Victoria University Exhibits World Class Research In Public Health

By Professor Stephen Lawoko

Having spent 28 years of my life in Sweden, returning to Uganda July 2017, to serve my country was an honor,though with mixed feelings of excitement and uncertainty. Exciting because I felt my experience in research and education in the health sciences domain would be of great value to university students, faculty and community at large.

Uncertain because I had never worked professionally on long-term basis in Uganda, having left the country after completing senior six. I was now to join as Dean of Health Sciences at a young but dynamic University, Victoria University.

For the past 16 years, I had served in different capacities at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, a top notch world class Medical and Health Science University founded in 1810 and therefore more than 200 years old! Now an Associate Professor, my agenda was clear, but what were my expectations of this 7 year old Victoria University?

I had read and heard of over-filled Universities in Uganda with tutor-student ratios way below optimal. On one occasion while in Sweden, I had actually been invited as a guest lecturer at one such University and experienced it. Some proponents had suggested that this was a reflection of popularity while others argued it was mirroring shortage of higher education facilities in the country, amidst high demand.

Whatever the case, Victoria University stood out! What I found on ground upon taking on my new role was a modern culturally diverse cosmopolitan University in central Kampala, with all the environmental recipes for an ideal learning environment! Student-tutor ratios were optimal with lots of spacious classrooms, a fully-fledged library and skills laboratory!

Energetic scholars had just returned from field placements, where they had interfaced with and provided health services to disadvantaged communities during their recess term! Among them where Maria Ssematiko, Winnie Apolot and Irene Samari.

At the university, they mingled freely with faculty and where not shy to share of their experiences with their new Dean. It appeared that student-faculty communication was good. Just like the students, faculty members where from all corners of globe. In general, these conditions mirrored what I had left behind at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, 200 years older than Victoria University!

Five months have passed since I took on the new position as Dean of Faculty of Health Sciences at the Victoria University. My observations, reviews of past andcurrent strategic plans, interactions with faculty and students, among others, indicate that Victoria University is growing at an exponential pace to become a world class University!

Last week I presided over the defense of three bachelors theses in Public Health Sciences, which is one of four programs offered at the Faculty of Health Sciences. As Dean of the faculty, I had carefully matched each thesis with a set of three appropriate independent expert examiners in line with the University policies and recommendations. The following is a summary of the three important theses Authored by Ms. Maria Ssematiko, Ms. Winnie Apolot and Ms. Irene Samari respectively.

Thesis I

Anaemia, a condition characterized by low blood haemoglobin concentration, is currently a global public health problem that has adverse health consequences. It is a result of iron deficiency in the body, mainly due to poor nutritional practices and is therefore a preventable.

Yet, a striking 40% of the world’s children under 5 years old are affected by the disease, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) statistics. Using data from over 1000 women extracted from the Uganda Demographic and Health Surveys, Ms. Maria Ssematiko’s thesis assessed the influence of women’s demographic and empowerment features on anaemia status among their children (0-5) years old.

Ms. Ssematiko’s study found the prevalence of anaemia among Ugandan children under 5 years to be as high as 65%, which is 25% more than the global average! Further investigation revealed that maternal illiteracy, teen-age motherhood and residing in rural settings increased the likelihood of having a child with anaemia among Ugandan Women.

In addition, the study identified significant religious and ethnic variations in the prevalence of Anaemia. According, Ms. Ssematiko recommended that interventions to address infant Anaemia should target and be tailored to suit mothers with specific socio-demographic characteristics (identified in her study), if Anemia is to be effectively controlled at National level in Uganda.

Thesis II

Immunization is proven to be the most effective way of preventing mortality of children below five years. Yet, infant mortality remains relatively high in Uganda at 43 deaths per 1000 live births. An understanding of both the demand (i.e. caretaker) and supply (i.e. caregiver) factors can inform effective interventions to reduce immunization related mortality.

The thesis of Ms. Winnie Apolot assessed and identified parental and health facility factors that negatively influence completion of immunization services. Using data generated from 185 mothers in Budumbili west as a case study, Ms. Apolot found poor knowledge of immunization schedules among parents to reduce the likelihood of immunization completion.

