Scoping Trial, Uganda

Scoping Trials

Sustainable Futures in Africa is an interdisciplinary collective aiming to build understanding, research, and practice in socio-ecological sustainability in Africa. In order for relationships to be built, methodologies to be explored, and to achieve the shared understanding that is aspired for, the SFA network is running trial research projects. These are being run with an emphasis on the trial and error aspect, for researchers to explore the unfamiliar, social scientists exploring hard science and vice versa. Furthermore colleagues in Glasgow will take every opportunity to work with the projects in Nigeria, Uganda, and Botswana as they develop.

The Ugandan research trial will take place from the first of June, running until the 22nd June when Daniel Koehn, University of Glasgow, departs from Kampala. The locations will be in the community of Kibanjwa village, Kibanjwa Parish, Kitoba Sub-County, Hoima district (Albertine region) and the Alebtong district.

Dr. Hannington Twine outlines the research methods and design below:

Field Approvals

In both study sites, our contact persons will use their ongoing research approvals and contacts to introduce the rest of the team to the communities.' Dr. Alex Okot who is a board member of Apala Widows and Orphanage Centre will take an advance visit ahead of the Ugandan research team. He will inform the Local Council Officials in writing of the visit to the organisation. Likewise, Ms. Kellen Aganyira has ongoing research engagement in the Albertine region and she will use her current approvals to introduce the team to Local Council officials of Kibanjwa in Hoima district.

Methodology

This field trial visits will approach the communities without a pre-conceived research design. The interest of team Uganda will be to understand the communities’ perception of the environmental issues and ecosystems. We shall enter the communities as learners or listening posts. We shall provide direction of the discussions by a problem posing approach, that is, probing and prompting them to talk about issues related the environment, biodiversity and ecosystems.

Data collection

The data collection will be by the researchers themselves in partnership with the community members in the respective regions. a collaborative process. We will be assisted with local council officials especially on the planed transect walks. Due to language differences, we shall require services of one interpreter in northern Uganda. This is because we shall be divided into two transect walk groups and yet we only have one person among us who communicates properly in the local dialect. In the Albertine region, there will be no need of an interpreter since two members in the group understand the local dialect and we shall only have one group for the transect walk.

Data collection will be by way of observations, transect walks, Community forums and journaling. We intend to capture images of humans and their environment. Areas of special interest in this pilot study will include:

  1. Land tenure system
  2. Water sources and their management
  3. Landscape and geology
  4. Trees/forests and their importance to them
  5. Wetlands (relationship and importance)
  6. Agricultural practices (Animal husbandry and cultivation)
  7. Wild life (relationship and importance)

Team Members

Albertine Region

On the 9th June Daniel Koen will arrive in Kampala, Uganda, to join the rest of the Ugandan scoping trial team. Their interaction with the Kibanjwa Community, Kitoba Sub-County, Hoima district in the Albertine region will begin on the 11th June. The research will draw upon the existing issues surrounding oil and gas and the impact of this on the environmental area. The team will return to Kampala and Daniel will travel to the Rwenzori Mountains on the 14th June to further his personal research in the region.

See map below for the location of the research trial in Uganda.

Alebtong Region

On the 18th June the research team will then travel to the Alebtong Region where they will partner with Apala Widows and Orphanage Center to analyse issues that impact the locality such as the large refugee influx and the subsequent strain on resources alongside the local water sources to form a socioecological analysis. The research will draw to a close on the 22nd June when Daniel returns to Glasgow, Scotland.

See map below for the location of the research trial in Uganda.

In partnership with:


Telling Stories about Community Development; Why “Abundance” takes an integrated development approach

abundance-ngo-13_1

Written by Deepa Pullanikkatil

Post Doctoral Fellow, Rhodes University

Founder, Abundance

“A world of abundance, where there is plenty for humans and where nature is thriving”, is the vision of our non-profit organization in Malawi called “Abundance”. We have often been critiqued to be an organization that is focusing on too many things. “So, what is your area of focus?”, “Aren’t you doing too many different things, could you not narrow your projects down to one or two?” These are some of the questions people often ask us. To answer them, I tell stories; real life stories about people I have met while working in Malawi, one of the poorest countries in our world. These are the people who inspired Abundance, to take an integrated approach to development.

