In addition to providing solutions through innovation, to further highlight the power partnership and collaboration for which we have thrived, RAN is engaging different partners to execute various research and innovation programs that contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals.
Highlighted below are the projects;
The Higher Education for Conservation Activity (“HECA”) is a five-year (2022-2027) Activity funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by the University of Georgia as a prime partner. The Activity is implemented in Liberia and brings into partnership a constellation of U.S. and Liberia Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to positively strengthen capacity within the Liberian Forestry, Biodiversity, and Conservation (FBC) workforce education sector. These institutions include: The University of Georgia (UGA), Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW), a gender research institute at Wellesley College; The University of Liberia (UL); Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical College (AAMU), a public HBCU based in Huntsville, Alabama; Tuskegee University (TU); the Forestry Training Institute (FTI), University Consortium for Liberia (UCL) and Resilient Africa Network (RAN). RAN is in charge of the monitoring, evaluation as well as the collaborating, learning and adapting activities for the HECA project.
HECA seeks to establish a Center of Excellence for Forestry, Biodiversity, and Conservation Leadership and Green Enterprise Development (“the FBC Center”) that will link the University of Liberia with Liberia’s one-of-a-kind TVET, the Forestry Training Institute. Activities coordinated through the FBC Center will include curriculum design, faculty and institutional capacity strengthening, student soft skills development and development of experiential learning opportunities, a faculty fellowship exchange program, youth engagement activities, gender equity initiatives, community inclusion initiatives, green enterprise development related to community engagement and workforce development, and other areas of activity as determined by Liberian HEI partners. As the Activity matures and the FBC Center is established, it will extend involvement to other Liberian HEIs offering FBC instruction.
For over decades now, billions of US Dollars in aid have been injected into developing countries by different development actors to address critical humanitarian and development needs. However, many communities in developing countries continue to have recurrent cycles of shocks and stresses from vulnerability factors. There is therefore a need to move these communities from being dependent to becoming self-reliant.
Self-reliance is one of the most important factors required for transformation of communities in developing countries. Self-reliance is defined as the ability for individuals, households, communities and societies to take ownership of their development goals and to take development matters in their own hands so as to drive their communities into development. Self-reliance is therefore defined by independence.
Agency is influenced by self-efficacy: The belief in one’s ability to perform specific tasks to achieve a challenging goal; motivation: the drive to take and sustain initiative; and skills: the capacity to use the local resources to perform the desired social change initiative. In order for development interventions to be sustainable, they ought to unravel the agency of community members to take ownership of the investments and carry them forward.
Through ResilientAfrica Network (RAN), USAID’s Centre for Development Research is targeting to support interventions that will identify, incubate and bring to scale initiatives that will promote sustainable self-reliance of communities in developing countries, to break the cycles of dependence that constrain their resilience to recurrent livelihoods shocks, stresses and spur them into transformation towards a higher development status. RAN proposes to test, incubate and support the transition to scale of an intervention that draws on building the agency of communities in Uganda and Malawi to foster their self-reliance in addressing three interrelated development issues within their local livelihoods ecosystem.
In Uganda, self-reliance will build in basic education and youth livelihoods while in Malawi agriculture will be targeted.
Through RAN, USAID/Uganda seeks to partner with USAID/LAB/CDR to leverage the expertise of Ugandan universities and researchers to undertake development research that will inform subsequent interventions by USAID/Uganda to strengthen the voices of Uganda’s indigenous people. By working through the local universities, the Mission seeks to encourage sustainable partnerships with local universities positioned to institutionalize research and build local ownership and capacity around these issues.
USAID/Uganda’s Regional Coordination Initiative (RCI) engages local universities and researchers as partners in development. Those universities include Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) and Gulu University Constituent College (GUCC), amongst others. Through the RCI, Regional Steering Committees in Karamoja and in Southwestern Uganda have raised deep concerns over what they perceive as violations of the rights of indigenous people, especially the Batwa in Kisoro and Kanungu Districts. The RCI and Regional Steering Committees in Karamoja have also expressed concern for two indigenous Karamojong communities (Ik and Tepeth) who face a number of issues. However, the Karamojong as a whole are a marginalized group and they too face similar issues, especially child trafficking from the region through Teso and into Kampala, the capital city where they are destitute.