Surprisingly, unlike previous studies, Ms, Winnie Apolot’s study did not find any association between general education levels and completion of Immunization. Ms. Apolot concluded that these finding have the implication that generic interventions alone (e.g. universal primary/secondary education) my not adequately address the gap in immunization practices among mothers. The study emphasized the need to complement general education with comprehensive orientation of mothers about the immunization process at the community level,by healthcare providers.

Thesis III

The World Health Organization estimates that 10% of the African population lives with some form of disability. There is broad consensus among researchers that disability influences the mental wellbeing of People living With Disabilities (PWDs).

However, not all PWDs encounter mental health problem, and the research on factors that may distinguish between PWDs who develop mental distress and those who do not is lacking. Ms. Irene Samari’s thesis set out to fill this research gap.

Using data generated from 130 PWDs from CoRSU (Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services Uganda), a facility offering services to people with disability in central Uganda, the study found the prevalence of psychological distress (which is a generic indicator of mental illness) among PWDs to be ashigh as 70%.

The characteristics among PWDs that increased the likelihood of distress included young age, being single, socio-economic disadvantage (reflected in low education and low income), and having another health condition besides the disability (i.e. Comorbidity). Ms. Samari concluded that interventions to reduce distress among PWDs should be comprehensive, targeting the identified risk groups as well as detecting and dealing with comorbid conditions among PWDs.    

The global, regional and community relevanceof these bachelors’ theses cannot be overemphasized. The millennium development goals (MDGs) 3,4 and 5highlighted several aspects related to these works including reduction of high child mortality rates, and closing the gap in health and healthcare utilizationamong disadvantaged populations.

Though tremendous progress was made in the achievement of the MDGs by 2015, significant gaps remained and the research of Maria, Winnie and Irene remain relevant in addressing these gaps. They incorporate an understanding that research on risk factors for ill health, uptake and supply of health services can provide important insight for preventive and curative interventions targeted at specific groups at risk in the communities.

They provide evidence ofbarriers to the effective uptake and supply of health services, emanating from the healthcare supply side as well as the demand side. They underline the importance of a comprehensive approach in addressing these health risk and gaps in delivery, and finally, they exhibit the high level of training and research of relevance for the global community offered at the Victoria University.

Congratulation Maria, Winnie and Irene for your important contribution to global health research! The challenge remains in the translation of your findings from paper to interventions that will transform the lives of the populations you have studied. It is my hope that your research journey has not ended here. You started it; you either finish it or encourage those following you to pick up from where you stopped! Aluta Continua, Victoria University on your journey towards excellence in education, research and community service!

Professor Stephen Lawoko, Dean Faculty of Health Sciences, Victoria University

What You Need To Know About Education And Social Transformation

By Kasirye Fred

A lot has been said and documented about education and its potential in transforming society. Indeed this has also been witnessed in many parts of the world and thus the investment people continue to make in education of masses around the globe with the hope of transforming society.

Education in itself is not merely limited to classroom experiences but, aholistic and experiential learning aimedat social transformation. The reason we partake of the challenge is to define ourselves in the wider society where we live as influential contributors to growth and social structuring for better livelihood.

It is therefore rather absurd when you ask a third world student why they enrolled on a course and their answer is “because it’s marketable”. This is not only a misconception of the need to attain education but greatly puts across the question as to whether we all know why we at one point made the decision/ or someone made the decision for us to enroll in school.

The many challenges in the 3rd world should directly respond to the creation of more opportunity. Our reason to go to school should be to end these challenges of poverty, unemployment, famine, drought, corruption and the list goes on depending on where one comes from.

Right form history, innovations, discoveries and inventions the world over largely owe their existence to education and so shall the future without doubt. However, as a community in the third world we continue to graduate engineers that cannot make innovations for social transformation, social workers that fear to engage with the community challenges in the rural areas, public administrators that breed corruption ad divert public funds and the like.

In this case we clearly notice that education indeed can cause social breakdown in some instances such as these. Its then that all of us serving in the education sector need to revisit our purpose, and more so how we conduct day to day business in and outside the classroom. Until we know we are part of the problem as educationists/ academia, and also that we are part of the solution it will not be easy to find a lasting remedy to the ills education breeds for society.

