The 2nd CAPSNAC Annual Research Dissemination workshop held in Mbale
Participants pose for a group photograph during after the opening ceremonyat Mbale Resort Hotel
Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) has held the 2nd research dissemination workshop for the project titled, “ Regional Capacity Building for Sustainable Natural Resource Management and Agricultural Productivity under Climate Change (CAPSNAC)”, with a call on public to sustainably manage the environment and stop wetland degradation.
The workshop was held at Mbale Resort Hotel on 28th February, 2017 and attended by farmers , farmer organizations,Chief Administartive officers, Environmental Officers, and District Local Council Chairpersons from the greater Mbale , (Mbale, Kween, Manafwa, Sironko, Kapchorwa, Bulambuli, Bukwo, Soroti, Bududa ) among others.
The workshop was also attended by the Principal, CAES represented by his Deputy, Assoc. Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga, Scientists , staff and Graduate students undertaking a number of research in the Eastern region.
A section of the participants
The four years project started in January 2014 and is funded through the NORAD program, NORHED to the tune of NOKS 17 million (about shs.8bn).The money is channeled through Makerere University (Uganda) as the lead university in collaboration with other three universities of Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), University of Juba (Southern Sudan) and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (Norway).
The project aim is to strengthen the capacity of universities to address issues to do with climate change, environment and natural resource management.
A total of 15 Masters and 5PhD students are being trained and conductiong research on different themes including climate change adaptation, mitigation and risk management, wetland management, increasing agricultural productivity, food and nutrition among others.
The research is being conducted in the Easten region mainly the greater Mbale where most communities were affected by the impacts of climate change like landslides.
Two of the Masters students from South Sudan (Felix Kenyi Tombe and Bul John Ajak)
While opening the workshop, the Resident District Commissioner Mbale District Mr. Shilaku James commended the regional nature of the research and training component for PhD and Masters students as part of the regional integration efforts geared towards addressing issues of climate change, food security, trade, migration and capacity building among others.
The RDC observed that as an agro-based economy where over 70 % of the population grow food and cash crops for their livelihood, Uganda was destined for harsher consequences arising from poor and indiscriminate exploitation of her natural resources.
Mr. Shilaku reported that as a result of deforestation and swamp reclamation, the Eastern region has been hit hard by climate change manifested by change in rainfall patterns, lansdslides, loss of soil fertility, water shortage and inadequate food stocks.
“Climate Change is real. Eastern region had forest cover and a number of wetlands which have been reclaimed and this has resulted in rain failures. In the second season we never got rains, we are just getting the first rains in the first planting season of 2017. We have issues of gender where women are more vulnerable because they have to struggle to look for food and water”, Mr. Shilaku went on to enumerate challenges in the region:
RDC Mbale, Mr. Shilaku James opening the workshop
“We have the issue of land use policy . We settle on our land scattered without any plan which to a certain extent affects mechanized agriculture and irrigation. I implore Makerere University through this research to come up with measures to advice people and government on settlement”, The RDC further reported that:
“People in the rural communities don’t clearly understand climate change. They look at it like a natural happening to the extent that they confront the so called, “rain makers”, for failing rain and at the end of the day harass and beat them. So there is need to go down to the people to raise awareness on the reality of climate change and the factors are very clear - environmental management and aforestation to restore the ecosystem”
The RDC expressed happiness over the project research saying, it was tackling the real issue of Climate Change. As Local government, he said, the district had drawn a strategy and identified all wetlands that have been affected through cultivation and instructed all users to leave immediately.
“We don’t want them to plant in this season. The President's directive is a policy and it is good for mitigation of climate change. I want to sound a warning that those in wetlands in every part of the country should immediately leave the wetlands or else face the law”. The RDC stated.
A section of participants from the Greator Mbale attending the workshop
He was optimistic that the project research will help people understand that climate change is real and help enhance the understanding on the advantages and disadvantages of climate change and contribute towards reconstruction of wetlands and enhance efforts towards ensuring food security.
The Principal Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences represented by his Deputy Assoc. Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga welcomed participants to Makerere University and the college of agriculture in particular.
She said Makerere University is mandated to train, conduct research, generate knowledge and disseminate information to help policy makers make decisions based on evidence.
“Our contribution as Makerere University towards the issue of climate change is that we are mandated as a college to inform the country what should be done, how it should be done and how the country should be responding to impacts of climate change”. Dr. Nabanoga said.