Through RAN, this project targets to extend the capacities and momentum built in the previous projects by identifying areas of innovation support ecosystem which still need further support in order to strengthen, institutionalize and sustain the ecosystem approach to innovations. The project has mainly two sub areas;
- Identification and support for potentially transformative ideas to transition to scale. This involves scanning the university environment to identify tested innovations that are ready for scale. Diagnostic evaluation to identify transition to scale needs. Providing acceleration support. Implementation of a learning agenda to guide adaptation, institutionalization and strengthening of the scaling ecosystem. Development of tools to support integration of the transition to scale process.
- Strengthening institutionalization cross cutting elements of the support ecosystem for innovators. This involves institutionalizing routine mentorships for walk in innovators. In so doing, this project also aims at supporting the institutionalization of basic skills workshops for innovators.
The Long-Term Assistance and Services for Research (LASER) – Partner University-Led Solutions Engine (PULSE), (LASER-PULSE) consortium seeks to partner with USAID Somalia and USAID/LAB/CDR to: (1) identify the most effective and cost-efficient models of delivering accelerated education programs in the pilot phase of the contract, focusing on learning outcomes, equitable access, and retention for all students, particularly the most vulnerable; (2) measure the results of the full program, in terms of learning outcomes, equitable access, and retention for all students, particularly the most vulnerable. (3) Measure the cost effectiveness of the program (for pilot models and scaled-up models); and (4) capture the lessons learned for scale (for pilot models, and scaled-up models).
The proposed project activity builds the capacity of Higher Education Institution (HEI) partners to conduct research that advances USAID and its user groups’ ability to provide evidence base for Accelerated Education Programs (AEPs) by understanding the relative effectiveness of various AEP pilot models (or components of models), factors that influence scalability, as well as effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of AEP at scale. This activity is undertaken by a multi-disciplinary research team through the LASER PULSE consortium members, with Purdue University leading the effort, in collaboration with Makerere University, Somali Disaster Resilience Institute (SDRI) in Somalia and a member of the Makerere University’s ResilientAfrica Network (RAN).
A lot of research is conducted and published by academicians and non-academicians. There is however so much that can be done beyond just carrying out the research and publishing research findings.
Under the LASER-PULSE initiative, with funding from USAID, Makerere University-RAN is currently supporting researchers to translate study findings into policies, programs and community based interventions. The LASER-PULSE partners are from Purdue University, Catholic Relief Services, Indiana University, the University of Notre Dame in the US, and Makerere University in Uganda.
Makerere University-RAN is engaging cross disciplinary development partners, Non-Government Organizations, private sector and development agencies through-out the implementation of LASER-PULSE activities. The anticipated outcome of LASER is ‘enhanced discovery and application of evidence-based solutions to development challenges’.
Details about LASER-PULSE are shared and accessible on https://stemedhub.org/groups/laserpulse/aboutus
With the recent support from the Government of the Republic of Uganda through Makerere University’s Research and Innovations Fund (RIF), RAN is implementing projects that will equip cooperatives and extension workers on how best to leverage ICT for Agriculture engaging innovators from the EzyAgric and M-Omulimisa innovation projects. This is in the districts of Mbarara and Rukungiri in Western Uganda.
Details about Makerere University’s Research and Innovations Fund (RIF) are shared and accessible on https://rif.mak.ac.ug/
The Government of the Republic of Uganda through Makerere University’s Research and Innovations Fund (RIF) is also funding the Institutionalization of Innovation in higher institutions of learning and in this regard, the RAN team has started engaging students and faculty from Makerere University in trainings imparting in them skills in the Human Centered Design approach. To-date, we have conducted Design Thinking and Community based co-creation trainings to over 5,000 beneficiaries.
RAN is supporting the Ministry of Information Communication Technology and National Guidance to implement the National ICT Initiatives Support Program (NIISP) aimed at providing an enabling ecosystem for Uganda’s ICT innovators to be productive and competitive. To-date, a total of 30 innovation have are being incubated at the RAN Lab under NIISP.
Details about NIISP are shared and accessible on http://niisp.ict.go.ug/2017/10/national-ict-initiatives-support-programme/
We successfully conducted a study on the Social Economic value of the digital national ID systems in East Africa.
Taking a Case Study of Uganda, a population-based survey of 2,892 adults aged 18 and above was conducted. All 15 statistical regions of Uganda (as used in the national Health and Demographic Surveys) were included in the study as indicated in the map of Uganda (Figure 1). This study was supported by USAID Centre for Digital Development. Despite other benefits of the national ID, in Uganda, the study findings indicated that the country saved USD 10, 197,817 as a result of integrating the system with the national ID database.
Study findings in form of a report together with a Policy and Knowledge brief will be disseminated to stakeholders in the near future.