Focusing on the game changers

At the end of your primary leaving examination, your parents congratulate you upon the completion of a landmark level in your education career, aggregate four is awaited and behold if you get it right, the four is in hand a great celebration is in order. But the cycle continues as you go even higher, senior four, senior six and then University where you graduate with a bachelor’s degree.

But why is it that after this investment in the graduate, he/ she stays “unoccupied” and consider themselves jobless instead of moving out to create solutions to the challenges of the world and his/her environs. Largely people will say it’s the lack of jobs and indeed it is a good reason but it is not a satisfactory reason in a community where social problems continue to multiply and require educated brains to solve them.

Just like lifestyle responds to trends, education delivery needs to respond to trends. Today unlike in the past we are building on already existing knowledge and not creating totally knew knowledge from scratch. 20th century teaching methods are unlikely going to impact on the 21st century learner however good the facilitator / lecturer might be or even the information prepared for the class. The method of delivery will determine if learning actually takes place and therefore shall create the future expected of every learner. I shall pronounce a three level effort in the ideal direction.

  1. University funding.

The cream of the country’ educated cannot keep around to nature the young generations for long due to the failure of the local universities to deploy them. Low pay, poor research culture, and low motivation will drive the researchers to greener pastures. A country will need data as a basis to plan but due to the inability to undertake credible researches since the highly educated are off to greener pastures, a gap stays unserved.

While there is a lot of government and NGO funding for primary and secondary schools, for the purposes of engineering social transformation its high time the funding be put to universities to engage in more research and provide a direction. With the relevant researches done, governments will have a partner in education institutions to inform strategy and thus reduce speculative spending thereby supporting social transformation.

  1. Ensuring Learning

It is true that there is huge unemployment in the third world, but it is also true that the actively employed do more than one job in some cases in the same sector. In the education sector it is even worse. A primary school teacher will teach in more than five schools in order to break even. Same for the secondary school teacher they will settle for a multitude of classes, just to live at the bare minimum in their society.

This habit creeped to the universities, and now indeed scholars are in the market place. It is ethically wrong to present as a teacher and fail at your primary role of ensuring learning. In this part of the would education has further been abused to make it a traumatizing experience where learners are humiliated for poor performance, made to repeat classes and are thus embarrassed, and creating an environment of authoritative teacher / submissive student relationship.

This kind of environment builds a cram and answer the exam atmosphere. It doesn’t build a learning culture. The competition created is not healthy and in many cases has caused unnecessary examination malpractices. Why would a school cheat in an examination?

Silently I hear the answer to grow its numbers and confidence in the parents, but it’s a simple principle, trash in trash out, these seemingly small cases will bread the corrupt government officials in tomorrow’s world. Right from the ministry of education down to the education institutions, a culture of learning should be propagated through putting in place structures to ensure learning and not academic competition.

  1. Student / learner support

Basic education provides for laid down teacher/ student ratios for ideal classes, a library for referencing and a staff room for face to face between teachers/ lecturers and the learners. Unfortunately this support to learners is fast taking the exit route. Schools today and even universities will provide space for lecture room but none for staff, and neither for the library.

The explanation will be that the teachers/ lecturers are part time and the library can be obtained virtually. This without doubt is the epitome of neglect of duty. Students / learners would at all-time wish to consult with their trainers, practice what they are learning if they will confidently apply it when off campus. It is an open education secret that learning for transformation can only take place when the student and the teacher appreciate that each has a role to play in this calling.

The student to present themselves for the learning and the lecturer to offer the platform for this learning to take place. Any institution that will not provide for student support mechanisms will take on the comfort of an academic shop and not an education institution.

Conclusion

Education to date has the capacity to transform the communities in which we stay for the better, however as partners in providing education, we must rethink delivery, funding priorities and the learning environment if we are to realize the social transformation we all desire.

Kasirye Fred, is a Lecturer at Victoria University Kampala

Amazing Use Of ICT In Aviation Industry

By Dr Terry Kahuma

As a young kid, whenever a person asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would tell them “a pilot”. Till now, I marvel at how a huge vessel like an airplane is able to rise up, with so much weight, and soar the sky.