Supporting community participation is key

We were working on a climate change adaptation project in Lake Chilwa Basin in southern Malawi. It is a lake basin with 1.5 million people, predominantly subsistence rural communities with natural resource dependent livelihoods. We were confident in our thinking that we were providing ideal interventions for climate change adaptation to communities in the Lake Chilwa Basin. Feeling quite satisfied in the knowledge that we knew exactly what the communities needed to adapt, we brought forth interventions such as solar fish dryers, fuel efficient stoves and efficient fish smoking kilns; we promoted conservation agriculture, we provided trainings on climate change and with the communities we planted,  lots and lots of trees.  But when we went to the villages, we realised that women’s participation was not as good as it should be and that men had other challenges they wanted to share with us. Men came to us with their two main concerns, cholera and bilharzia (a debilitating disease caused by parasitic flatworms called schistosomes affecting the urinary tract) and asked us if we could do something about that. Women said that poor access to family planning and reproductive health services were the challenges they faced. The reasons for their reduced participation was now clear. How could men attend meetings when disease burden was so high? How could women participate actively when they had so many children or so many sick people to care for?

Why interconnectedness matters

Faced with the dilemma of how to address the health and family planning needs of communities through a climate change adaptation project with a specific livelihoods and environment focus, we realised that the way forward was to use an integrated approach. We could no longer take a sectoral approach, because communities did not live their lives in compartments. They lived integrated lives with needs that were interconnected. If we wanted to help them adapt, then we had to understand and work with interconnectedness. These often cuts across sectors and does not fall under a narrow themes of livelihoods or environment.  We had to open our eyes to these new perspectives.

In order to address the cholera and bilharzia challenges, we environmentalists were required to learn about disease and parasitology. We learnt that the challenge of bilharzia was partly created by well-intentioned irrigation coverage expansion. This was a method intended to help communities improve agriculture and adapt better. But in areas where bilharzia is endemic, increasing irrigation coverage allow snails which host the bilharzia causing parasite to spread to such waters, thus spreading bilharzia in to areas where previously it was not prevalent. In such a situation, environment, irrigation and health are intertwined. Without integrated planning there is risk of creating negative impacts through well-intentioned projects. We collaborated with health institutions and undertook research. We found prevalence of bilharzia was indeed high – up to 49% in some areas. The publication of the research was shocking to many and since then, a lot of attention shifted to the neglected disease of bilharzia, and help poured in.

It’s nice when people think you’re an expert

While doing research on bilharzia, as environmentalists, the first hurdle we had to overcome was that of our own ignorance, or lack of interest to work on a field that we knew nothing about. Mostly it was the fear of appearing ignorant, after all don’t we all like being the “experts”? We as environmentalists had to learn about health, about parasitology and diseases. Going beyond our comfort zone was a humbling experience and finally, in the end, as thousands of people got treated for Bilharzia, it was satisfying to see community needs met, exactly the way they should be met.

Starvation or prostitution: Families seeking solutions to problems caused by climate change

Read more


Global Challenges: from poverty, to environmental protection, from gender equality to health

In the name of “development,” in the name of “aid,” in the name of “international research and innovation,” billions of pounds and dollars have been spent from the Global North on challenges materialising in the Global South: from poverty, to environmental protection, from gender equality to health. Countless academics and administrators have focused innovation, invention, programmes, and practices on supporting development in the “developing world.” I question how much longer we might fund and focus resource and expertise from the global north to help to “fix” the problems of the Global South.

