Mak Launches Book on Agriculture and Ecosystem Resilience in Sub Saharan Africa

Makerere University on 4th December 2020, launched a book titled, “Agriculture and Ecosystem Resilience in Sub Saharan Africa”. The book is one of the outputs of the project titled “Regional Capacity Building for Sustainable Natural Resource Management and Agricultural Productivity under Changing Climate” (CAPSNAC).

CAPSNAC is Collaborative Project involving four institutions, one in the North and three in the South and included: Makerere University-Uganda, Addis Ababa University-Ethiopia; University of Juba-South Sudan, Norwegian University of Life Sciences-Norway.

Makerere University is the lead institution, and the project is based in CAES, with Prof. Samuel Kyamanywa, as the principal Investigator (PI) of the Project. It was funded by NORAD through the NORHED program to a tune of NOKs 20 million.

The book was edited by Assoc. Prof. Yazidhi Bamutaze as the Lead editor, Prof. Samuel Kyamanywa, Assoc. Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga as Co-editor from Makerere University. Others from partnering institutions were Prof. Bal Ram Singh and Rattan Lal.

Assoc. Prof Yazidhi Bamutaze and Pro.f Samuel Kyamanywa, steering and co-steering members

Giving the citation the lead editor Assoc. Prof. Yazidhi Bamutaze said the volume discusses emerging contexts of agricultural and ecosystem resilience in Sub Saharan Africa, as well as contemporary technological advances that have influenced African Livelihoods.

In six sections, he said the book addresses the sustainable development goals to mitigate the negative impacts on agricultural productivity brought about by climate change in Africa while some of the challenges assessed include soil degradation, land use changes, natural resource mismanagement, declining crop productivity, and economic stagnation.

This book Dr. Bamutaze said will be of interest to researchers, NGOs, and development organizations. Section 1 focuses on climate risk management in tropical Africa. Section 2 addresses the water-ecosystem-agriculture nexus, and identifies the best strategies for sustainable water use.

Section 3 introduces Information Communication Technology (ICT), and how it can be used for ecosystem and human resilience to improve quality of life in communities. Section 4 discusses the science and policies of transformative agriculture, including challenges facing crop production and management.

Section 5 addresses landscape processes, human security, and governance of agro-ecosystems. Section 6 concludes the book with chapters uniquely covering the gender dynamics of Agricultural, ecosystem, and livelihood resilience.

DVCAA Assoc. Prof. Umar Kakumba signs on the dummy

Launching the book at Golden Tulip Hotel in Kampala, Makerere University Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Academic Affairs (DVC AA) Assoc. Prof.  Umar Kakumba congratulated the PI and his team for the great works and potential Makerere was exhibiting through this work.

The DVC AA was impressed by Prof. Kyamanywa’s ability to put up a team of colleagues in Makerere collaborating with Ethiopia, getting to Juba in South Sudan, getting in touch with the University of Life sciences in Norway and writing a project proposal that won a grant able to build capacity and foster the strategic vision of Makerere University.

“Through this we are able to get 27 trained people. We are having internationalization, we are having stuff exchange, we are having post docs, we are having infrastructure, development computers, we are refurbishing offices, and we are churning out publications. Not just publications but publications from highly refereed publishers,” The DVC remarked.

Dr. Kakumba said Makerere has a new strategic plan with a new rebranded strategic vision 2020-2030 envisioning being a thought leader of knowledge generation for society transformation and development which is entirely galvanized in this work under CAPSNAC coming out of research.

He said the university was promoting innovative teaching and learning that can respond to emerging needs of our society.

“The knowledge that you generate through research is what you use to train, it is what informs others to know what is taking place out in the world. This is new knowledge about the emerging challenges of climate change and how we can cope through resilience.

The book is about resilience. It’s a key word there and not just in Uganda but Sub-Saharan Africa. And we are responding to the contemporary needs, the emerging needs of our global economy. Today we are talking about climate change. Climate variabilities, the challenges and the risks that are involved and you know very well that agriculture is the heart of our economies in our poor countries. In Uganda, you cannot talk about the higher dividends without the  backward  and forth linkages  all through the agricultural value chain,” Prof. Kakumba said.

