Prof. Joyce Kikafunda Receives Nestle Nutrition Institute in Africa Award (NNINA) 2012
On 23rd October 2012, Prof. Joyce Kikafunda from the School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio engineering received the Nestle Nutrition Institute Africa Award (NNINA 2012) for her unique and very effective project in Uganda “Informed Nutrition and Agriculture (GINA) sponsored by USAID Washington.
The colourful ceremony” was held at Speke Resort and Conference centre Munyonyo and presided over by Chairperson National Planning Authority, Dr. Kisamba Mugerwa under the theme, “Maternal and Child Nutrition: The First 1000 Days”.
The GINA model is a community based strategy that addressed the immediate and underlying causes of malnutrition namely food insecurity, poor caring practices and poor health, for the purpose of reducing underweight among children below 5 years of age.
The model, aimed at strengthening the linkages between agriculture and nutrition for positive nutrition outcomes through advocacy, capacity building and empowering local communities with knowledge and skills about best practices for child feeding, child care and growth promotion, taking into account the role of health, education and gender.
Prof. Joyce Kikafunda
This two year projected funded by USAID was headed by Prof. Joyce Kikafunda from 2007 – 2007 in the districts of Kabale, Kanungu and Rukungiri. The model which is being targeted for upscaling contributed greatly to the reduction of malnutrition in more than 4000 children below 5 years of age.
In response to staff congratulatory messages, Prof. Kikafunda described the award as befitting, “ The GINA project has resulted into major programs which will improve the livelihoods of our rural populations. It is befitting that we be honoured for the sacrifice we put in. Since this Award has some funds attached, at an appropriate time, we should all celebrate it at School or even College level” She said.
According to the nominators recommendation signed on October 2, 2012, Prof. Kikafunda’s nomination was based on reason that she contributed significantly to the development of the Uganda Nutrition and Food Policy, the Uganda Nutrition Action Plan 2011-2016 and the development of a very successful community nutrition program that has become a national model.
In answering the question why they believed Prof. Kikafunda should win the award, one of the nominators commented, “Being the first professor in nutrition in the country; high in assisting and mentoring others in Nutrition and a model for young nutritionists in Uganda and East Africa”.
This year 2012, NNINA established and advertised five Awards including Scientific publication, Community Nutrition, Paediatric Nutrition, Clinical Nutrition and Overall Nutrition Award which attracted a cash prize of USD3, 000 for each individual or group awardees and USD 7,500 for the overall nutrition award.
Prof. Kikafunda applied for the sector of Community nutrition, a recognition for work done in community setting where it was required that the nominee has established a community nutrition project that shows innovation, good community participation, stakeholder engagement and support , measurable impact and sustainability.
Her project included training rural mothers on best practices for feeding and caring for their young children. She is currently implementing the experience gained in that project in her home sub-county of Kyeizooba, Bushenyi district, using her own funds.
Appointed Uganda High Commissioner to UK
As the saying goes,” Hard work pays”, Prof. Joyce Kikafunda reaped big when in August 2012, she was appointed Uganda High Commissioner to the UK. “ I was appointed by HE the President. The appointments came in on 20th August. All Ugandan Missions got new Ambassadors. After the nominations by the President, the new appointees have to be vetted by Parliament”, Joyous Kikafunda said.
Prof. Kikafunda attended and passed the vetting and will assume duties sometime next year. “I am very happy about the appointment and feel honoured that HE found me worthy of such High post. To the Women out there, trust in God and your dreams will be fulfilled”, She advised.
According to a report posted on the web by W. Mutenza on the Ugandan UK Convention on 25th August, 2012 Prof. Kikafunda was welcomed with a lot of expectations;
“On behalf of all the Ugandan Convention UK we welcome Professor Joyce Kikafunda Uganda’s new High Commissioner to London. Prof Kikafunda comes with a wealth of experience of life in the Diaspora having spent time first at the University of Saskatchewan Canada and then at the University of Reading UK. She is an example of someone who went back home and made a huge contribution to the development of Uganda and her experience will be invaluable to the Ugandan Diaspora.” Part of the welcome message read.
