Stakeholders endorse the establishment of the Climate Change Centre at Makerere University

Different stakeholders from public and private institutions have endorsed the proposal to establish the Makerere University Centre for Climate Change Research and Innovations (MUCCRI) in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES). 

This was reached at the consultative workshop on MUCCRI held on Thursday 4th June, 2015 at Protea Hotel in Kampala. The purpose of the workshop was to allow stakeholders in the academia, government, development partners and civil society to engage in meaningful discussions about the purpose, activities and governance of the centre. 

The summarised document proposing the establishment of MUCCRI was presented by the Interim Centre Coordinator Dr. Revocatus Twinomuhangi and subjected to review and discussions. The participants were divided in five groups by MUCCRI topics including Climates Science, Adaptation, Mitigation, Governance, Policy, outreach and training. 

The groups identified issues or gaps in the proposal and made recommendations on how best MUCCRI can deliver before moving a motion and reaching the consensus to endorse its establishment. 

MUCCRI, according to Dr. Twinomuhangi was an output of the Rockefeller funded initiative that arose out of the need to fill the missing links in climate change and development. The Centre will address four thematic areas namely Climate Science, Adaptation, Mitigation Policy, Training and Outreach. 

Dr. Twinomuhangi told participants that the centre was launched by the Vice Chancellor on 30th July 2013, approved by CAES Board in March, 2014 and recommended to University Senate and Council for approval. The centre is operating on interim basis in CAES pending approval from University Senate and University Council. 

“We are seeking views of key stakeholders on establishment of MUCCRI and this will be followed by approval by Senate and Council. We shall put in place a substantive management and governance structure and mobilise resources to operationalize the centre”, The interim Coordinator Dr. Twinomuhangi added. 

He observed that overcoming world poverty and managing climate change were the two defining challenges of the century hence the need for Makerere to strengthen climate change education, research, innovations, information and knowledge management in the university and country by providing a one stop centre for climate change information, research and innovations. 

Citing the IPCC 5TH Assessment Report, Dr. Twinomuhangi said that there is 95% certainty that climate change is caused by human beings. 

“Each of the last three decades have been successively warmer at the earth's surface than any preceding decade. For Uganda, average temperature has increased by 0.28°C per decade between 1960 and 2010. By 2060 Uganda's temperature will raise from 1.5 – 3°C.” the Don said. 

He said the centre will promote awareness on climate change, conduct research on climate change science, climate change mitigation and adaptation in all sectors and disseminate the generated information. It will also generate and disseminate innovations for climate for climate change mitigation and adaptation in agricultural sciences and natural resources sectors. Through research and dissemination of findings, the centre will also advocate and influence climate change and development policy to enable Uganda address climate change challenges 

Speaking at the same occasion the Principal CAES, Prof. Bernard Bashaasha said Climate Change was real manifested by impacts on agriculture, energy, infrastructure and other sectors. 

“Overall losses for food crops estimated at USD1.5 billion by 2050. Climate Change will lead to a 40 percent fall in crop production of cassava, potato and sweet potato by 2050. Loses due to a 50 percent reduction in the production of coffee and tea combined may cost about USD1,400 million by 2050.” The Principal said. 

In the energy sector, Prof. Bashaasha reported that Climate Change will certainly reduce biomass availability-loss of domestic wood estimated at 5-10 percent between 2020 and 2050 or a cost of USD0.5-1.3 billion if the gap is filled with imported biomass. 

In infrastructure, the Professor said, the total cost for ensuring climate resilient infrastructure estimated at USD52-66 million for the period 2015-2020; and USD638-1,157 million for the period 2045-2050. 

The Principal described CAES as one of the largest and the most multidisciplinary college offering a wide range of programs with a talented teaching and support staff, specialized centres , a large and diverse number of students making it unique with immense strength and opportunities to address global challenges such as climate change. 

“CAES is a college on a mission. CAES has an interest in improving education, research and outreach capacity on climate change adaptation and mitigation in the agricultural and related sectors” 

Prof. Bashaasha disclosed that the college intends to transform MUCCRI into a leading center for climate change education and research in the East Africa and entire Africa and to use MUCCRI as a platform to develop the capacity of university staff, government officials, civil society, and private sector actors to better understand climate change, climate change impacts, and climate adaptation and mitigation; 

“CAES also intends to use MUCCRI as a vehicle to improve and support undergraduate, graduate, diploma, and post graduate education in climate science, meteorology, and climate adaptation; and to develop it into a leading center of excellence in climate change education, research, and innovations that enhances sustainable development, with a focus on the agricultural and related sectors, in Uganda and across the African region.” The Principal stated. 

Closing the workshop as the Chief Guest on behalf of the Ag. Executive Director Uganda National Meteorology Authority, Mr. Magezi Akiki JB welcomed the establishment of MUCCRI as a timely effort in addressing a big challenge. 

Mr. Magezi said Climate change affects all sectors of the economy and has had big impact on socio economic development. 

“Uganda being a less developed country is very vulnerable to low adaptive capacity. Little research has been done in Uganda and Africa in general. We therefore hope that this centre will help bridge the gap in climate sciences, adaptation and mitigation”, The Ag. Executive Director said. 

Mr. Magezi thanked the participants for the ideas generated expressing optimism that they will enrich the proposal.