Makerere University School of Public Health ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) team engaged partners across the RAN Network (18 African Universities in 13 Countries https://www.ranlab.org/about-us/what-is-ran ) in the 4th RAN Partners Forum held at the RAN Innovation Lab on Plot 28, Upper Kololo Terrace, Kampala Uganda. This Partners Forum was guided by the theme ‘Demonstrating RAN’s 5 Year Impact and how it can be sustainably scaled beyond the current award’. Participants shared in detail about each Resilience Innovation lab outputs noting the growth in the innovation projects currently under incubation (both in number, community coverage and personal development), sharing community voices of those who have benefited from or engaged with some if the innovative solutions, lessons learned through the process, RAN strength and offer among others.

Specific Objectives of the Forum were;

  1. To share the impacts of RAN’s work over the last five-year award period as well as the key processes and outputs that enabled this impact.
  2. To discuss how RAN’s resilience analysis work and methodologies can be more widely disseminated to inform humanitarian and development work.
  3. To share ideas on how RAN’s resilience innovation processes and projects can be taken to scale and the partnerships we need to build to enable this.

Prof. William Bazeyo officially welcomed all participants to the RAN Partners Forum reminding all about RAN’s Vision, Mission, Goal, Objectives, Theory of Change and Definition of Resilience https://www.ranlab.org/about-us/strategic-direction. He also noted that RAN was fully supporting 68 Innovative solutions with SEED Funding and over 100 others through RAN’s capacity building arm (without funding support). He added urging the participants to remain committed to growing innovations to address communities’ most pressing challenges saying; ‘through-out the last 5 years, where we have achieved, let us uphold the achievements and learn from them but where we have failed to achieve, let us identify and share the weak nuts working towards tightening them for the better’. Prof. Bazeyo also posed a question to the Forum participants that; ‘RAN has accumulated a lot of data; how can we use this data for sustainable development?’. Access RAN publications on https://www.ranlab.org/resources/publications. Additionally, Prof. Bazeyo thanked all the partners for a job well done emphasizing his saying ‘Be a Contribution!’.

Maggie Linak, Program Manager, Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN), U.S. Global Development Lab, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-Washington D.C in her remarks highlighted RAN’s uniqueness noting that it lies in the ability of RAN to bring together several resilience innovation players. She also thanked the RAN team for all the efforts leading to great achievements thus far. It has been a nice opportunity watching RAN change and grow over the years. ‘I am proud to associated with RAN and all the activities you are all involved in towards causing impact and positive change in the communities’ she added.

Makerere University’s Deputy Vice Chancellor In-Charge of Finance and Administration and also the RAN Patron graced the Partners Forum and officially opened it on Wednesday June 20, 2017.  In his opening remarks, he noted that ‘We are the people communities are looking up to for lasting innovative solutions to the diverse challenges they are facing. The RAN project is a demonstration that we can positively transform African communities employing Solutions through Innovation. Let us all continue with the efforts to leverage additional funding to support these innovative solutions so that we are a contribution to the communities’. He also pledged to USAID to continue supporting such projects like RAN in Africa and beyond noting that these are the institutions which are richly benefiting the communities. He added, ‘Thank you USAID for continually supporting Makerere University and Africa as a whole, I appeal to you to continue supporting RAN activities because RAN is one of those success African stories. Since you have planted the seed, please keep watering and nurturing it to full growth’. He was also impressed that the RAN team had already put together policy briefs (accessible on https://www.ranlab.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Eastern-Africa-Resilience-Innovation-Lab_Family-Planning-Policy-Brief.pdf and https://www.ranlab.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Eastern-Africa-Resilience-Innovation-Lab-_Resettlement-Policy-Brief.pdf, to inform Government and other stakeholders’ work. He added sharing that RAN is a unique project which has also grown personalities (including himself) through capacity building opportunities including training in the Human Centred Design Approach, Business Modelling, Pitching, Scientific writing, documentation and Effective Communication among others but also imparting in many personal developmental skills.  Makerere University’s research agenda has also richly benefited from RAN’s work referring to the first state of African Resilience Report also shared on https://www.ranlab.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/State-of-African-Resilience-Report.pdf.  ‘RAN has a special place in my heart because of the impact these innovations currently under incubation in this innovation lab are causing in the target communities’ Prof. Nawangwe added.

The two days engagement also provided an opportunity for the partners to listen to some of the RAN Innovators pitch about the innovations they are currently working on real time in an Innovations Exhibition. The innovators who joined in pitching about their innovations included; Pedal Tap-non-touch retrofittable water dispensing system, Matibabu-Non-Invasive Malaria Diagnosis toolkit, KUNGULA-Winnowing Maize Thresher, the Low-Cost Solar Irrigation Pump and Solar Dryer. During this pitch session, partners asked questions for purposes of clarity and also physically engaged with the innovation improved prototypes in the RAN gardens. The Partners Forum activities were crowned with a visit to two of the communities, Makindye district within Kampala’s vicinity where the Solar Dryer is being used to dry vegetables, fruits and also briquettes too and also Migadde-Bombo, another Kampala Suburb on the Northern Highway where the Water Purification System is installed and functional. ‘It was fulfilling engaging with some of the innovators and innovation beneficiaries in the communities in which they live’ noted Prof. Banny Banerjee, Director of Stanford Changelabs at Stanford University. Prof. Banny and team at Stanford University are closely working with the RAN team to support RAN’s Innovation arm leveraging from the expertise in the Silicon Valley. Another key Lead from Stanford University is Prof. James Fishkin, Professor of Communication and Political Science working with the RAN team to coin Deliberative Polling (DP) https://www.ranlab.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/what-is-deliberative-polling.pdf a creative approach to effectively engaging the communities. Additionally, Prof. Ky Luu, Director of the Initiative for Disaster and Fragility Resilience and Research Professor of the Practice of International Affairs at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University is leading the Resilience team which developed RAN’s Resilience Framework also guiding RAN’s work and Jennifer Cooke, Director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Africa Program leads the team which supports RAN’s documentation processes https://www.ranlab.org/about-us/the-ran-team/network-partners.

Partners Forum 2017 Website is active on http://partnersforum.ranlab.org/home/.

Follow and contribute to the conversation on Twitter #RANPF2017.

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