****The four-year programme (2022-2025) is supported by the Conrad Hilton Foundation and implemented by the Department of Agricultural and Bio-systems Engineering at CAES, Makerere University

Makerere University Department of Agricultural and Bio-systems Engineering, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) on 19th May 2023 held a ceremony to mark the completion of the 2022 Hilton Foundation Water Quality Testing Fellowship. The event held in the Conference Hall at the School of Food Science and Technology was graced by the Makerere University Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Academic Affairs, Prof. Umar Kakumba who presented certificates to the first cohort of trainees.

The PI, Prof. Isa Kabenge briefs participants about the project

About the programme

The Water Quality Testing programme at Makerere University is implemented by the Department of Agricultural and Bio-systems Engineering in partnership with Aquaya Institute with funding from the Conrad Hilton Foundation. The programme started in 2022 and expected to end in 2025 aims to increase the number of water quality professionals. In the pilot year of 2022, student fellows were recruited from five programmes namely; BSc. Agricultural Engineering (12), BSc. Bioprocessing Engineering (3), BSc. Water and Irrigation Engineering (7), BSc. Civil Engineering (5), and MSc. Agricultural Engineering (3). In total, 30 out of the 68 applicants were recruited to the programme following a rigorous selection exercise.

The trainees following the proceedings of the event

The trainings

During the trainings, the fellows were introduced to various modules in water quality testing and management pre-developed by the Department of Agricultural and Bio-systems Engineering and the Aquaya Institute. The first module introduced the students to water quality aspects in regard to drinking water. The second module focused on water quality management where different water treatment technologies, and processes undertaken to treat water at water treatment plants were studied. The third module covered field collection of water quality data, including site entry, water sampling, labelling, storage, and transportation. The fourth module dealt with general lab practices. The fifth module dealt with data analysis and interpretation, and the sixth module covered report writing. Following the lectures, students and staff congregated at MUARIK for Lab training and pre-field data collection. Students and staff of the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering and Aquaya staff then moved to Lira and Kabarole districts for fieldwork. In the two districts, water points in communities, healthcare centres and schools were sampled and tested on site for physio-chemical parameters including temperature, electrical conductivity, pH, residual chlorine and turbidity. Water samples were also collected and taken for E coli testing in the field lab stations set up in the two districts. Additionally, drinking water samples were taken from households in the two districts and tested for E coli. The programme was supported by technical and administrative officers from the district local governments of Lira and Kabarole and officers from the water quality departments of the Upper Nile and Albert Water Management Zones, under the Ministry of Water and Environment.

The DVCAA, Prof. Umar Kakumba (L) and the Principal of CAES, Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga tour the students’ projects


In his remarks, the DVCAA, Prof. Umar Kakumba applauded the Department of Agricultural and Bio-systems Engineering headed by Prof. Isa Kabenge for the initiative. “Many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) speak to water quality. Training in water quality management is therefore crucial for attaining the development trajectory,” he noted. He explained that the programme blends well in the strategic direction of Makerere University that emphasizes innovative teaching and community engagement. “The work done at Makerere should always be translated to match government development goals and to enhance the relevance of the University.” Prof. Kakumba appreciated the partners for sponsoring the programme and supporting the students during fieldwork. “The programme emphasized practical training and has greatly improved the confident of the students,” he said.

Prof. Kakumba addressing participants

Emphasizing the significance of the project, the Principal of CAES, Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga said the College was intentional on moving towards learner-centred training and creating impact. She said the project was timely and would greatly enhance training in the new programme of water quality engineering. She appreciated the Principal Investigator Prof. Isa Kabenge, and the sponsors of the programme. In similar regard, she appreciated Makerere University Management for creating a conducive environment for staff to explore their potential toQ innovate.

Prof. Kakumba presents a certificate to one of the trainees

The event was attended by officials from the Ministry of Water and Environment, district Local governments and other stakeholders in the water and environment sectors.

Video on the training activities:


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