Fortunately, in my working life, I’ve been able to fly all over the world, to all continents, logging so many hours in my object of fascination. Some flights have been so long that, including long transit times, up to two or three days have passed and the first question I ask when I land is “which day of the week is it”?

A workmate of mine was so tired when he flew to the United States that he boarded a different connecting local flight and had to be assisted to board a totally unscheduled flight to his proper destination.

On one such flight, before terrorism became such a menace, as I waited for the flight to take off, I sauntered into the cockpit and asked the pilot how the plane flies all the way from Entebbe to say Amsterdam deep in the night, and even land when the pilot cannot use ordinary vision.

He told me that the on-board computers together with the GPS (global positioning system) are able to guide the flight towards the destination once the pilot enters the co-ordinates of the destination airport. Moreover, the computer operated navigation system works out the safest, most economic and most convenient route, within the confines of permission to overfly certain countries, allowable altitudes, avoidance of war zones, and taking into account other flights operating at the time.

I have since established that the GPS system is anchored on signals emitted by orbiting communication satellites which house very accurate atomic clocks which send signals continuously to a receiver in the aircraft. The receiver, aided by computers, uses the time difference in the signals sent by at least 6 of the satellites to calculate the aircraft’s position.

This determination is coupled together with the output of the IRS (Inertial Reference System) which comprises three laser gyroscopes positioned at right angles to each other and are able to detect any azimuthal movement of the plane. The on-board computers translate this into translational movement on the ground.

The plane’s Flight Management Computer takes the positions computed by the GPS and IRS and computes the actual location of the aircraft which is updated 30 times a second. Through this process, the pilot knows exactly where he/she is at any time. By the aid of other detecting and measuring devices, the forces exerted by wind are also taken into account to guide the plane accurately to the desired direction.

When other flights are using the airspace in the same area, the flights are allocated different altitudes to avoid collisions. Computers in these different flights even “talk” to each other so that when they “feel” that a collision is imminent, one becomes master and the other a slave, and the slave gets directed to move higher or lower.

Computers store all operations and communications on the flight into a data recorder and a flight recorder or black box, so as to guide investigations if an accident occurs.

Flying has been made quite a safe mode of travel by extensive use of ICT to aid navigation and flight operation, considering the low accident rate compared with the huge volume of passenger traffic.

ICT use in aviation extends to booking, scheduling, flight control, payments, radar operation, weight determination, balance of the aircraft, loading, altitude measurement, instrument landing, communication to ground-based beacons, communication to ground-based stations, instrument readings and display, warning signals, fire detection, engine performance monitoring, emergency operation, cargo tagging and tracking, etc.

All these were once only manually operated, and it is difficulty to appreciate just how pilots managed without the aid of ICT. When we study ICT, we advance the boundaries of such a wonderful industry and contribute massively to easing travel and cargo transportation.

Dr.Terry Kahuma is the Dean Faculty of Science and Technology at Victoria University Kampala

Beyond Access: Breaking Barriers For Women In Agriculture

By Jemimah Njuki

I first met Memory in Kasungu, in the Northern part of Malawi. Memory, a mother of six, farmed on a one acre piece of land alongside her husband. Every year, they planted maize and beans, often from seed that they had saved from the last season, or bought in the market.

The previous season however, they had been lucky. A government subsidy program had provided them with improved seed and fertilizer, they had expanded their farm and the harvest was good.

When I asked Memory, how life had changed for her and her family, her answer was not as simple as I had expected. Yes, the family had harvested more maize, more than they had ever harvested. But this had come with additional costs.

Her workload had increased, it meant she had to spend more time on the farm doing tasks that men shunned as women’s work, such as weeding and harvesting, this in addition to looking after her six children.

Her husband had sold most of the maize and beans, despite her pleas to save some of it for food in case the next season did not go well. They had quarreled, and for a few weeks, she had gone to live with her parents.

Her husband argued he was the head of the household, and he had a right to make decisions on the sale of the maize. After all, the land belonged to him, and to his father before that.

