Contact: Jennifer Freeman
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Earth Institute Launches Partnership with Ugandan Stakeholders; President
Museveni Welcomes Delegation
During its recent visit to Uganda, an Earth Institute delegation launched a partnership with government, academic and other stakeholders in the city of Kampala, Uganda to study the city and its hinterland. Earth Institute delegates were pleased at the strong support and participation the proposed partnership received at the highest levels of Uganda's government, including Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, as well as from university and other non-governmental leaders, and international agencies including the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF).
On Tuesday, March 4, Earth Institute Director Jeffrey Sachs signed a Declaration of Intent with the Ugandan Minister of Water, Lands and Environment, Hon. Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, outlining the project's goals to conduct "cross-disciplinary, multi-sectoral, collaborative scientific and technological research, development and education on the City of Kampala and its hinterland, including Lake Victoria Basin."
"By addressing issues of environmental sustainability, health, and economic development, the project will support Uganda's efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals," said Sachs. [For more information on the Millenium Development Goals please go to www.unmillenniumproject.org].
The Earth Institute Group that met with President Museveni last week included Sachs, Roberta Balstad Miller, Director of the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), and tropical soils specialist Pedro Sanchez.
"We had a wonderful discussion with President Museveni," said Sachs. "He was extremely engaged and interested in discussing both the progress Uganda has made toward the Millennium Development Goals, and the challenges that remain. We also talked about how the Earth Institute's expertise can be useful to Uganda in its efforts to meet the Goals."
"Our Ugandan partners were extremely motivated and well prepared for our visit," added Sanchez. "They developed a list of priorities that we were very comfortable with." These included economic growth, environmental management, urban planning, health, agriculture, education, energy, and information technology.
Both Sachs and Sanchez delivered lectures to an audience of over three hundred Kampala policymakers at a public event hosted by Uganda's Ministry of Water, Lands and Environment. Sachs' topic was Ugandan sustainable development issues, while Sanchez spoke about strategies for improving agricultural production. Sachs also delivered a lecture at a gathering hosted by the United States Ambassador to Uganda, Jimmy Kolker, and USAID, and met with senior officials at the Ugandan Ministry of Health to discuss health sector investment.
The Uganda-Earth Institute collaboration will be based at Makerere University in Kampala, and will involve participation by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), ICRAF, and other stakeholders. The partnership has defined broad areas of common interest related to sustainable development.
Having now lauched their partnership, the project partners expect to define research plans and initiate activities over the next six months. One of the first activities, led by Earth Institute Post-Doctoral Fellow Mary Booth, will be research on nitrogen flows (vital to agriculture, but a problem when concentrated in cities and lakes) from the countryside through the city of Kampala and into Lake Victoria.
In addition to Sachs, Balstad Miller, and Sanchez, the Earth Institute delegation to Uganda included Cheryl Palm, Senior Research Scientist, and Lisa Dreier, Program Manager for Tropical Agriculture.
The Earth Institute at Columbia University is among the world’s leading academic centers for the integrated study of Earth, its environment, and society. The Earth Institute builds upon excellence in the core disciplines—earth sciences, biological sciences, engineering sciences, social sciences and health sciences—and stresses cross-disciplinary approaches to complex problems. Through its research training and global partnerships, it mobilizes science and technology to advance sustainable development, while placing special emphasis on the needs of the world’s poor.