- August 16, 2022
- Posted by: Mariam Kasemiire
- Category: Uncategorized
The College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Makerere University led by the Deputy Principal, Prof. Yazidhi Bamutaze, organized and hosted the 2022 Landscape Ecology Summer School, held from 21st to 28th July, 2022. The summer school was attended by participants from twenty (20) countries including: Uganda, Kenya, Congo – Kinshasa, Ghana, Nigeria, Germany, the US, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Benin, Rwanda etc. The summer school was very intensive with a series of activities including several presentations, visits to three (03) informal settlements in Kampala including Kisenyi, Bwaise and Acholi Quarters. In Jinja, participants visited two (02) informal settlements including Kibuga – Mbaata, Rippon and the source of the Nile. Participants were hosted to a dinner in Jinja and cultural night at the Ndere Cultural Centre in Kampala. The school started with a theoretical and conceptual overview of urban ecologies of Kampala and Jinja cities at Makerere University. This was followed by a tour of Kampala city and the above selected informal settlements to gain valuable insights into their complex urban ecologies. During the visits, participants had the opportunity to engage with community leaders from the informal settlements as a way of gaining a deeper understanding into the motivations and logics behind the visions of communities living in unequal and precarious environments.
Under the theme “Cities and Urban Ecological Resilience”, the focus of the school was to “Understand Landscapes, Issues and Co-creation of Knowledge and Solutions” at relevant scales as well as addressing sustainability issues. The objectives of the summer School included:
- Provide insights in recent conceptual, theoretical and technological developments in landscape ecology that enhance the UN Global Development Agenda 2030 and the African Union Agenda 2063.
- Build a network of knowledgeable, skilled and competent multidisciplinary scientists with competencies to resolve complex issues.
- Facilitate deepening of beneficial science-practice-policy interfaces along ecological sustainability and livelihood thrivability in the midst of increasing stressors.
- Increase north-south and south-south networking, collaboration and partnership for increased knowledge creation and scholarship.
The landscape ecology network was initiated mainly to address contemporary issues that will lead to the actualization of agenda 2030 and more specifically, SDGs 1 (No poverty), 10 (Reduced inequality), 11 (Sustainable cities and communities), 13 (Climate Action) and their related targets. It is envisioned that the network will play an important role to improve public portfolios, skills and scholarships among African scholars as well as increase collaborations and networking. The network is expected to enable more contributions to publications, increased scholarship from African scholars and greater collaboration/networking. The network is headed by three principle investigators including: Prof. Yazidhi Bamutaze (Makerere University), Prof. Henry Bulley (City University of New York) and Prof. Catherine Furst (Martin-Luther-Universitat Halle-Wittenberg).
In his opening remarks, Prof. Yazidhi Bamutaze, Deputy Principal, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, pointed out that Makerere University remains one of the top universities in Africa. The university was in the midst of commemorating 100 years since its inception. The summer school was therefore an important element within the broader contribution of the university as a knowledge generation and research institution not only for Uganda but Africa as a whole. According to Prof. Bamutaze, the network has already undertaken two (2) summer schools in Kampala, with the first one being held in 2021, the second one in 2022. The next summer school is scheduled to be shared between Kampala and Nairobi in 2023.
Following Prof. Bamutaze’s opening, Prof. Henry Bulley remarked that,
“If we are to go beyond resilience, we have to bring back nature. Therefore a lot has to be done collectively in order to address issues of climate change. For a city to develop we need to critique ideas, however our criticisms should be directed towards the methods or ideas not the human being…”
Furthermore, Prof. Bulley applauded donor support for the network activities.
“We appreciate the money coming in from both donor foundations which has enabled us have the summer school this year (2022). If this is going to translate into anything, we need collaborations because if we start and improve partnerships we can change things for our communities. Everybody is now thinking about Agenda 2063 on ‘The Africa We Want’, with the majority of Africa becoming gradually urbanized. We want an organized urban Africa though the question is: how do we work towards this? “
According to him,
“…we need to showcase how we are doing things, what is there in terms of resources to achieve the Africa we want, copying from other African countries and the drivers of change (Sustainable Development Goals) to improve resilience for sustainability…”
Issues arising from the summer school
- Inadequate physical planners for Africa as well as the need for mind transformation amongst the current group of planning professionals,
- Initiatives geared towards addressing slum issues are lacking in some countries such as Congo – Kinshasa where resource extraction has eclipsed issues such as urban development,
- There is need to balance diverse views and identities while generating useful knowledge within the current networks of professionals and academia across Africa,
- Local experiences need to be translated into legitimate scholarly knowledge by engaging practitioners in documenting and publishing their experiences in journals, and other academic platforms,
- Kampala informal settlements have challenges including: developments pressures, multi-land tenure system, urban sprawl,
- Ghana’s urban planning system just like Uganda has serious challenges including institutional governance and implementation.
Recommendations for Improvement
- There is need to reconcile donor demands with the practicalities of the summer school e.g. sending emails to undertake accountability is inappropriate and hence needs to be resolved urgently to improve the management of the whole process,
- Networking is very key and according to Prof. Henry Bulley,
“You are not here to learn the basics of science. The key reason you are here is to network and collaborate. Social events allow us to see the humanity in ourselves, you may not know the person who will administer your grant. With all the degrees, if we don’t network we are joking”,
- There is need for Africa’s cities to build their capacities to induce economic growth and foster transformative cultural change,
- There is need to integrate environment issues e.g. urban greening and beautification, climate change in all development plans by local city governments,
- Priority should be given to ALL forms of knowledge NOT academic knowledge only,
- Complex academic concepts should be translated into relatable and practical narratives for local communities for greater impact,
- Consideration should be accorded for the development of collectively agreed protocols for knowledge exchange and use,
- There is need to increase the number of days a summer school takes per year. Although this can also be achieved through having more webinars or virtual – based activities,
- Refresher training courses for follow-up on previous summer schools for continuity are critical hence the need to be integrated in the future network plans,
- Physical planning is a critical component for addressing the challenges faced by informal settlements across urban Africa,
- Increase student involvement in knowledge creation processes as a key resource for more impactful planning policy,
- Documentation of the network activities so that future schools can build on the previous summer schools.
- Adequate policy and proper stakeholder engagement in policy-making, accessibility to funding and proper information and capacity enhancement for more resilient cities,
- The need for infrastructure that is sensitive to various kinds of people in Africa’s cities,
- Inter – disciplinarity is a core element of planning for more resilient African cities,
- There is need to alternate summer school venues across the continent for a more diverse experience for participants,
- People have to be engaged in planning since they are at the center of all the decisions being made by development professionals.
Written By Kasemiire Mariam, Web Administrator,
CAES & School of Law
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