How our PhDs will develop Uganda

Dr Ayub Mukisa

What you need to know:

  • Makerere University’s 73rd week-long graduation ceremony ended last Friday with students from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and College of Engineering, Design Art and Technology. Here are the last 14 of the 28 PhD graduates that day, writes Damali Mukhaye

Dr Ayub Mukisa (PhD in Gender Studies)

His research focuses on the relationship between gender and adaptive capacity to drought among smallholder farmers in Nabilatuk District, Karamoja Sub-region. 

He found that drought presents a significant challenge to the adaptive capacity of smallholder farmers in the area, disrupting both men and women’s access to productive resources such as water, range lands, and livestock, while infrastructure, technology, and institutional support remain poor. 

The study highlights that women’s work burden increased due to men migrating in search of water and pasture for their animals, while others shifted from pastoral activities to crop farming. 

He recommends a policy on resilience building among smallholder farmers to increase their adaptive capacity to drought.

Dr Isaac Kiiza Tibasiima (PhD in Literature)

Dr Isaac Kiiza Tibasiima

His study examines the role of song composition in Ugandan national performance. He argues that students use song to interact with and contest the idea of the nation. 

Employing a qualitative approach, the study finds that students use original song composition to interrogate issues of nationalism and cultural identity, while occupying ambivalent spaces that allow them to transition between student and adult realms. 

The study suggests new ways to approach competition song performance as a collaborative process that aims to discuss national issues and find solutions to problems.

Dr Francis Eboyu (PhD in Psychology)

Dr Francis Eboyu

He investigated the influence of active learning and work-based learning on creative performance.  He explored ways of integrating cognitive and socio-cultural perspectives to enhance learning, skills transfer and performance of university undergraduate students and employed individuals.  

An analysis of participants short-life stories revealed that more competent colleagues supported learners to perform what they could not do on their own without support. 

In addition,  students developed soft skills such as collaboration, self-confidence, teamwork and communication skills required in the world of work.  Finally, employed individuals shifting from formal employment to self-employment unlearnt unproductive behaviors and with support from colleagues learnt new productive skills.

Dr Andrew Vianney Yiga (PhD Mechanical Engineering)

Dr Andrew Vianney Yiga

He sought to develop alkali modified rice husks fibre reinforced polylactic acid (PLA) composites with clay fillers using compression molding technique. 

Rice husks were treated with Magnesium hydroxide and Sodium hydroxide alkali solutions at 1-4wt percent concentrations in 5:1 and 15:1 liquor ratios to modify their surface. 

PLA composites had enhanced mechanical properties with incorporation of clay and rice husks material. 

The current study revealed that rice husks fibre reinforced PLA composites have good prospects for utilisation in applications where thermal safety, heathy and security are desired.

Dr Ronald Kayiwa (PhD in materials science and engineering)

Dr Ronald Kayiwa

He studied the potential of yielding activated carbon from cassava peels that can remove pharmaceuticals from water systems. 

He modified the process of synthesising activated carbon from the peels which yielded activated carbon with the highest ever reported surface area and pore volumes for cassava peel-based activated carbon at 1684 m2/g and 0.756 cm3/g respectively. 

The study proved for the first time ever that cassava peel-activated carbon could adsorb pharmaceutical residues to about 95 percent removal for a 2.0 g/L dosage and capacity of 25.907, 84.034, and 1.487 mgg-1 for Carbamazepine, Trimethoprim, and Clarithromycin respectively.

Dr May Namuddu (PhD in Linguistics)

Dr May Namuddu

She analysed the writing competence in English of Makerere University students in the natural sciences and how it evolved between 2000 and 2015. 

The research focused on the structural and linguistic features of chemistry students’ explanation genres and identified their strengths and weaknesses. 

The study revealed that the students’ writing competence fluctuated over time, with generally weak performance. 

Although the majority of students used the selected linguistic features, they demonstrated a decline in their use as the years progressed. 

However, the study showed that students still had a better performance in the use of linguistic features.

Dr Gloria Naantoe Longbaam (PhD In History)

Dr Gloria Naantoe Longbaam

Her research focused on the dynamics of hybrid conflict management in Nigeria’s Middle Belt from 1957 to 2018. 

Contrary to common belief that hybrid forms of conflict management emerged after colonialism, the study shows that such practices existed during the colonial period. 

The emirate system worked alongside “pagan” administrative structures recognised by the colonialists. 

The Nigerian state evolved and institutionalised non-state actors, especially vigilante and hunting groups to complement security services. 