While access to inputs and technologies is important for women, Memory’s story shows us that it is equally important to address the harmful social and cultural norms that prevent women from making decisions that can improve their lives, such as owning property, land, and controlling finances.

The future of our continent depends on it. In sub-Saharan Africa, gender inequality costs us an estimated US$ 95 billion a year.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the agriculture sector, which employs 63% of economically active women. We know, for example, that if women were given the same access to productive resources such as fertilizers, machinery and information as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20 to 30 percent.

But closing this gap in access to resources does not automatically lead to gender equality and the empowerment of women. Explicit efforts are needed to ensure that the engagement of women in agriculture delivers benefits for women. Only then will it benefit entire families, societies and economies.

First, we need to address the enormous burden of work for rural women. In developing countries in Africa and Asia women typically work between 12 to 13 hours per week more than men doing farm work, care work. In sub-Saharan Africa women spend about 40 billion hours a year collecting water.

In Tanzania alone, increasing access to water would free up women’s working hours and, if converted into paid employment, would be equivalent to 1 million new full-time jobs for women. Investments in improved agricultural technologies can also improve efficiency of household tasks and save women’s time.

A project funded by IDRC in Kenya and Uganda, developed precooked bean products that reduced cooking time for beans, a common source of protein, from 3 hours to 15 minutes saving on women’s time, water and firewood. We need more investments like this that reduce the burden of work for rural women.

Second, we need to address the gender and social norms that still determine what a woman’s place is in terms of household decision making and ownership of property.

In Kenya for example, despite a very progressive constitution that guarantees inheritance of land by sons and daughters, only one percent of land titles are held by women with another five percent held by women jointly with men.

In much of sub-Saharan Africa, a society’s perception is still that women and girls should not own land. Approaches that challenge these norms and engage men are being tested in a few places.

In Malawi and Zambia, for example, a fisheries project funded by IDRC has been using theatre to shift perceptions on women’s roles in the fisheries sector. Decision making by women on use of income has risen by 32 percentage points. Projects like these that seek to understand and tackle entrenched social norms should be replicated.

Finally, we need to invest in data and evidence on what works for empowering women in agriculture. In 2013, USAID’s Feed the Future program developed the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index.

Using this index, people working in agriculture and development can track what impact their innovations have on women’s empowerment in the sector. Such data can tell us what is working and what needs to be taken to scale.

As the agriculture community in Africa converges at the African Green Revolution Forum in Abidjan in September, I hope that we not only discuss what women can do for agriculture, but what agriculture, and we in the agriculture community can do to ensure that agriculture serves women, their families, communities and economies.

Dr Jemimah Njuki is a Senior Program Specialist at Canada’s International Development Research Centre where she manages a portfolio of agriculture and food security, and women's empowerment projects. She is an Aspen News Voices Fellow.

Courses Need To Be Backed By A Solid Reputation Of Research

The Vice Chancellor of Victoria University Kampala Dr. Krishna N. Sharma has said that good courses taught in high learning institutions ‘must be backed by backed by a solid reputation of research.

The Vice Chancellor was speaking to this website in an exclusive interview just as the Ruparelia owned Jinja road based university kicks of a fresh semester.

“Victoria University is a research active institution where students enjoy the benefits of working with research experts who are also teaching, thus ensuring that the latest developments underpin and inform students.

Through our research reputation we have developed strategic partnerships with international institutions thus giving our students a truly global perspective on developments in their field.”

Victoria University is an Institution of higher learning licensed by National Council for Higher Education. And to qualify for the Dr Sudhir Ruparelia Scholarship Grant, a candidates must meet certain selection criteria.

Victoria University has a dedicated and experienced International Student support team which offers a wide range of support for International Students from airport Collection, orientation programmes, Ugandan VISA Advice and renewals as well as Social Activities.

The University also offer a Foundation course for international students from non English speaking countries.

We Train And Prepare Our Students For Global Job Market – Victoria University

Victoria University is preparing their students to be able to compete and get jobs not only in Uganda but also anywhere else in the world, the vice chancellor Dr. Krishnna N. Sharma told secondary school students at the Victoria University Open Day last week.

