Empowering young intellectuals to tackle Tanzania’s agricultural development challenges-Case of Eliafie Mwanga

Mwanga.JPGMr. Eliafie Mwanga, a Tanzanian, completed his MSc in Irrigation and Water Resources Engineering in 2015 at the University of Nairobi, Kenya, with funding from the Innovative Agricultural Research Initiative (iAGRI). iAGRI is a USAID Feed the Future Project aimed at strengthening training and building collaborative research capacities of Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) and the Tanzanian Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MALF) with the goal of improving food security and agricultural productivity in Tanzania. In the past five years, the project engaged with RUFORUM to facilitate placement of 31 young Tanzanian scientists to pursue their master’s degrees at nine selected RUFORUM member universities in Eastern and Southern Africa.

Upon completing his studies, Eliafie returned to Tanzania to work with the Ministry of Water and Irrigation as a civil engineer where he has been providing technical support and oversight in construction of earth fill dams for irrigation. With him as a technical leader, he assembled a strong team which constructed a 6,600,000 m3 earth fill dam for sprinkler irrigation and domestic water supply in Sikonge District. This dam is meeting the water needs of the people in the district.



Eliafie attributes his success to the multidisciplinary, practical-oriented and innovative nature of the master’s course at the University of Nairobi and the soft skills enhancement training he received through RUFORUM. He is thus equipped with technical skills in engineering as well as skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, leadership, and teamwork. In the course of his work, he has encountered several challenges, but this strong foundation has enabled him to overcome these obstacles with ease. Without a doubt, the skills enhancement trainings organized by RUFORUM built his leadership skills and have given him a professional edge:

“I am successfully leading a team of professional engineers and surveyors in carrying out feasibility studies and dam construction. Although I am a junior member of the team, I am technically knowledgeable and equipped with leadership skills. That’s what makes me different”, says Eliafie Mwanga.

Eliafie‘s story demonstrates the impact of one agricultural scientist who has been empowered with both technical and transferable skills and is committed to improving food security and rural livelihoods in his home country, but his is not alone. Several of the other alumni of the iAGRI-RUFORUM collaboration are also contributing to this goal. A survey to track their progress after completion of studies showed that they have fully reintegrated into the agricultural system of Tanzania and are stellar performers, contributing to food security efforts in the country.

Enhancing Staff Mobility: 13 Graduate Teaching Assistants Placed

Escalating PhD training in Africa: RUFORUM Graduate Teaching Assistantship Programme

Escalating PhD training in Africa: RUFORUM Graduate Teaching Assistantship Programme

The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) has facilitated placement of 13 staff members from member universities through an innovative program called Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA). So far 6 member universities are among the first pilot host universities for the GTA program. The host universities include Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR, Malawi), Stellenbosch University (South Africa), Makerere University (Uganda), University of Nairobi (Kenya), and Eldoret University (Kenya).

Besides enrolling into a PhD course at the host university, the successful GTA staff have already taken upon their roles as stipulated in the agreement which include providing teaching, supervision of students and tutoring services. One of the GTA beneficiaries – Mr. Michael Mkosi at LUANAR shares his experiences.

“I have reported and enrolled for a PhD in Animal Science (Fulltime) under the RUFORUM GTA arrangement as per the contractual agreements among sending institution (MZUNI), receiving institution (LUANAR) and RUFORUM secretariat (Facilitating consortium) on 9th October 2015. LUANAR has so far offered me free accommodation at the RUFORUM PhD Hostel, they have waived the Tuition fees and meanwhile they are looking for office space for me. The university has also assigned me two courses to assist in lecturing this semester and so far the facilitation of these courses is going on very well.”

Mr Michael Mkosi – appreciates the GTA program and the hospitality received from the management and staff members in the Department of Animal Sciences at LUANAR.

The table below indicates the information regarding the sending, host universities and programs that have so far been offered.

