Seven successful participants drawn from 15 universities across Africa have been awarded grants that range from US$20,000 and US$100,000, to find solutions to community problems.
The money that will help the recipients to engage in research on community resilience interventions was delivered by the State Minister for Higher Education Prof. Tickodri Togboa, at the launch of State of African Resilience Report 2015 at Makerere University on May 8.
The contest drew 600 participants from the 15 sub Saharan universities, and in his speech Prof Togboa urged the seven successful recipients to use the grants wisely.
The report, dubbed ‘State of African Resilience’ and the first of its kind, is the work of Resilience Africa Network (RAN), a project under the Makerere School of Public Health.
Speaking at the launch presided over by State Minister for Health in charge of General Duties Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, who represented chief guest Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, the RAN Deputy Chief of Party Prof. Roy William Mayega noted that despite saving lives through providing aid during disasters, international organisations have not emphasized resilience.
“After disasters many communities in Africa find a hard time resettling no matter how much aid is provided; emphasis on resilience is needed in order to help the affected communities to fully recover from disasters and other social problems,” Prof Mayega said at the launch on May 8 at Makerere University.
“We want to break the gap between the university and the community,” emphasized Prof. Mayega.
Prof. James Fishkin, Director, Center for Deliberative Democracy at Stanford University also emphasised the need for dialoguing with the people that face the consequences of social problems and disasters and noted that many girls in Ugandan rural communities drop out of school because the schools are far. He suggested small community schools and health facilities to established, to ease access to services.
He also noted that resilience is a powerful tool that can be used to change many lives. “The solutions should be tailored around psychosocial problems so that we can deal with them,” Prof. Fishkin said and added: “if we don’t deal with the problems using resilience, we are making our people more vulnerable.”
The Director United States Agency for International Aid (USAID) and U.S Global Development Lab, David Ferguson commended RAN for its efforts and said that USAID and its partners were willing to support life changing projects. “Partnerships between NGOs, business organizations, governments and communities bring different ideas,” Mr. Ferguson noted.”
In his speech, premier Rugunda said organisations like RAN are needed at all universities since they provide the best local solutions to Uganda’s problems.
“Our universities must strive to be the core educators but also the core of innovation,” Dr. Rugunda, who acknowledged the respective partnerships, said.
The State of African Resilience report 2015 highlights findings by Resilience Africa Network (RAN), a partnership targeting 20 Sub-Saharan African Universities. The report is based on research and analysis of the RAN, a partnership that includes 15 African Universities that engage with local communities to understand how best prevent, mitigate and overcome various social problems. RAN is funded by USAID and led by Makerere University in partnership with Tulane University, Stanford University and Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
RAN is one of the eight development labs under the Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN).
The launch was also attended by among others Makerere University (Mak) Chancellor Prof. Mondo Kagonyera, Prof. Dumba Sentamu, the Vice Chancellor Prof. Ddumba Sentamu, the Director Dean of Mak School of Public Health Prof. William Bazeyo, Members of Parliament, officials from USAID and, dignitaries from over 20 local and international universities and NGOs.
The winners were Dr Robinah Kulabako, team leader for Rapid Agricultural Produce (US$20,000); Mr. Swaibu Douglas the Village Egg Bank team leader (US$36,750); Steven Sekamya of Kungula Freshit (42,350); Dr Percy Mugyenyi of Better Farming Better Me (US$43,729); Dr. Julius Gutume (US$44,450); Gerald Kyeyune of Mushrooming Livelihoods (US$44,900) and, Eng. Daniel Byamukama, the team leader Electronic Dollar a Day Saving Box who received US$100,000.