Prof. Kikafunda was hailed for being instrumental in the development and growth of the Food Science and Technology at Makerere University, spearheading research that examined the effect of poor nutrition on rural women especially in her native Bushenyi and mentoring several young girls to excellence.
“We look forward to welcoming her to this year’s Ugandan Convention in London on 15th September 2012. We are especially looking forward to hearing her views on the investment opportunities in Agriculture.” The statement read.
Who is Joyce Kikafunda?
Joyce K. Kikafunda is a professor of food and nutrition at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. She received her MS degree in food science and technology from the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada, and her PhD degree in food science and nutrition from the University of Reading in the United Kingdom. She is well known for spearheading the establishment of the first ever Department of Food Science and Technology in Uganda in 1989, which she headed for 12 years. This department has been instrumental in capacity building for food security, value addition, and human nutrition in Uganda and the region.
Beyond academic circles as “a Pioneer and Mother of Uganda”
This description is properly articulated in the food science studies published on March 07, 2010 and The New visionArchive by Arthur Baguma.
Impact: Nurtured the department of food and nutrition.
Trains rural mothers on best practices for feeding children.
Mentors girls to do sciences
Quote “One should be resilient and avoid being selfish”..
As a woman, Prof. Joyce Kakuramatsi Kikafunda has been a pioneer in many things. She was the first woman to get a first-class degree in agriculture at Makerere University.
She is also one of the only six fully recognised female professors at Makerere and the only female professor in Agriculture, Food science and Nutrition in Uganda.
She was also the first woman in her district to get a PhD but that is not why the food/nutrition scientist is viewed as a national achiever.
Some people want her name to be inscribed on the walls of the state-of-the art Faculty of Food science and technology.
She is the brain behind the multi-million dollar complex. And, to the illiterate mothers in the districts of Rukungiri, Kanungu and Kabale, she is the reason why the malnutrition levels have slumped from 21% to 11% in only four years.
Many fondly refer to Kikafunda as the mother of food science and nutrition, training and research. Fred Lukwago, the product researcher and development at the Uganda Industrial Research Institute, says, “Kikafunda is a mentor and great role model”.
All those who have passed through her hands can testify that she is an extraordinary woman. Lukwago is Kikafunda’s former student. It is the same story for Sarah Namutebi, a former post-graduate student. “I don’t only speak for myself but many others who have passed through her hands. She has made a lot of contribution to the field of food science and technology”.
Among other people who have recognised Kikafunda’s work is President Yoweri Museveni. Officiating at the 20th anniversary of the department of Food science and technology recently, the President recognised Kikafunda’s role in developing and nurturing the department from a small unit to the vibrant centre of excellence it is now.
The personality of Prof. Joyce Kikafunda
To the ordinary eye, she passes as any other woman. She is soft spoken but with an assertive tone.
On the bookshelf in her office are several neatly framed certificates and awards. Dressed in a red suit, she cuts a reserved posture.
While some questions bring a smile to her face, others only remind her of the challenges she has overcome in her career. “This is a rewarding profession. You may not get a lot of money, but you can help many people to live a fulfilled life. I was in the village training mothers on child care using my little resources. But, doing such things that change people’s livelihood gives me the strength to wake up every morning and work”, Kikafunda explains.
Her family wanted her to be a doctor, but she opted for agriculture referring to it as a calling.
Kikafunda is also very passionate about the girl-child. In September 2009, the National Council of Science and Technology selected her as one of their science role models to encourage girls in secondary schools to do sciences.
She has mentored the girls by listening to their problems and encouraging them to work hard and excel. Her advice to them is to work hard and never give up. Kikafunda says, one should be resilient and avoid being selfish.
She has helped some master degree students pay their fees, a cause she attributes to having empathy for people.
She adds that girls should stop the thinking of, “I cannot do it because I am a girl”
Kikafunda ventured into a field that was initially scorned as a field mainly for cooking. It was not an easy start for the department. Food nutrition was a new discipline. People thought it was just about cooking and shunned it, Kikafunda recalls.
