Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences has launched a NORAD funded project titled, “Building capacity for REDD+ in East Africa for improved ecosystem health and for sustainable livelihoods in Eastern Africa (UGA- 13/0019).
REDD+ in full is reduction of emissions from deforestation, forest degradation, plus conserving forest carbons stocks, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.
The 3 million USD project was launched on February 18, 2013 at a colourful ceremony held at the School of Food Technology Conference room where the Minister of State for Environment Hon. Flavia Munaaba presided over as Chief Guest.
In her speech the Minister expressed happiness over a new wave of interaction, consultations and involvement of various stakeholders in University activities saying this was a clear message from the University of the desire to contribute more towards development impact in our country.
Minister Hon. Munaaba told participants that Climate change was no longer a myth but a reality manifested by the rise in global temperatures of about 0.8 degree centigrade over and above the pre-industrial levels causing unprecedented impacts on human societies and biodiversity such as droughts, floods, cyclones, and increases in sea levels.
“Here in Uganda, floods are now occurring more frequently, we have experienced frequent landslides and floods in low lying areas. Other impacts are the now frequent water borne diseases like cholera. All these are causing our country Uganda considerable costs to rescue affected populations, replace infrastructure or to build new resilient infrastructure” the minister said.
She reminded participants that the change in climate has been forced by the accumulation of greenhouse gases necessitating the global world to respond by measures of mitigation and adaptation of ecosystems and humans.
“So, one of the mitigation actions open to the world is reducing emissions of greenhouse gases by avoiding deforestation and forest degradation as well as enhancing and conserving forest carbon stocks and sustainable management of forests”. Hon .Munaaba advised
She said her ministry was leading the negotiations of REDD+ in Uganda under the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) of the World Bank where it has has been able to draft the REDD+ Readiness Preparation Proposal (RPP), and to also conduct pilot and demonstration projects.
She stressed that countries like Uganda intending to implement REDD+ must have a national REDD+ strategy or action plan; establish a national reference emission and/or forest reference level; a country wide national forest monitoring system and and information system on safeguards.
“In Uganda, we are in advanced stages of developing the REDD+ strategy. This project as I have heard is going to fill a critical niche of developing capacity of University academicians to implement REDD+ activities and fill knowledge gaps including determining baselines for REDD+ implementation”. The minister said.
Hon. Minister Flavia Munaba(L), DVAA Dr. Okello Ogwang and CAES Principal Prof. Benard Bashaasha.
The Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Academic Affairs (DVCAA) Makerere University Dr. Okello Ogwang said the project which is a collaboration between Makerere University, the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (Norway) and University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) was intended to strengthen capacity of Central government, local government, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and community institutions to plan and implement REDD+.
The DVCAA said Africa for some number of decades has been a fertile ground for all sorts of conflicts which have distorted of human resources and infrastructural capacities describing such projects as an opportunity to strengthen universities. He appreciated the staff efforts and capabibility respond to calls for proposals, compete and win .
“These projects will provide resources for strengthening capacities of our Universities to implement their mandate. Makerere University is very privileged to be associated with these capacity building efforts whose activities are going to span the entire region”,
He also stressed that in order to restore and attain the calibre of Universities needed in Africa, the region must work together and capitalise on their strengths to ensure percolation of mutual benefits. He expressed happiness that Makerere University was not only taking lead in this NORAD project, but also a key partner to other projects.
Dr. Ogwang further expressed gratitude to the development partners for choosing Makerere University as a University of choice collaborative engagements pledging to do the best to deliver intended outputs. He also thanked the Principal Investigators, their teams and their international and regional partners especially the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (Norway) and University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) for this REDD+ project.
“This project will foster capacity building and regional integration in the field of higher education through institutional networking. It will also support higher education of quality that is efficient and relevant to the needs of the labour market and consistent with the member countries socio - economic development priorities”.