MAK creates awareness on Borderland Dynamics in East Africa

The M.A. students in a group photo with the University of Bergen Rector,Prof. Dag Rune Olsen.

Makerere University in partnership with the University of Khartoum, University of Addis Ababa, the University of Bergen and Christian Michelsea Institute in Norway is implementing a five-year project Dr Eria Olowo, Coordinator of the Projecton “Borderland Dynamics in East Africa”. The project is sponsored by NORAD and managed by the Departments of Sociology and Anthropology at the collaborating Universities. At MakerereProf Kirumira addresses participants. Looking on is the Prof. Dag Rune Olsen, the Vice Rector for International Affairs, Prof Anne Christine Johannesen, and the Advisor, Graduate Programme/Joint Degrees at UiB, Ms Anne Beate Maurseth University, the project is coordinated by Dr Eria Olowo Onyango, Lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, School of Social Sciences.

The aim of the project is to strengthen the capacity of the three universities (Makerere, Khartoum and Addis Ababa) to play a role in governance and policy fields by addressing relevant development problems, such as the borderland issues. Increasing competence and advocacy on the specific aspects of borderland situations, such as human rights, women rights, rights of marginal borderland groups, environmental concerns as well as human health and general human development concerns represent important parts of the process.

The project will create new and specialized regional competence by offering Ph.D and Master students opportunities for regional interaction on training and research levels. The long term goal is to empower borderland communities in Ethiopia, Sudan and Uganda to voice their special concerns in policy dialogues. At Makerere University, four students have enrolled for PhD programmes in Social Anthropology and five Masters students are fully sponsored for the 2014/2015 Academic Year.

By the end of the project in 2018, Makerere University shall have trained four PhDs and 10 Masters students. The University of Addis Ababa shall have trained 10 MA students and 2 PhDs whereas the University of Khartoum, 8 M.As and 1 Post Doctorate. All students sponsored by the project are expected to carry out research on borderland dynamics and it is this research that shall be used to generate policy briefs. Other activities carried out under the project include workshops at Departmental and Regional levels. The regional workshops are carried out at the various borders to disseminate the research findings and sensitize borderland communities on critical issues in their localities. The collaborating universities also benefit in terms of institutional development.

M.A. students workshop

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Makerere University has held a training workshop for the first M.A. cohort sponsored by the project. The two-week training held at the School of Social Some of the M.A. students that attended the workshopSciences introduced the 14 M.A. students from the collaborating Universities to borderland issues in East Africa. The students also presented their research proposals to the workshop facilitators who included Lecturers and Professors from the collaborating universities. The facilitators shall guide the students to focus their proposals before they start writing their dissertations.

Speaking at the closure of the training yesterday, 1st October, 2014, Dr Olowo appreciated the University of Bergen for the support rendered towards the workshop by providing the latest literature on borderlands study and facilitating their staff to train the students. He specifically acknowledged the support rendered by NORAD and the Royal Kingdom of Norway towards the success of the project.

The Principal of CHUSS, Prof. Edward Kirumira, noted that the support from NORAD will play a critical role in the study of borderland dynamics and boosting the capacity of the youth to guide national development. He expressed gratitude for the “fruitful and long term” relationship between Makerere University and the University of Bergen. To date, the University of Bergen has sponsored about 200 PhDs at Makerere. Makerere University has signed a Frame Agreement to extend the cooperation with University of Bergen, UiB, for a period of ten years. The Agreement, signed on 30th September, 2014, will see the two universities partner in joint research and teaching; exchange of staff and graduate students, and exchange of information and publications. The initial frame agreement between the two universities was signed in 1999 for 15 years, and was set to expire this November.

The closing ceremony was presided over by the Rector of Bergen, Prof. Dag Rune Olsen, in company of the Vice Rector for International Affairs, Prof Anne Christine Johannesen, the Coordinator UiB-Mak Collaboration, Prof. Thorkild Tylleskar, and the Advisor, Graduate Programme/Joint Degrees at UiB, Ms Anne Beate Maurseth.

Written by