Mak  holds policy dialogue on water quality and food security under the CapNex Project

Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) on Friday 31st January, 2020  held a policy dialogue on  water and food security under the auspices of the project on, “Capacity-building on the Water-Energy-Food Security Nexus (CapNex) in Kenya and Uganda”.

Participants posing for a group photo during the break session

The policy dialogue was a follow up activity on the research dissemination workshop held in Busia with the beneficiary communities that came up with good recommendations for policy .

The function held at the Conference Hall, School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-Engineering brought together officials from the line ministries and agencies such as Ministry of Water and Environment, (MWE) Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF),  the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO), the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) and  the Uganda National Federation of Farmers( UNFFE).

Also present were assorted NGO’s, district leaders from Tororo, Namisindwa, Busia and Bungoma, researchers from Makerere, Kyambogo and Uganda Christian University as well as international visitors from Boku University –Austria.

Head of Office Austrian Embassy Dr. Roswitha Kremses opening the policy dialogue

The dialogue was officially opened by the Head of Office Austrian Embassy Development Cooperation Dr. Roswitha Kremses. The function was also graced by the Vice Chancellor Makerere University represented by the Principal CAES Prof. Bernard Bashaasha.

The objective of the policy dialogue was to discuss the findings of the project and design pathways for sustainable use of local natural resources to provide water, food and other needs of the communities.

CapNex is an Austrian partnership program in higher education and research for development (APPEAR) project being implemented by Makerere University (Uganda), Technische Universitat (Vienna), Boku (Austria) and the Technical University of  Kenya.

The four-year project (December 2016-2020) is funded by Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC) through the Austrian Agency for International Cooperation in Education and Research (OeAD) at an estimated budget of Euros 390,000.

Group 2 discussing the research findings

The project case study was the Sio-Malaba-Malakisi River basin of Uganda and Kenya which traverses Uganda’s districts of Tororo, Busia, Namisindwa and Bungoma in Kenya.

The project aimed at illustrating challenges and pathways for sustainable use of local natural resources to provide water, energy, food and building up capacities on the nexus at university and non-university level.

At Makerere University, the project is coordinated by Assoc. Prof. Jeninah Karungi from the Department of Agricultural Production while Dr. Jakob Lederer is the Coordinator Technische Universitat Wien Austria.

In her opening remarks, the Head of Office Austrian Embassy Development Cooperation Dr. Roswitha Kremses expressed pride that the Austrian government was facilitating higher education and research. Dr Roswitha was also hopeful that the policy dialogue won’t be the end of the cooperation. She implored  researchers to make use of the research output for the benefit of the targeted beneficiaries.

Prof. Bernard Bashaasha speaking on behalf of the Vice Chancellor

Speaking on behalf of the Vice Chancellor, Makerere University and, also  Principal CAES Prof. Bernard Bashaasha, welcomed participants to Makerere saying the university has been there since 1922 and has nurtured many. Prof. Bashaasha extended appreciation to the Austrian Government and her people for financing the project activities expressing hope that the project output will be beneficial to the people of Uganda. The Principal also thanked that CapNex program coordinators for prioritizing higher education and research, providing scholarship to attain high education and research support.

“I thank the project for focusing on water, energy and food security. Water is important for food and agriculture. Water influences nutrition. Households with little water have compromised health outcome.

I thank the project for thinking about capacity building. Nations that have advanced prioritize Human resource development. Capacity building is what we value as Makerere University and a country because some young people must come in as the elderly exit”, The Principal said.

Mak Project Coordinator Dr. Jeninah Karungi making her remarks

Makerere University’s Project Coordinator Assoc. Prof. Jeninah Karungi explained that Uganda had two project case studies (C and D) focusing on capacity building. “In Uganda, our main aim was to give skills to the post docs to give them a chance to supervise Masters students.

So on case study C which is on adoption of  soil and water conservation technologies, we have the leader as Dr. Alice Turinawe supervising two students.  In Case study D which is Manure Management we have a post doc Dr. Allan Komakech supervising two students.” Dr. Karungi said.

Dr. Karungi reported that the project was doing well on the aspect of capacity building. She said the two students on case study D have already graduated while one  on case study C has submitted the thesis and the other is on draft three. “The other thing was capacity building at the local level. The project findings impact on the community and once we got findings, we synthesized them and went to  inform communities on what we have found so that we can work together to improve on  the resources they have.

So we had a workshop in Busia because this work was on the Sio-Malaba- Malakisi river basin which part of is in Uganda and part in Kenya. In Kenya we had people from Bungoma and Busia then in Uganda, we had people from Namisindwa, Tororo and Busia Uganda”, Dr. Jeninah Karungi explained.

She said an issue of policy was embedded in this project since issues of water, energy and food have policy implications. She said, because resources are scarce and have to be used sustainably, there is need for concerted efforts. “That is why we decided to   hold the policy dialogue to share project findings on the current state of resource utilization and map out the way forward based on the project results and experience from the different stakeholders to inform policy”, Dr. Karungi said

Dr. Jakob Lederer presenting during the policy dialogue

The Austrian Project Coordinator Dr. Jacob Lederer said the project focused on the issue of pressure on natural resources especially soils for the provision of food and soil fertility loss. He added that the project was organized in four case studies with four universities working on them at an estimated cost of Euros 390,000. “The first two of them were focusing on Water Quantity and water quality particularly erosion. This is case study A and B. Case studies C and D  are carried out by Makerere University concentrating on how to protect soils that is, conservation from erosion and how to manage manure appropriately to improve food production. Cases studies A and B, are done by the university Technische Universitat (Vienna), Boku (Austria) and the Tehnical University of  Kenya”, He said.

Dr. Lederer highlighted the project achievements including capacity build using the case studies in partner universities to proper investigate the future of these topics and training the human resources from these universities to service both the public and private sector.

Besides building the human capacity, Dr. Lederer said the project has come up with quality data that will be made accessible for further investigation and reference.

Accord to Dr. Lederer, a total of 14 graduate students were enrolled under the project of these, 4 Masters and one Bachelors students were from Uganda. 4 Masters were from Kenya while 2 PhDs, 2 Masters and one bachelors student were from Austria.

Report compiled by;
Jane Anyango,
Principal Communication Officer, CAES



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