Despite being established along Westphalian liberalism, the study shows that policy and practice inconsistencies have hindered the effectiveness of hybridity in Nigeria’s Middle Belt.

Dr Jimmy Francis Obonye (PhD in political Sciences)

Dr Jimmy Francis Obonye

He examined the impact of decentralisation policy reforms in Karamoja, particularly on political empowerment, livelihoods, coordination, and the relationship between traditional authority and local government systems. 

Despite people’s attachment to traditional authority structures, the study found that decentralisation did not effectively blend the two systems, resulting in parallelism and conflicts. 

Furthermore, coordination of development actors and programmes was not improved and ordinary people were not politically empowered due to the capture of the system by local elites. 

Dr Theresa Odur Auma (PhD in Sociology)

Dr Theresa Odur Auma

She investigated how clan leaders in Lango Sub-region are resisting and regulating the expansion of land markets. 

She found that three factors that arose in the 1980s including the neoliberal economic transformation, the NRM/LRA war and the loss of cattle contributed to the current commodification of customary land. 

In response, clan leaders have treated this land market as an invasion into their territory and devised several mechanisms to regulate it. 

She found that most of the land sales are distress sales resulting from poverty and this has forced clan leaders to play a contradictory role of both hindering and facilitating the land market. 

She concluded that customary power of the clan has not been eroded but rather there is an ongoing centralisation of power in specific clan leaders as a means to strengthen clan control over land sales.

Dr Robert Ssemulende (PhD in Archeology)

Dr Robert Ssemulende

His study aimed to clarify the position of the Sangoan Lithic Industry in the Stone Age nomenclature at Sango Bay in outhern Uganda. 

There were controversies regarding the composition and dating of the Sangoan techno-complex and whether it should be categorised as an Acheulean, Middle Stone Age, or independent Stone Age industry. 

The study used archaeological surveys, excavation, phytoliths, and archival data to investigate typology, technology, environment, and chronology. 

Results indicated that the Sangoan was a post-Acheulean techno-complex that had traces of the Later Stone Age, with a combination of heavy and light-duty tools made using predominantly the Levallois technology in a woodland environment.

Dr Andrew Gilbert Were (PhD in Urban Planning, Design and Management)

Dr Andrew Gilbert Were

 He focused on how street spaces could be planned and managed for enterprises. Street vending offers employment with linkages in the formal and informal sectors. 

It comprises the distribution value chain for goods and services. He discovered that street vending is practiced on all streets and it is driven by the intensity of pedestrian and vehicle traffic; that street spaces are valorised depending on their location and intensity of human traffic and numerous actors are involved in the street vending industry, with diverse interests that have made street vending difficult to manage. 

The results offer insights into decentralised community-led street planning, design, management and policy guidelines for street vending.

Dr Charles Owenda Omulo (PhD in Development Studies)

Dr Charles Owenda Omulo

He conducted a study on the socio-economic impact of the floriculture industry on the livelihoods of flower farm workers in Wakiso District. 

The results indicated that the flower farms had created job opportunities for rural people, increased entrepreneurial activities, and improved health services in neighbouring communities through corporate social responsibilities. 

However, the study also found that the industry had some negative impacts, such as environmental pollution from pesticide drifting and poor working conditions that exposed workers to hazardous agrochemicals. 

The study concludes that, as it stands, the floriculture industry is unsustainable.

Dr George Tee Forpoh (PhD in Political Science)

Dr George Tee Forpoh

He examined conflicts over cross-border natural resources surrounding Mano River Basin (Liberia, Sierra Leone,  Ivory Coast and Guinea). 

He analysed management that guarantees peaceful utilisation for human and ecological development. 

The region experienced horrendous conflicts, decimated more than 300,000 people and displaced millions. 

The study epistemological purpose understands this problem and proffered alternative solutions. 

These included weak and ineffective institutional factors - policies, cultural practices, information exchange channels, decision-making politics, lack of support services, absence of uniform application of national, regional and international laws and failure to involve the people.

Dr Bazilio Kamya (PhD in Development Studies)

Dr Bazilio Kamya

He examined the contribution of primary education policy reforms in the development of Uganda from 1894 to 2019. Using qualitative approach, the study established that the different primary education policy reforms made substantial contribution to the development of Uganda including infrastructure development, increased school enrolment for boys and girls, vocationalisation of primary education, human capital development and reduced disparity between boys and girls. 

However, the quality of primary education still remains poor, short of what is recommended by Sustainable Development Goal 4 “quality education; the East African Community Vision 2050; and Uganda Vision 2040.  The study recommends that government should increase funding in research and development to review curriculum and increase the budget for primary education.


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