“In our classes, you can find about eight or ten nationalities so when we are teaching a concept we are not only thinking about Kampala but international scenarios. Our teacher – student ratio is very strong; we have a smaller group so the lecturer knows each and every student,” Dr. Sharma said in his address at the Open Day.

Dr. Sharma reveals that they are collaborating with international universities in India, Pakistan, Mauritius, Canada and Sweden to give their students international experience and global skills.

“We are sending our students to different countries so that they can have international exposure,” he added. He explained that at Victoria University passing on knowledge to students is more prioritized than students passing exams when they have attained no skills and workplace experience.

“Are you going to look for the job only in Kampala, no, we stay in a global village and you should know what is happening elsewhere. We prepare our students for international market,”

Dr. Sharma was recently confirmed as vice chancellor having briefly served as dean faculty of health science. He is an academician and author with medical background with more than hundred publications. He has supervised more than 60 researches.

“I have many dreams for the university as a Vice Chancellor, and I am sure I am going to take the University with the help of my colleagues. My focus still remains on research, innovation, publication and outreach.”

Victoria University located on Jinja road has four functional faculties offering a wide range of practical courses. It has the faculty of humanities and social sciences, faculty of business and management, faculty of science and technology and faculty of health sciences.

 

Take Necessary Precautions Before Considering Nuclear Energy

The demand for reliable, affordable and accessible energy that meets the needs of the present generation in an increasing one as demand to reduce poverty, improve health, increase productivity and promote economic growth, this has already reached desperate levels due to challenges of energy insecurity. While assessing the current energy options, debates on whether nuclear energy offers the best alternative to satisfy the needs of the world’s energy demands or will end up as an energy that resulted into extinction of humanity on earth. 

While the debate goes on, recently the government of Uganda signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Russia rolling out plans to exploit Uganda’s Uranium, a resource used to produce nuclear energy resources. If all goes as planned, Uganda will become among the first African country to exploit nuclear energy in recent times. 

According to Surveys from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, Uganda has about 52,000 square kilometers (sq. km) of Uranium deposits, with 22,000 sq. kilometers in the Lake Albert region, 18,000 sq. kilometers in Buganda and Tooro regions, and 12,000 sq. km in Karagwe-Ankole. 

With the challenges of climate change and energy insecurity around the world, Nuclear energy has the potential to generate the much-needed energy with small amount of uranium to power the world to secure energy future.  In fact, due to its efficiency and abidance in nature, it has the potential to solve the worlds energy challenges and contribute to mitigating climate change, its emits less or no greenhouse gases into the atmosphere as compared to other non-renewable energy sources. 

However, to sustainably it, more advanced technology must be employed with advanced precautionary measures employed because in the event of an accident, radioactive material from Uranium could be released into the environment and its waste can remain radioactive and hazardous to health for thousands of years with visible impacts across generations. 

Despite the facts that it’s the energy for 21st century, it has been characterized by a number of disasters that have left people worse off than they were. For instance, Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) a an American based humanitarian organisation estimates that the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine displaced nearly 220,000 people from their homes, and the radioactive fallout from the accident destroyed 4,440 square kilometers of agricultural land and 6,820 square kilometers of forests in Belarus and Ukraine were unusable.  Further, the Fukushima nuclear accidents of 2011 that was caused by a powerful earthquake and Tsunami killed more than 20,000 lives and affected different sectors of the economy. 

If we consider developing nuclear energy, it is important for government to borrow lessons from the best countries, invest heavily on advanced technology and built competent human resource with capacity to contain any adverse effects the plant may have on the environment. 

Otherwise, it is clear that renewable energy technology including solar, wind, geothermal, hydro energy among others offer the best alternatives and are safe to both environment and people and have the potential to power the world into an energy secure future. 

By Samuel Okulony

Programmes and Research Coordinator (Environmentalist)

Africa Institute for Energy Governance

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Avoid Past Mistakes In The Buliisa Ongoing Oil Compensation Processes

This week, during our field visit in Ngwedo Sub county, Buliisa district by the Civic Response on Environment and Development (CRED), I noticed various posters of cut-off date announcements for the Resettlement Action Plan (RAP 1) Industrial Area.

