Carnegie grant to strengthen RUFORUM doctoral training

The Uganda-based Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture, or RUFORUM, has received a boost for its doctoral training programme with a grant of US$1.5 million from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

The grant will run for 24 months and will go toward strengthening doctoral training in the 46 universities affiliated to RUFORUM.

The US$1,505,400 grant was one of 33 totalling US$31.8 million made to American and international research institutions and initiatives.

According to Carnegie programme officer Andrea Johnson, the grant will go toward improving the quality of doctoral training in agriculture and life sciences programmes in select RUFORUM universities.

Part of the money will also help to fund academic staff exchange between member universities in the East and West Africa regions.

Since 2012 the two organisations have been running a joint project, called ‘Training World-Class Agricultural Scientists in Africa’, aimed at providing internationally competitive doctoral programmes.

So far Carnegie has made grants amounting to more than US$2 million under the project, with more than 30 doctoral candidates trained mainly in agricultural sciences.

With the project set to end in mid-2017, a new initiative has been mooted in which the two organisations will focus on producing more, quality PhDs in Africa through member universities.

Under the banner of ‘Escalating the Production of PhDs in the Agricultural and Life Sciences’, Carnegie will assist stakeholders in higher education to address constraints hindering the production of quality PhDs in Africa.

Founded by universities in Uganda and Kenya in 2004, RUFORUM has witnessed rapid growth in membership and programmes, with the number of affiliated universities currently standing at 46 from across Sub-Saharan Africa – 22 countries in all. It has attracted substantial resources from international donors to fund activities.

Austrian funding for African research

Meanwhile, two RUFORUM member universities have received €390,000 (US$422,000) funding from the Austrian Partnership Programme in Higher Education and Research for Development – APPEAR – to implement an academic partnership for enhancing capacity in research and training in fisheries and aquaculture.

The partnership involves Makerere University in Uganda, Kenya’s Eldoret University, the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna and the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research.

They will implement a three-year project titled ‘Strengthen regional capacity in research and training in fisheries and aquaculture for improved food security and livelihoods in Eastern Africa’ – STRECAFISH.

In a rare initiative involving the European country, the partnership will engage at least 20 academics and researchers, and will train three PhD and six masters students from Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda over a four-year period.

Academics and graduate students will be equipped with knowledge and skills in developing and implementing innovations to address critical constraints in the fisheries and aquaculture sector in Africa.

Makerere University will coordinate STRECAFISH, with Dr Peter Akoll of the College of Natural Sciences serving as coordinator, and with focal people drawn from partner institutions.

Further, RUFORUM will engage as an associate partner to coordinate multi-stakeholder innovation platforms as well as provide opportunities for linking and disseminating project outputs to the wider RUFORUM network spanning the 22 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.