  Title Name of the GTA Sending University Nationality Host University Study Programme
1 Mr Elias Chirwa Mzuzu University – Malawi Malawian LUANAR PhD Aquaculture & Fisheries Sciences
2 Mr Michael Nkosi Mzuzu University – Malawi Malawian LUANAR PhD Animal Sciences
3 Mr Robert Israel Jere Mzuzu University – Malawi Malawian LUANAR PhD Aquaculture & Fisheries Sciences
4 Mr Joy Rugare University of Zimbabwe Zimbabwean Stellenbosch University PhD Agronomy
5 Ms Daisy Dhlamini University of Swaziland Swazi LUANAR PhD Agricultural Resource Economics
6 Mr Anthony Mwije Makerere University Ugandan Stellenbosch University PhD Horticulture
7 Ms Pamela Nahamya Kabod Uganda Christian University Ugandan Makerere University PhD Plant Breeding and Biotechnology
8 Mr Titus Kiplimo Kosgei Moi University Kenyan Makerere University PhD Plant Breeding and Biotechnology
9 Mr Charles Kasanziki University of Rwanda Rwandese Makerere University PhD Agricultural and Rural Innovations
10 Mr Alphose Murasa University of Rwanda Rwandese Makerere University PhD Agricultural and Rural Innovations
11 Mr Stephen Kabugo Kyambogo University Ugandan Placement in pipeline PhD Animal Sciences
12 Mr Flavius Murogo Uganda Martyrs University Ugandan University of Nairobi PhD Drylands Resources Management
13 Mr Senyanzobe J.M Vianney University of Rwanda Rwandese Eldoret University PhD Plant Ecology

Building the Capacity of the Next Generation of Scientists for Africa: RUFORUM’s Hand into the Future

Centre for Biotechnology and Bioinformatics

University of Nairobi

Above: Sarah A.O. Wa-Mwenje

Above: Sarah A.O. Wa-Mwenje

RUFORUM has had a history of lifting many scientists from a position of great need into one of hope. It is as though the future suddenly stretches before you and you feel capacitated to dream and take that next bold step forward. This is what exactly describes the feeling that we now have upon receiving the RUFORUM Graduate Research Grant (GRG) award to undertake our Masters studies at the University of Nairobi.

A hand is symbolic of capacity; symbolic of ability and an inherent willingness and drive to provide leadership. To us, RUFORUM not only has both innate qualities but also conferred the same opportunities allowing us to dare believe and move to greater heights in our careers and look forward to contributing to Africa’s development agenda as the scientists trained in Africa for Africa. The focus to strengthen our capacity in scientific research and development is interwoven within our scientific endeavour to become change agents through scientific research and innovation. RUFORUM grant was thus the “go forward” needed stimulus to escalate our productive and innovative potential. We are now studying bioinformatics in one of Africa’s leading institutions under the supervision of brilliant lead scientists who are passionate about their roles; their mentorship is admirable and have woven in us to become the scientists now and for the future.

Above: Inertia Ibrahim Wangwe

Above: Inertia Ibrahim Wangwe

The scholarship gives much needed financial relief as Post graduate studies often come with greater financial implications on person and family. We feel honoured to be recipients of this study grant as RUFORUM family of alumni. This RUFORUM grant is indeed “a hand into our future” and the future of Africa’s efforts to escalate the training of scientists within and for Africa. The grant has metaphorically gone ahead of us and formed a new future reality; different from the one we had envisioned. We now have a renewed sense of courage as we pursue a greater scientific career. The new skills currently being gained will create a range of opportunities for us and others in the continent. It is our resolve that immediately after finalising with our Masters studies, we will pursue doctorates within relevant and emerging fields of relevance to Africa’s development agenda. We are grateful to RUFORUM and our mentors.

PhDs in Focus: Helping Uganda’s neglected pastoralists

By Jon Spaull

If you are unable to listen to this audio, please update your browser or click here to download the file [7.4MB]

“I’m opening frontiers of research in an area where people don’t believe it’s possible to conduct research” says PhD student Anthony Egeru, who is studying the effects of climate change on forage resources in Karamoja, in northeast Uganda.

Karamoja is a semi-arid plain largely populated by pastoralists. It is an area that has seen many years of armed conflict and unrest between armed pastoralists and the Ugandan army (UPDF), to the extent that Egeru has needed armed protection from the UPDF whilst conducting his research in Karamoja.

Egeru argues that governments need to be more proactive in setting the research agenda, so that university academics do not remain in their “ivory towers” but instead begin answering some of the many developmental challenges faced by countries in Africa.

Egeru, who is Ugandan, is studying for his PhD at the University of Nairobi, in Kenya. His studies were funded initially by seed grants from RUFORUM (the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture).

This is part of the Africa’s PhD Renaissance series funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

This article was originally published on SciDev.Net. Read the original article.