ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) www.ranlab.org hosted at Makerere University School of Public Health and established in November 2012, is currently in its 9th year of implementation of cross disciplinary research and innovation activities towards strengthening resilience in targeted African communities. In addition to providing solutions through innovation to address communities’ diverse challenges, to further highlight the power of partnership and collaboration for which we have thrived, RAN is engaging different partners (including Purdue University, University of Notre dame, Indiana University, Catholic Relief Services, Gulu University Constituent College, Mbarara University of Science and Technology among others) to execute various research and innovation programs that contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals. See details on https://www.ranlab.org/ran-projects#   

Research 

In regard to research, the RAN team closely working with partners in Kenya, University of Nairobi (UoN) and Tanzania, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS)

conducted, documented and disseminated research on Digital Identification Systems in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. This report findings were disseminated in a closed dissemination event on July 23rd, 2020 engaging panelists from National Identity Registration Authority (NIRA), University of Nairobi, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences. These shared their experiences setting up National Identity Systems. We later engaged the public on October 27th, 2020 further leveraging knowledge and expertise from individuals from NIRA, Ministry of Finance-Uganda, USAID, World Bank and DFCU Bank sharing on a panel.    

These dissemination sessions provided an opportunity for us to share about the landscape around National IDs in these countries, specifically understanding costs of implementing the national digital identity systems, the socio- economic benefits and the challenges faced in implementing these systems in East Africa.  Such efforts have continued to not only enhance knowledge generation and sharing but also inform further research and policy. The report is shared and accessible on https://www.ranlab.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Understanding-the-Benefits-Costs-and-Challenges-of-the-National-Identification-System-in-Uganda-1.pdf and https://www.ranlab.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Understanding-Socio-Economic-Benefits-Costs-and-Challenges-of-Digital-Identity-Systems-in-Uganda-Kenya-and-Tanzania-2.pdf 

To further generate and share knowledge, RAN through its strong community and partner engagements to foster research and innovation strengthened an evidence base with a number of research products including datasets, peer review articles, policy briefs and reports. These research products are available at https://www.ranlab.org/resources/publications

Innovation 

With funding from United States Agency for International Development, UN Women, Ministry of ICT and National Guidance and Government of the Republic of Uganda, the RAN team has continued to further nurture innovation ideas and accelerate them to tangible forms for community use to solve societal challenges. 

Adding to the pool of 54 running multidisciplinary innovative enterprises, 3 unique innovations have thrived through the innovation ecosystem. 2 innovations: Akatale Fresh https://www.akatalefresh.com/  (an online store for ordering your daily Fruits, Vegetables, Spices and Herbs, Grains and Flour, Animal Products, Bread and Pastries, Dairy Products, Seafood and many) and MyLib www.facebook.com/myliblive (an interactive digital primary curriculum) with funding from Ministry of ICT and National Guidance and the Centres4Her application https://twitter.com/centres4her?lang=en  (a mobile application that links girls and women experiencing violence to available support services and sexual reproductive services) being funded by UN Women Uganda office.  

Key to note; 

  • The Akatale Fresh app provided alternative home supply during COVID-19 lockdown and since March 2020, they have attended to over 1,000 orders. Details about the Akatale Fresh app are accessible on https://www.akatalefresh.com/ 

The Centres4Her application has continued to link girls and women experiencing violence to the available support services and sexual reproductive services. These support services include; legal, police, shelters, HIV&AIDS, family planning, police surgeons and counselling centres. The app is confidential and gives options on a Centre that best suits a particular incidence to address the reporting gap. Download the Centres4Her app on shorturl.at/fyS23

In an effort to carry on with capacity building, over 100 budding innovative solutions have continued to receive mentorship support as non-funded potentially innovative solutions and RAN still welcomes more innovators in need of mentorship support to book for pitch sessions at RAN premises on Plot 28, Upper Kololo Terrace, Kampala Uganda. A number of students, faculty and community members were supported to boost their innovation potential and RAN has also increased its visibility as an Innovation Lab. 

Co-Creation in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

Bulamu-Low Cost Medical Ventilator: RAN is offering technical and incubation support  through the process of manufacturing the Bulamu Low Cost Medical Ventilator. These efforts are in partnership with Makerere University, Kiira Motors Corporation and Ministry of Science Technology and Innovation. The goal is to develop a low cost medical ventilator to address the respiratory needs of critical patients during the COVID-19 Pandemic and beyond. The Low Cost Ventilator has been manufactured using locally available materials that are eco-friendly, fast and easy to use. The Bulamu Medical Ventilator shall utilize a Standby Battery as a sustainable alternative source of energy. It is imperative to note that over 84% of electricity generation in Uganda is from Hydropower, a sustainable energy source. Since ventilator is solar powered, it can be used in the lower health centers (district hospitals and health centres IV) thus reducing on the referral delay processes to regional hospitals in Uganda. The Ventilator is undergoing animal tests and the results will inform a clinical trial in Humans. 

Prof. William Bazeyo, RAN Chief of Party (second from the right) unveiling the Low Cost Medical Ventilator to Hon. Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng Ocero, Uganda’s Minister of Health on June 11, 2020 (Photo-Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund)

EpiTent-the Tent that Breathes: ‘Next generation tent to provide treatment and Isolation units for Covid-19’:  EpiTent developed by Makerere University is a portable habitation solution for humanitarian emergencies. It is Humane Emergency Use Canopies and Accessories. EpiTent is a re-imagined tent for emergency service delivery, designed for hot humid climates. It has two versions: 1) an ordinary version (Known as the Low-End Version), that provides space for a typical hospital ward, and 2) an optimally accessorized version, (known as ‘the Portable Hospital’ or the High-End Version). These structures are made from cheap material that is locally available and can be produced by both high-end manufacturers and low-end artisans. 

EpiTent is the result of a call for proposals to improve the lives of caregivers during the West African Ebola outbreak of 2014. One major setback to current tents in use in Africa today is the heat. EpiTent solves this problem by passively lowering the temperature by over ten degrees Celsius more than any other product on the market today. EpiTent cuts down on the humidity by over ninety-five percent which greatly contributes to the temperature reduction. EpiTent cuts down on the humidity by over ninety-five percent which greatly contributes to the temperature reduction. Additionally, the general design of the tent allows people inside greater interaction with the external environment while keeping out negative aspects like bad weather and airborne pests such as mosquitoes. The design was tested and was found to protect the Health care workers and Patients from contamination and transmission of diseases while in admission. It is accessorized to allow for hospital use thus no need to procure accessories like drip stands, worktops, etc. For ease of rapid deployment and set up, the tent measures 6X12 meters and we are looking at enlarging the design to accommodate more patients. 

 

EpiTent in use in Adjumani District one of Uganda’s hottest zones

ResilientAfrica Network embarked on massive production of the next generation tents to respond to this pandemic in partnership with Luwero Industries Limited, a company under Uganda Peoples Defence Force’s National Enterprise Corporation (NEC). 17 Tents are currently in use in 5 Ugandan National Referral Hospitals and service provision centres. These include regional hospitals in the districts of Adjumani (one of the hottest parts of Uganda), Mbarara, Gulu, Mbale and Masaka. The other tents are being used at the Malaba Port-Health Department, Bombo Military Hospital, Entebbe Airport Military Base and Nebbi District Military Base.

‘Solutions through Innovation’