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MAK secures NOKS 17 million (about sh.8bn) grant for climate change research and training.

The Norwegian Government has injected over 17million Norwegian Kroners (about shs. 8bn) into the research and training of climate science experts in four universities as a measure to mitigate climate change. 

The money is channelled 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 Vice chancellor's representaive Prof. John Muyonga (3rd from right) and the PI (5th from right) pose for a group photo with participants

The four years project entitled, “Regional Capacity building for Sustainable Natural Resource Management and Agricultural productivity under climate change (CAPSNAC)”, started in January 2014 and is funded through the NORAD program, NORHED. It is being implemented in universities of Makerere, Addis Ababa University, University of Juba and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. 

Speaking at the first research dissemination workshop held in the Senate building at Makerere University on 31st March, 2015, the Principal Investigator Makerere University Prof. Samuel Kyamanywa said the project aim is to strengthen the capacity of universities to address issues to do with climate change, environment and natural resource management. 

The PI Prof. Samuel Kyamanywa (standing) speaking to conference participants. Seated is Hon Wangolo Jacob

Prof. Kyamanywa told participants that the issue of climate change is a new and changing aspect taking scientists by surprise where the participating countries lack experts hence the need to train people to understand it. 

“The training is being conducted at Masters and PhD level. At masters level a total 12 students will be enrolled, and 5 of them have been recruited and 7 remaining. 5 PhDs will be from Southern Sudan, 3 from Uganda and 2 from Addis Ababa” he said. 

The professor said the main focus of the project is to build capacity for Southern Sudan through training people who can have the capacity to handle issues of climate change and natural resource management. Southern Sudan is the youngest country in Africa that has been devastated by conflicts. 

“The other aspect is to prepare farmers through predicting to them the changing weather patterns and designing cropping systems that are resilient to climate change. The project is also supposed to conduct short term trainings on environmental impact assessment and social environmental safeguards for all and adjust the curriculum to incorporate climate science”, he explained. 

A section of the participants listening to presentations

This research project according to Prof. Kyamanywa is concentrating in flood - prone districts of Eastern Uganda taking the course and plains of River Mpologoma catchment areas in Iganga, Mbale and Katakwi. He added that they have already started interviewing farmers to find out what their problems are to guide them in the proposal writing. 

Speaking at the same function, the Chairperson NORHED Institutional Development and Implementation Committee (NIDIC) Prof. Hannington Oryem Origa said the main goal of NORHED program is increased higher education and research capacities in low and medium income countries to enable them provide public and private sector with skilled workforce. 

Prof. Origa encouraged the beneficiaries to produce quality work consumerate with the projects that won the grant and to come up with innovations because they are the heights and desires of any researcher. 

He said this support is driven by demands in low and medium income countries for capacity building through partnerships by encouraging intra regional/ inter regional training and exchanges. Prof. Origa noted with appreciation that while Makerere also needs to strengthen its own capacity in higher education and research, her increased support to Southern Sudan was a noble cause. 

“I am happy to note that this project bringing researchers from four countries together to enhance capacity building. I also note that the focus of the project is capacity building for southern Sudan the youngest country in the region” Prof. Origa said. 

Dr Yazidhi Bamutaze (left in stripped shirt) is assistant coordinator of the project

The chairperson Parliamentary Committee on Natural resources Hon. Jacob Wangolo reminded participants that the scientific fact that global climate change was real is manifested by increased frequency and intensity of extreme green house emissions which will significantly affect food security, natural resources and agricultural productivity. 

He also challenged the public to take the responsibility of restoring the eco systems particularly protecting wetlands other than waiting for government to evict them. 

“The president has been clear and has directed that all houses in the wetlands be demolished but the problem is who will do that....who will be firm to save the wetlands?” he expressed uncertainty. 

While opening the workshop on behalf of the Principal College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the Vice Chancellor Makerere University Prof. John Muyonga said Eastern Africa region has an agricultural led economy with over 80% of its population dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods and development. 

He however observed that Agricultural productivity and natural resources are increasingly facing threats of variable and changing climates, natural resource degradation, decreasing agricultural productivity, increasing human population and poverty levels that are likely to negatively impact social and economic development. 

Prof. Muyonga expressed the university’s commitment to addressing the continental priorities through joint staff capacity building, promotion of best practices in teaching and research, identification of stakeholder needs and leveraging resources and expertise in participating universities. 

“As Makerere University we are committed to addressing the regions challenges through supplying knowledgeable and multi-skilled graduates, as well as providing evidence based solutions to support the formulation of interventions and appropriate policies for accelerating national and regional development”, he said. 

Some of the invited guests to the workshop

He thanked the people and Government of Norway for funding this project and paid special tribute to the Principal Investigators, their teams and international and regional partners especially the Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia), University of Juba (South Sudan) and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (Norway) for this cooperation. 

A PhD student from South Sudan Ms. Suleiman Sauda during poster presentation

Posters for some Small Grants Awardees were also displayed at the workshop

Story compiled by: 
Jane Anyango
Communication Officer, CAES

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