This flow of aid money, resources, and increasing global morality and mobility is building ever broader pipelines between the Global North and South, and yet there seems to be a terribly unsettling consistent characteristic of this development (of this globality). The reality is that the Global North (and to be fair an ever-decreasing section of the Global North) becomes ever more powerful and prosperous, ever more resilient to climate change; and the Global South addresses an ever-decreasing area of fertile land, an ever-growing population of people living in poverty, and an ever-increasing threat of food security. For all of our good intention, and all of the promises of funding and expertise, our “global challenges” persist and increase.

Something surely is going wrong. Something fundamental is missing. And it is not good intention that’s missing, it is not intelligence, and it is not funding resources. Last year, the UK Government committed 1.5 billion pounds to research into Global Challenges. Much of this money has been taken directly from budget previously held by the Department for International Development. The investment has moved from resourcing initiatives on the ground through charities and regional projects in Development Assistant Category (DAC) Countries to resourcing research into challenges in these same places. To spend this money, many clever, ambitious, and well-intentioned academics will design, propose, and articulate research and innovation that promises to make the world a better place. Many of them will do this from their office or with a group of colleagues in and around their office. Some of them will travel and have conversations with partners “in-country” – all of them will be racing to prove their capacity to spend this money wisely and productively. It is this same Global Challenge Fund that motivated me and resourced me to facilitate and report on the first meeting of the Sustainable Futures in Africa Network.

I proceed with a determination: That this network, that this recipient project of UK Research Council funding, works differently, and works with difference.

Read more


Building Connections: Community-Based Environmental Sustainability in Southern Africa

On the 15 and 16 of December 2016 an International Symposium was hosted at the University of Glasgow, funded by the ESRC.  Building Connections: Community-Based Environmental Sustainability in Southern Africa. The event was organised and run by the University of Glasgow scholars, Dr. Mia Perry (School of Education), and Prof. Deborah Dixon of (Geographical and Earth Sciences), and aimed at fostering research collaboration and knowledge-exchange across disciplines and between institutions based in Scotland, Wales, Malawi, and Botswana. Invited participants included Dr. Boyson Moyo (agronomist, Malawi), Prof. Rebecca Lekoko (community and adult education, Botswana), Dr. Olekae Thakadu (environmental management, Botswana), Dr. Deepa Pullanikkatil (environmental management, Malawi), as well as Elson Kambalu (artist and film maker from Lilongwe, Malawi). The UK based institutions were represented by Dr. Marc Welsh (remediation and resilience in Malawi, Aberystwyth University), and the University of Glasgow academics, including Dr. Neil Burnside (interdisciplinary geoscientist), Dr. Alan Britton (environmental education), Dr Carlos Galan Diaz (research impact), Dr. Margaret Smith (multidisciplinary agro-chemist), Dr. Ian Watson (applied physicist) and Kasia Uflewska (cultural sociologist and Ketso intern).

The Symposium opened with remarks by Prof. Mike Osborne, Director of Research for the School of Education, University of Glasgow, and was introduced by Dr. Mia Perry and Prof. Deborah Dixon. The activities, aimed at knowledge-sharing and presentations, commenced with a panel discussion addressing the environmental challenges in Southern Africa, and were followed by a briefing on funding opportunities for global challenges. The subsequent afternoon workshops focused on issues related to the community engagement, arts and public pedagogies, geographical and Earth sciences, as well as the research methodologies. The first day closed up with heated discussions on the challenges and opportunities for cross cultural, and cross discipline research in Southern African environmental sustainability, as well as on affordances and challenges of interdisciplinary research among academics, politicians and community members.

The second day of the Symposium commenced with introductions by Prof. John Briggs, (Professor of Geography, Vice-Principal for the University, and Clerk of Senate) and aimed at formalising ideas, and forming potential partnerships. The diverse ideas, perspectives, and interest areas were explored holistically and creatively through an employment of an engagement toolkit, Ketso. A brief Ketso introductory workshop was conducted by Kasia Uflewska to support participants in carrying out an extensive Ketso afternoon session aimed at formulating final ideas, collaborations and partnerships. The Symposium concluded with a formulation of actionable plans, including groundwork-planning, bid writing, and potential research collaborations.