Prof. Samuel Kyamanywa PI, Assoc. Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga and Assoc. Prof. Umar Kakumba , DVC AA cutting the ribbon to signify the book launch

The DVC AA said the university wants to enhance partnerships with industry, community and international institutions as exemplified by CAPSNAC strategic partnership with Ethiopia South Sudan, the University of Life Sciences and the funding agents that are coming along the way.

Kakumba noted that besides the book including the notion of ICT as a critical enabler across the spectrum, the book also addresses the critical Sustainable Development Goals trying to mitigate the negative impacts on agricultural productivity brought about by climate change in Africa.

“But I am also particularly pleased that  section 3 covers ICT,  bringing in the role of ICTs because you cannot just talk about agricultural produce even when you have the produce you must connect it to the a supply and demand out there.

So ICT has become a critical enabler but also in receiving information about resilience, how people will address emerging problems whether they are to do with pesticides or with the knowledge of extension workers or whoever comes in there you need ICT whether through marketing.

The third point I borrow from the script is the fight against climate change and its effects on agriculture and eco system resilience in Sub-Saharan Africa,  a race against time that we can only effectively participate in if we have the right tools and I want to say we have the right tools in Makerere,” The don stated.

The professor congratulated the project for being able to galvanize and leverage on the great potential that Makerere has across all the departments in CAES describing this as the best bringing on board agricultural engineers, foresters and pure agriculturalists and other talents from the research institutions, professionals from humanities and social sciences.

Dr. Kakumba expressed happiness over the capacity Makerere has built over time with support from development partners particularly from the Norwegian government as a key component of training of more graduates.

Prof. Kakumba also said the university continues to celebrate the milestones such as the number of graduates trained and publications. He however added that there is need to focus on how the university can turn all these results into policy and business.

“We must be able to see this beyond dissemination, beyond the text book and we should continue the struggle by ensuring  that what Professor Kyamanywa highlighted about knowledge transfer as being a challenge and that’s what we had as a disconnect. We are able to produce all volumes of research in Makerere but everything remained at the ivory tower.

But am very glad and grateful beyond this now we the academics have started partnering with people from the industry the private sector governmental agencies and be able to reach out to the community taking our the university away from the ivory tower and to me I really feel very great and much empowered that when you have a team you leading then you can seat comfortably at any office and you know that the university is really moving,” The DVC AA implored.

Prof. Samuel Kyamanywa PI

Speaking about the Agricultural Resilience Knowledge creation and its utility for development and  the CAPSNAC Model, the Project PI Prof. Samuel Kyamanywa noted that although the East African economy is Agricultural led depending on natural resources, Agricultural Productivity and Natural resources are threatened by variable and changing climate, Natural resource degradation and Decreasing agricultural Productivity.

Prof. Kyamanywa said, responding to issues emanating from climate change, requires resilient agricultural systems that are able to respond to shocks.

The professor highlighted that lack of sufficient human capacity with the right skills and mind-set to address national development challenges; Lack of appropriate technologies, knowledge and innovations to handle technical challenges, and poor knowledge transfer systems are impediments to dealing with development challenges

The PI said, Universities have a role of generating solutions to obviate these challenges by supplying knowledgeable and multi-skilled graduates, providing evidence-based options to support formulation of interventions and friendly policies for accelerating creation of resilient agricultural systems for national development.

Prof. Kyamnaywa explained that the CAPSNAC Project integrated Collaborative Training, Research and Knowledge transfer system taking  advantage of the combined strength of three to build research and human capacity of their universities, with backstopping from an international University from the North.

In addition he said the project promotes multidisciplinary approach, integrates end users in research process, and postgraduate student as key researchers supported by senior scientists.

CAPSNAC project was  spearheaded  by Makerere University led by Prof. Samuel Kyamanywa and Dr.Yazidhi Bamutaze from the College of Agricultural and Environm,ental Sciences.

Other partnering institutions include the Norwegian University of Life Sciences Department of Plant and Environmental sciences coordinated by  Prof. Bal Ram Singh. University of Juba College of Resources and Environmental Studied coordinated by  Dr. Pasquale Moilinga and Addis Ababa  University College of Natural Sciences, Department of Plant Biology and Biodiversity Management coordinated  by Prof. Zemed Asfaw.