According to the information on the posters, the final cut-off date for the area demarcated for the industrial area was 16th May 2017. The cut-off date is when the eligibility for resettlement and compensation is established and completed. After the cut-off date, any social and economic activities put up in the demarcated industrial area are not eligible for compensation or resettlement. Any new persons that move or settle into the demarcated area will equally not be eligible for compensation or resettlement.

As government and Joint Venture Partners(CNOOC Uganda Ltd, Total E &P Uganda and Tullow Oil Uganda Ltd move in to the development phase that will lead in to the production of oil, one of the facilities to be developed is the Industrial Area. The development of the Industrial Area which includes the Central Processing Facility (CPF), access roads, operational camps and yards will require permanent acquisition of land.

Total E&P Uganda and Tullow oil Uganda, assisted by ATACAMA Consulting in association with Synergy Global Limited and Nomad Consulting have identified and completed the  demarcation of the land required for the Industrial Area within Ngwedo Sub county, Buliisa district.

We appreciate the ongoing government’s efforts towards this milestone. This presents a tremendous opportunity for national development.  The processing of oil will generate more revenues which, if well utilized, will enable the government to provide the much needed social and economic services such as employment, quality health and education, clean water, good roads and many other amenities to improve the living standards of Ugandans. However, while the cut-off date for RAP 1 Industrial Area was set, none of the affected people and local leaders I talked too seems to know exactly when the compensations will be paid.

People claim they were told not to build any new houses or grow crops for they will not be considered for compensation. Yet, they have not yet been communicated when they will receive their compensation.

The question is; why do the project implementers find it ok to setting the cut-off date without disclosing when affected people will be compensated?  Which of the two is more important and of interest to the affected people? The residents of Ngwedo would be interested to know when they will get compensated or resettled.

Setting the cut-off date without disclosing to people when they will be compensated is similar to denying them their rights to land. This is because you have restricted them from conducting certain activities on their own land.  That’s stopping people from using their property before compensation which is in contravention of Article 26 of the Ugandan Constitution. 

Article 26 of the Constitution provides that: (1)         Every person has a right to own property, and (2)          No person shall be compulsorily deprived of property or any interest in or right over property of any description except where the following conditions are satisfied (a) the taking of possession or acquisition is necessary for public use, (b) the compulsory taking of possession or acquisition of property is made under a law which makes provision for prompt payment of fair and adequate compensation, prior to the taking of possession or acquisition of the property. 

Experience from Kabaale Hoima, the refinery affected area show that, the project implementers set a cut-off date of 2nd June 2012 upon which any development made on the land was not to be compensated. The government made the announcement for compensation of 29SKM of land (involving 7,118 people) in 2012 and the first phase of the payment was effected in 2014 that is  2 years later which resulted into a lot of grievances.

Since 2012, the 93 families have been waiting for their full resettlement package – an alternative piece of land and a modern house for each household but for now five years, they are still waiting. This is torturing mentally and emotionally as it makes it difficult for the affected people to plan for their families. 

In addition to setting the cut off dates, Project implementers should  give  information regarding when people shall leave, how much they shall be paid as compensation or where they shall be resettled and work towards the set timeframe. This way, affected people will benefit and be certain about their future. These people need to plan for their families but this will be impossible with no knowledge of when they will be compensated and relocated.

Most residents of Buliisa have grass thatched houses which requires one to keep renovating from time to time. If compensation takes longer, people’s houses will collapse on them as they wait to be compensated and resettled. 

The Ngwedo affected residents need assurance that the payment would be timely and fair. Further, Government and companies should appreciate that as third parties, CSOs can play a very big role when it comes to resolution of community development challenges and problems.

They should therefore partner to organize and facilitate discussions with communities, offer capacity building programs to enable communities to have various alternative investment opportunities, verify the payment and payment procedures with the communities, resolve conflicts among others.

Doris Atwijukire
Civic Response on Environment and Development (CRED)
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Bunyoro Minister, Kinyara Sugar Grilled Over Exploitation Of Farmers

 

By George Busiinge

Kinyara Sugar Factory officials, the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Masindi and the state minister for Bunyoro affairs, Ernest Kiiza, were last week grilled by the district leaders and the sugar cane farmers’ representatives over exploitation of farmers by Kinyara.