Food science and nutrition is a big discipline that deals with post-harvesting issues, food processing and food technology. This is very important for a country like Uganda which largely depends on agriculture.
During her term as head of department, she supervised the multi-million NORAD-funded infrastructure development that resulted in a multi-purpose vibrant centre of excellence for training and research, comprising staff offices, lecture theatres, a library, laboratories, a conference centre, a canteen and a state-of-the art food processing pilot plant.
The department of Food science and technology which Kikafunda nurtured, has produced over 500 food and nutritional scientists over the 20 years of its existence. These are absorbed by the food industrial sector, Government ministries, parastatals and NGOs while others are self-employed.
Her role model
Prof. Kikafunda says her role model is Prof. Elly Sabiiti, who always encouraged her to excel.
Prof. Kikafunda started out with five academic staff when she took over the leadership of the department in 1991, to a strong team of 16 when she handed over office in 2006.
She has successfully completed over 10 research projects. The most noteworthy was Malnutrition in the face of plenty: An assessment of the causes of the persistent high levels of childhood malnutrition in Western Uganda from which useful recommendations to guide policy and interventions to reduce childhood malnutrition, were generated.
Prof. Kikafunda has been a team leader on several national development projects, sponsored by the FAO, World Bank, and USAID including the Agriculture Nutrition Advantage project where she was able to influence the addition of nutrition as a cross-cutting issue in the 2005 national Poverty Eradication Action Plan.
Prof. Kikafunda has served in the Uganda National Council of Science and Technology and became the chair of its Agricultural Sciences Committee. She has also served in the National Agricultural Research Organization.
She sits as a member of the board of the Uganda Technical College (Bushenyi), the Uganda National Food and Nutrition Council, and the Uganda National Bureau of Standards.
She is a member of the Nutrition Society of UK, the Food Science and Nutrition Network for Africa, the president of Uganda Action for Nutrition (UGAN) and Information Technology for Advancement of Nutrition in Africa and plays an active role in the CGIAR Gender and Diversity Program on African Women in Agricultural Research and Development.
Her areas of research include child nutrition, food fortification, and food consumption patterns. She has attended and presented papers on food and nutrition in various international conferences and has published several articles in international refereed and local journals on the same topic. She has supervised more than 20 MS and a number of PhD students in the fields of food science and human nutrition.
Prof. Kikafunda does not develop capacity only at the university, but in the community as well. Her outreach projects include training rural mothers on best practices for feeding and caring for their young children. The project, which she headed for four years, was called Gender-Informed Nutrition and Agriculture (GINA), sponsored by USAID.
GINA ran for four years in the districts of Kabale, Kanungu and Rukungiri.
She is currently implementing the experience gained in that project in her home sub-county of Kyeizooba, Bushenyi district, using her own funds.
Kikafunda was born in the early 1950s in the remote village of Rwengyeya, Kararo Parish, Kyeizooba sub-county, Bushenyi district, to the late Erieza and Ednance Kakuramatsi.
She is the fourth-born in a family of six, but only one of her siblings is still alive. As a result, she has had several dependants to look after and educate.
She is married to Dr. Joseph Kikafunda of the National Agricultural Research Organisation with whom she has two children.
She attended Gayaza High School and as an old girl of the school, she has lived by the school motto: Never Give Up.
In 1976, Kikafunda graduated from Makerere University with a first class honours degree in agriculture.
After her BSc in agriculture, she went to Canada to pursue a master in Food science and technology at the University of Saskatchewan.
At the end of the 1980s, she returned to Uganda and was appointed lecturer in the department of food science and technology, which was just starting.
She nurtured and headed the infant department for 12 years.
In 1993, she went to the University of Reading, UK, where she graduated with a PhD in Food science and nutrition.
In 1998, she was promoted to senior lecturer in the department of food science and technology.
In 2006, she was promoted to associate professor before becoming a full professor, the highest academic position in the university, in 2009.
During her term of office, she spearheaded the development of two master degrees: (MSc Food Science and Technology, and MSc in Applied Human Nutrition)