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Closing 2013, a year of innovation

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Students of Dr Obote College Boroboro with their robot that automatically

Students of Dr Obote College Boroboro with their robot that automatically draws house curtains. The robot uses a sensor for light intensity to open and close. The students recently emerged winners of the northern region Science and Technology Innovations challenge organised by Makerere University. Photo by Faiswal Kasirye 

By  PAUL TAJUBA

Posted  Tuesday, December 31  2013 at  02:00

In Summary

From government and NGOs to students, different stakeholders came up with innovations that are expected to better lives of Ugandans.

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Kampala-Earlier this month, Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) announced the release of two new soybean varieties, making a total of six commercial varieties recommended for production by farmers in Uganda.

According to a statement on the CAES website, the new varieties; Maksoy 4N and Maksoy 5N, were developed through conventional plant breeding. Previously the university had released Namsoy 4N, Maksoy 1N (2004), Maksoy 2N (2008) and Maksoy 3N (2010).

The strains are disease-resistant and high-yielding, features that are being pursued relentlessly by innovators around the country involved in developing different concepts, machines or tools. Makerere University, together with the other institutions of learning, seems to have taken to their role as the expected hubs for innovation, thereby coming up with different projects.

Riding on the government’s encouragement of sciences right from secondary school, the turn-around that would see the country’s technological development could be happening in these nascent efforts that are documented everyday.

Different government and non-governmental organisations have come up with innovations that are expected to better Ugandans lives. These range from social, economic and technological undertakings. The Daily Monitor looks at some innovations and inventions that have made an impact in 2013, assessing their impact on the local person.

Mobile Telephones for Improved Safe Water Access (M4W): The M4W project gives information on water and sanitation to stakeholders to carry out inspections basing on the set guidelines of the Ministry of Water and Environment.

Millions of Ugandans lack clean water, especially those in rural areas and by this innovation, local communities can get information easily on how to treat water and protect water sources from contamination.

MensPreg: This innovation created by students Joyce Nambalirwa and Daniel Dut (International Health Sciences University) is meant to help women understand their fertility and in so doing, lead to good decisions in family planning.

It predicts ovulation days, safe days, possible conception and delivery days. The innovators believe they will have achieved success if it reaches its primary audiences in reduction of public embarrassment and abortion.

Uganda Content Portal: The Unicef-inspired innovation has been described as “a multi-media source of information that bridges the digital divide between those who have access to the Internet and those who do not”. The platform has got documents, educational videos, images, audio clips and games on various topics like health, education, livelihoods, culture, news, rights, and safety. It features most indigenous Ugandan languages as well as English, French and Swahili.

Uganda Guide App: Dubbed Uganda’s first tourism mobile application, this internet application offers a user complete background information on Uganda, listings of attractions and things to do, personalised digital maps, complete travel directory with tour operators, taxis, hotels, safari lodges, embassies, banks, forex bureaus and a host of smart mini apps.

Luunda Lite: This is an android-based mobile application that targets users involved in the agricultural sector, specifically poultry farming. It was developed by Busitema University students William Luyinda, Ibrahim Ssekabembe and Martin Katumba. The application guides the farmers of how to start up and handle their poultry as they move to different stages, according to a statement on their web page.

Mobile health: mHealth, RapidFTR and mTRAC can be used to monitor medicine supply, information flow from the local people to the government, quality and safety of schools without top officials from the ministries necessarily going to the ground. The simple technologies, which use mobile phone SMS, help in planning and also in identifying health centres hit by drug shortages, misconduct of health workers or teachers’ absenteeism in schools.

Crop disease monitoring: Makerere University students also developed a system for smartphones, which can test cassava leaves for mosaic disease automatically. Uganda has struggled to control cassava diseases, which majority of Ugandans use as their staple food, especially during the dry seasons and now that foreign investors are showing interest in adding value to the crop, this innovation that seeks to control the spread is critical.

AgroMarketDay: Created by Lisa Katusiime and Isaac Omiat of Makerere University. Uganda being a predominately agricultural country, inventions of this kind that detail agriculture markets for peasants and farmers are key to transforming the economy. Rural peasants have for long been cut off from available urban markets due to lack of information.

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