Some of the book authors reading their titles

The Project objectives according to Prof. Kyamanywa were 1) To review and strengthen academic programmes in respect to CC and NRM in the three partner institutions in the south; 2) To strengthen research capacities in CC and NRM to generate knowledge and technologies for development and policy formulation;3) To build staff capacities through PhD, Postdoctoral for all south institutions and M.Sc. Training for the University of Juba, that will improve its educational and research management capacity;4) To strengthen research and teaching infrastructure in order to produce better and responsive graduates and; 4) To strengthen north-south, and south-south linkages through staff exchange, joint collaborative research and outreach activities

“ The Deliverables and  Commitments  included Joint research projects, including joint papers;Teaching and research laboratories equipped; Academic programmes reviewed and strengthened and Staff trained at PhD and postdoctoral levels for institutions.

Other deliverables are University of Juba staff trained at master and Ph.D level (12 M.SC and 10 Ph.D ); Competence building courses developed; Text book on Natural Resource Management and Climate Change in Eastern Africa produced and, Regional Partnership between institutions in the south strengthened”, The PI stated.

Under Objective 1 to review and strengthen academic programmes the PI reported that  the project reviewed and strengthened 4 academic programmes at Makarere University namely:-MA Geography, Master of Land Use and Regional Development, B.Sc. Earth and Geographical Sciences and MSc in Extension and Innovation Studies. 

At the University of Juba  12 programs were reviewed and strengthened including MSc Environmental Studies, MSc Wildlife Ecology and Management, MSc Forestry, MSc Animal production, MSc. Horticulture and .MSc. Plant protection. Similarly, at Addis Ababa University 2 Programs:-MSc. Plant Biology and Biodiversity Management; and PhD Plant Biology and Biodiversity Management were reviewed and strengthened.

A total of 27 Graduate students (10 PhDs and 17 Masters) were registered under the project. Addis Ababa registered 4 students (2 PhDs and 2 Masters), Makerere had a total of 6 (3 PhD and 3 MSc) while University of Juba registered 17 students ( 5 PhDs and 12 Masters.

Reporting on the progress of Graduate Students Prof. Kyamanywa said overall out of the 27 registered students 15 had graduated, 2 had submitted while 8 were behind schedule.

He further said, all Masters students from Makerere University  Uganda and Addis Ababa university Ethiopia had graduated. 8 from South Sudan graduated  1 had submitted while 3 were behind schedule.

Of the 10 PhD students, 1 of the 2 from Mak Uganda had graduated and 1 submitted. 0f the 4 PhD students registered from University of Juba South Sudan, none had either graduated nor submitted while 1 of the 2 from Addis Ababa Ethiopia had dropped out and the other behind schedule.

Under Objective 2, to strengthen research capacities in climate change and natural resource management to generate knowledge and technologies for development and policy formulation  different studies had been undertaken in three thematic areas of Climate Change Adaptation & Mitigation, Sustainable environmental resources use &  management and Strengthening agricultural productivity & food security

Under Objective 3 to  build staff capacities through PhD training, postdoctoral research and master level training the PI said that, Staff from Mak visited and taught at UJ, Post-doctoral research fellows, Dr Bikila Warkineh Dullo at AAU, and Dr Paul Mukwaya at Mak, were supported to conduct their research. In addition, an International training course on “Advanced spatial analysis for Natural Resources Management and Climate Change Adaptation” was attended by over 30 and the project gave small grants to 7 scientists (3 at Mak, 2 at UJ and 2 at AAU)

Under Objective 4 to strengthen research and teaching infrastructure Prof Kyamanywa said the project procured  62 computers: (50 are desk top computers; (30- UJ & at 20-Mak) 12 are lap-top computers  for the scientists on the project in the respective institutions to ease teaching and research.

The project further refurbished offices in AAU, UJ and Mak to provide conducive research and teaching environment, bought 5 Printers and one camera and other data capturing gargets and Procured laboratory equipment for UJ and AAU, and a vehicle which is facilitating field travels.

