Researchers from Makerere University Environment for Development Initiative (EfD-Mak) Centre on 7th September, 2021 converged in a seminar to learn from the EfD-Tanzania on how to effectively operate the centre to attract and motivate research fellows, mobilize resources, conduct research and influence policy.
The seminar held virtually and physically at EfD-Mak Conference room at Makerere University was officially opened by the Principal Makerere University College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS) represented by his Deputy Assoc. Prof. Yawe Bruno.
The seminar was facilitated by Dr. Byela Tibesigwa, a Senior Research Fellow from the EfD- Tanzania.
Dr. Yawe thanked the EfD-Tanzania and EfD-Mak centre for nurturing and managing the relationship noting that it speak volumes in terms of working together, mobilizing resources, building trust and partnerships.
Dr. Byela Tibesigwa highlighted Tanzania’s experience and the collaborative research recently conducted with development partners, universities and policy makers to drive policy oriented research.
She said the centre has senior and junior research fellows and a ten (10) member multi-stake holder policy board comprising ministries, the Vice president’s office, UNDP ,UNEP, Ministry of tourism, university lecturers, heads of departments, permanent secretaries, National Environmental Management Council, different embassies, among others.
“We identify key policy challenges and convene a policy board workshop once a year to highlight our research plans, engage with and get direction from the board”, she said.
In terms of attracting funding and co-funding, Dr. Byela described the Swedish embassy and the EfD Global Hub as very important reliable partners for funding and connection with other partners.
“We were so lucky to get additional funding from the Swedish embassy and the global hub that connected and allowed us nurture good relationships and linking us with partners like the World Bank, Government of Tanzania, Embassy of Norway, UK, Germany and many other development partners.
You want to keep senior and junior researchers interested besides the EfD core funding, get funds through consultancies and other funding. Invite government ministries and present ideas on their interest of funding. Keep advertising yourself, looking at policy interaction, keeping on news, and summaries in newspapers to attract funding”, Dr. Byela said.
Despite the minimum funding, Dr. Byela advised the center to come up with non-conventional ways to motivate and keep research fellows interested in center activities for example by mentoring their junior research fellows through lunch seminars.
“You can keep and motivate research fellows through research seminars outside the university. Hire the junior and senior research fellows to organize EfD tasks or events. Instead of centre administrators, let the junior and senior research fellows organize field tours.
Most research fellows target publications and making research that is relevant to drive policy dialogue in the country. Put them as authors in publications”, Dr. Byela Tibesigwa advised.
Dr. Byela also noted that currently, EfD-Tanzania does not have written guidelines on how to engage researchers and authorship criteria on projects. She said, it would be good for Makerere University to have guidelines for various operations.
Presenting one of the recently conducted environmental study on sustainable use of charcoal and resultant policy note in Tanzania, Dr. Byela observed that most of the environmental issues, such as use of charcoal, single use plastic bags and bottles and wrappers are a huge environmental problems cutting across Africa but presenting a delicate balance that require consideration of other political, economic, social and other aspects.
She said with the EfD Inclusive Green Economy (IGE) program, centers are set to look at the social acceptance and policy issues and this could be good for Makerere University to provide policy direction for the country.
While closing the seminar, the Director EfD-Mak Centre Prof. Edward Bbaale extended appreciation to Prof. Razack of the EfD-Tanzania for making time and nurturing the collaboration with EfD-Mak centre reporting that there is a joint project about gender, food security and COVID 19, a sign of internationalization of research among the centers.
Prof. Bbaale appreciated Dr. Byela Tibesigwa for the inspirational presentation about the EfD- Tanzania.
“You have pointed the gaps of Makerere and we have learnt. We have a big debt to establish a policy board as a steering committee to provide strategic direction of the centre.
You have talked about collaboration between EfD and the Swedish Embassy. Ours has not been deep. We have had officials attending our policy engagements and presentations. It was not deep to support and recommend us to funders. This is one thing to pick up seriously”, Prof. Bbaale stated.
The Director appreciated Dr. Byela for sharing on how to keep researchers motivated and expressed commitment to involve them in data collection and other center activities.
Prof. Bbaale observed that Tanzania’s’ environmental analysis was key in connecting environment to the economy and pointed out key gaps and research areas that are applicable to Uganda.
“We have a debt to mobilize colleagues and partners to take up environmental analysis to implement research from an informed point of view”. The Director said.
Prof. Bbaale thanked the office of the Principal CoBAMS for according the centre a conducive environment to operate and Prof. Yawe Bruno for opening the seminar.
He said the seminar was one of the many that have been held under the centre except that the facilitator was from another country, a move of embracing internationalization with many more of the kind expected.
“We are not blocking our local facilitators. They have been facilitators for the last two years but we are building bigger into international experiences”, Prof. Bbaale explained.
He thanked participants for honoring the invitation and making time to attend. He extended invitation for the upcoming researcher’s training on impact evaluation to be facilitated by a colleague from the USA.
Article compiled by:
EfD-Mak Center Uganda.