashaasha reported adding that:
We have 57,000 villages in Uganda. If the university could interest government to have one biogas bio digester per village, this could help reduce dependence on wood fuel. We can identify locations of say 10 pilot villages and see how it works to save the villages”, The Principal proposed.
The Makerere University vision bearer and Coordinator of the Waste Management Centre Prof. Elly N Sabiiti said the Makerere University Center of Excellence in Waste Management is the first initiative in the University and in Uganda.
“ We are very proud to be the first in this effort recognizing the critical challenges of garbage accumulation and disposal with antecedent diseases, environmental pollution and increased greenhouse gases that precipitate climate change”, The Center coordinator said.
Prof. Sabiiti said agricultural waste accumulation and the inadequate disposal practices in urban areas in developing countries were creating socio-economic, health, environmental and pollution problems and hence the utilization/recycling of these agricultural waste offer a cost-effective waste management strategy.
“ Organic waste of crop origin form 87% of the 1,800 metric tons of wastes dumped in markets in Kampala city daily. If properly processed, the market crop wastes could be a resources in the livestock and crop production systems; as animal feed or as soil replenishment inputs respectively”, said Prof. Sabiiti.
He narrated how he conceived the idea of research and the centre while he was living in Katalemwa housing estate from 1985-2005 when he could inhale foul air from Kitezi dumping site.
“I discovered that the fowl smell was coming from kitezi dumping site which I visited to confirm. What I found was shocking and terribly unhygienic for the surrounding communities but some people were engaged in sorting plastics, paper bags etc which they later sold. Below the dump was a stream that was being polluted,” he narrated.
He said he initiated a series of projects in 2000-2014 in urban waste and; after realizing the importance of waste management and associated problems and having built a capacity at PhD level (8) staff coupled with international collaboration, he conceptualized the idea of forming a centre of excellence in waste management which was supported by the Sida/Sarec.
“ The establishment of the Centre of Excellence in Waste management is a strategy to retain and maintain the high capacity (8PhD) built from phase I, II and III of Sida support and also a realization of the nation to have a central centre where research information can inform policy on bio waste management and utilization”, Prof. sabiiti said.
He said the Vision is to be a centre of excellence in knowledge and technology generation for sustainable agricultural development and environmental health while the Mission is to produce quality human capacity for research, training, innovation and outreach in waste management for wealth creation in agriculture and environment.
Report compiled by.
Communication Officer, CAES.