The PI also reported that the project has published 16 publications in international refereed journals, 15 conference papers, 14 under preparation and 1 book that was being launched.

Among the challenges encountered the PI highlighted the political turmoil in South Sudan and Ethiopia, Financial institutions not able to transfer funds and increased travel costs for stakeholders. Other challenges he said were delay in starting the activities hence affecting utilisation of resources on schedule and timely reporting, 

He also noted that some of the academic staff identified for training were outside the thematic areas of CAPSNAC, Lack of gender balance in the members of Staff identified by UJ for postgraduate training, Changes in project officer for CAPSNAC, Fluctuations in exchange rate and Emerging social issues.

Representing the Principal CAES, the Deputy Principal Assoc. Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga who is also Co-editor welcomde participants to yet another very important event in the CAES saying she was greatly honored to have all despite the competing demands.

Dr. Nabanoga said the articles in the book provide a snapshot of what is happening in the region owing to its geographical extent and the attendant physical and social heterogeneity and tackles both the natural science and social science issues under the conditions of changing climate and increasing climate variability.

She noted that without empirically generated new evidence and decision-making support tools, the creation of an enabling environment for poorer smallholder farmers to engage in sustainable agricultural practice would be futile.

The Deputy Principal called upon Policy makers and practitioners to make good use of these great findings as they make strides to implement the NDPIII and the  funding partners in scientific knowledge generation crime not tire to provide support to this noble causes and  the researchers, authors, editors, and reviewers to keep the candle burning and informed and the end users out there that Makerere is ready to take up any research related challenges that will improve their strides to sustainable development.

Nabanoga reported that having realized that sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is a hotspot region where a significant proportion of livelihoods are heavily ecosystem dependent, highly vulnerable to climate variability and change, and have low adaptive capacities, coupled with a need to undertake a correct diagnosis and have the right prescription at the right place and right time, a team constituting members from Makerere University – CAES, University of Juba ,Addis Ababa university, Norwegian University of life Sciences, developed a research proposal to contribute to bridging the huge scientific knowledge gap to guide inventions and policy decision- making tools for better management of risks linked to climate change and increasing variability in SSA. This proposal led to research activities that yielded several outputs one of which is the Book being launched.

She said the timing and relevancy of this book coincided with the contemporary global, continental, and national development processes and efforts of mitigating Climate change in the SSA region.

The book according to the Dr. Nabanoga draws contributions by over 80 scientists with keen interest in the SSA region, and have expertise in both natural (biophysical) and social sciences (the human dimension) disciplines, from around the world but with greater proportions from the SSA region.

She explained that the main domain from science is to create knowledge through accurate research of integrity that can assist in a positive transformation of society. This book she added, addresses issues at micro, meso and macro levels using various analytical lenses. The conceptualization, thematic focus, and contributions in the book she said are envisioned to lead to a better development trajectory in SSA.

From the Preface of this book I quote the main benefit “the uptake of knowledge created by practitioners and policy- makers can yield evidence based formulation and interventions that can catalyze best practices that better protect the environment, secure societies against adverse hazards and propel innovations and technologies that boost economics”. This is the gist of conducting research!” Dr. Nabanoga stated.

The Deputy Principal thanked the Government of Uganda for providing the conducive environment in which the university operates, the Makerere University under the leadership of the VC Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe for the continued push to research and innovation and providing the resources required.

Dr. Nabanoga appreciated the development partners especially NORAD through NOHRED, the Norwegian Ambassador- HE Elin Ostebo Johansen and Government of Norway, for without its support  little would have been achieved. She also expressed gratitude to the Principal CAES- Prof. Barnard Bashaasha for giving staff the space to research and innovate and, the researchers, authors, editors, and reviewers, for the commitment and dedication.

In a special way, Dr. Nabanoga thanked the PI- Prof. Samuel Kyamanywa describing him as the Captain and helmsman of the CAPSNAC Ship for safely steering the ship to the shore. She added that Prof. Kyamanywa’s excellent leadership, passion and commitment to success, and his team building skills are the reason the function was on.

She also thanked Prof. Yazidhi Bamutaze for co- steering the CAPSNAC Ship saying, his dedication, especially in the production of this book can never be taken for granted.

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



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