The trio was grilled on Wednesday during a stakeholders meeting that was organized by the Resident District Commissioner Masindi, Godfrey Nyakahuma at Kabalega Resort.

Speaker after speaker blamed Kinyara for failing to handle issues which oppress sugar cane farmers which include under paying farmers, delayed harvesting of cane, delayed payment among others.

Cosmas Byaruhanga, the chairperson LCV, Masindi district, accused Kinyara Sugar management for not being transparent noting that as leaders in Masindi have engaged Kinyara over many issues all in vein adding that Kinyara does this because state protects them.

Byraruhanga added that unless Kinyara comes and start protecting the farmers that is when the farmers will be relieved of the tribulations they are going through. He added that what is hurting them is the state to protect the investor at the expense of the farmers saying that the state is a 100% leaning on the side of investors.

Robert Atugonza, the chairperson Masindi district out growers Association, said that if Kinyara doesn’t style up its operations, farmers will cause a demonstration noting that is optimistic that this will cause scarcity of sugar in the country.

Atugonza added that they are going to organize a demonstration because Kinyara is paying cane farmers peanuts adding that when the time for the demonstration reaches, the RDC should grant them permission such that they can show the world the exploitation they are going through.

Jos wamara a sugar cane farmer from Bwijanga Sub County explained that farmers are being exploited because this matter might have not been brought to the attention of the president maintaining that what they want is timely harvesting and payment farmers.

He added that if these issues were addressed to the president, he wouldn’t have issued a directive stopping sugar cane from moving outside Masindi. One of the resolutions which were reached at was the RDC Masindi Godfrey Nyakahuma gave an ultimatum of one week to the haulage manager to have eliminated spillage of cane or be arrested.

Speaking during the same meeting, Visnu, the Finance controller Kinyara also who represented the General Manager accepted to look into the issues which were addressed to him noting that they are going to ensure that they improve where they have not been moving well.

Ernest Kiiza the Bunyoro affairs Minister promised to take up the issues distressing the farmers and also dismissed allegations revealed by Cosmas Byarruhanga the LCV masindi district that the state has done nothing but exploiting them at the expense of the farmers.

Learners Need To Think Out Of The Box – University Dean

What you study in school can hardly contribute 20% of your success, the rest of the things come from your attitude towards the world, how committed and motivated you are, therefore students need to think out of the box in order to excel in life, a university dean told a regional student camp gathering in Kampala

The advice was recently given by Dr. Krishna Sharma, the Dean Faculty of Health Sciences, Victoria University Kampala, while addressing students from Ugandan Schools and Neighboring Country Schools on success tips during the official opening of the 2017, Reach a Hand Students #GetUpSpeakOut Camp at Hana International School.

“It doesn’t matter if you score 90% in class. It’s not going to determine your future, it’s not going to guarantee success. Don’t go into rat race of marks and percentages, rather than that, focus on the cross pollination of knowledge. Be time conscious – have time management and motivated. Try to be skillful and useful rather than a machine of producing good marks in class.”

“I started early in life, at 18 I published my first book. Trust and have faith in your ideas. Don’t fear to fail. My friends and family had faith in my ideas. One of my book project was rejected by more than 25 publishers and I decided to publish it on my own. This book become my first best seller.

When that book became the best seller, it gave me confidence. If over 25 publishers failed to evaluate my book, it is possible that lecturers can fail to evaluate students. We are producing for the market therefore the best evaluator is the employer,” the academician told students from Uganda to Burundi, Kenya and Rwanda.

The annual youth camp organized by Reach A Hand Uganda is one of the many engagements the University has put in place to ensure they facilitate a smooth transition of students from secondary to University life. They have visited various schools like Vienna College Namugongo, St Peters SS Namugongo, Bishop Cyprian Kihangire and Nalya SS so that they uplift these youngsters.

“This is where our first clients (students) come from. We equip these students with the skills and assist them before leaving secondary school to join university. We give them different competencies and skills. This is what we take to them.” Abdul Kalanzi, marketing and recruitment specialist at Victoria University said in an interview.  

 

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