Assoc. Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga addressing the participants
The Principal also said that besides the project research contributing to policy, the college is also mandated to build capacity of her neighbors.
“ As a premiere university, we have the moral obligation to help young nations and our neighbors build their capacities and this is the basis of our collaborations with other universities and the reason why many of the graduate students on this project are from University of Juba form South Sudan”, She said.
Dr. Nabanoga further told participants that as Makerere, the university has responsibility of fostering the development agenda both at national and regional level.
She expressed gratitude to the participant for leaving other important appointments to attend the workshop saying, it was a sign of responsibility and interest in the development of their country.
“I thank you for your commitment and support and working with this project. I thank you for coming together today. I request you to give Makerere a critique of the findings because you are the people living in the real situation and guide us on the way forward”.
The Principal appreciated the Principal Investigator and his team for putting together the project and running it.
Dr. Nabanoga further thanked the people from the Eastern region and their leadership for the continued support accorded to Makerere University to fulfil her outreach mandate and Government of Uganda for the conducive environment enabling the university to execute her mandates.
A section of participant
The Principal Investigator Makerere University Prof. Samuel Kyamanywa told participants that the first research dissemination workshop was held in March 2015 at Makerere University where stakeholders from Mbale had an input into the project activities but this time, they decided to bring the workshop where the project was being implemented.
“The objectives of this workshop is to disseminate results and experiences from the project to the stakeholders; Seek participatory stakeholder input into the implementation of CAPSNAC ; Empower younger research scholars to present their research ideas and; Get guidance from policy makers”. The PI stated
He said the project is being operated in flood - prone districts of Eastern Uganda taking the course and plains of River Mpologoma catchment areas in Iganga, Mbale, Namutumba and Katakwi among others.
Prof. Kyamanywa reported that the project is a North-South, South-South framework involving Makerere University (MAK)-Uganda, Norwegian University of life sciences , University of Juba (UJ) and Addis Ababa (AAU).
“ We do have problems in East Africa and they are similar. 80% of the population depend on agriculture for their livelihoods and development but it is a shame that we are not able to sustain ourselves and still cry of hunger and poverty. The other problem is that the environment is changing and drought, floods have become a common feature with high level of poverty”. The PI said.
PI Prof. Samuel Kyamanywa speaking during the workshop
The Professor observed that the developmental priorities of the three target countries of Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia include; Increasing agricultural productivity as the vehicle for poverty reduction; Sustainable natural resource management for social and economic development and stability; Climate change adaptation and mitigation; Increasing research capacity and extension outreach and: Accelerated national development.
Prof. Kyamanywa said , Higher institutions of learning are expected to contribute to finding of solutions to obviate these development challenges through:- Supplying knowledgeable and multi-skilled graduates and Providing evidence-based options and solutions to support formulation of interventions and appropriate policies for accelerating national and regional development.
“The regionally focused CAPSNAC project is aimed at increasing the relevance of Southern universities (UJ, Mak, and AAU) in addressing national and regional development challenges in environment, natural resource management and climate change with special attention is given to the UJ.” The PI said.
L: Ellen Kayendeke, one of the PhD students duing the workshop
The project according to the PI is to improve the management of natural resources, agricultural productivity, adaptation to climate change and livelihoods in Eastern Africa by enhancing human and institutional capacities of universities to produce dynamic and quality graduates.
“The project is enabling partner institutions to provide innovative teaching, learning, research and outreach services that are responsive to the needs of its clientele . It is also allowing the region to benefit from its young productive population”, Prof. Kyamanywa said.
Key project achievements according to Prof. Kyamanywa include Academic programmes reviewed and strengthened; Staff trained at PhD and postdoctoral levels for institutions; Joint research projects, including joint papers conducted. Others are the Teaching and research laboratories equipped and University of Juba staff trained at Master and Ph.D level (12 M.SC and 10 Ph.D ) .
Prof. Kyamanywa also said that Competence building courses were developed; Text book on natural resource management and Climate Change in Eastern Africa produced and Regional Partnership between institutions in the south strengthened.
The workshop was closed by the LC 5 Chairman Manafwa district Mr. Musira John on behalf of the local governments present. Mr. Musira John also decried the level of environmental degradation saying, what was left in Uganda 60 yeras ago is no more.
Mr. Musira John closing the workshop
He observed that all systems are dying within this millenium and the rate at which they are dying, is faster than before.
Article compiled by:
Communication Officer, CAES