Uganda Martyrs University

A key Ford Program partner in its research and community engagement work in Uganda is Uganda Martyrs University (UMU), the country’s premier Catholic university. Like the Ford Program, UMU has both an academic and community-based perspective to addressing the challenges of extreme poverty. The Ford Program and UMU share the belief that a university should not exist in isolation, but be integrated and concerned with the affairs of the surrounding community. “A university must not be an ivory tower but be part of the community,” says Vice Chancellor of UMU Charles Olweny.

Working together, the Ford Program and UMU aim to support research projects developed in dialogue with local Ugandan communities to address their real-world challenges. Direct financial investment and technical expertise complement research efforts in key socioeconomic sectors: health, education, “livelihood development”—agriculture and other enterprises—and critical infrastructure.

Uganda Martyrs University, which overlooks Lake Victoria about 50 miles west of the capital city of Kampala, was established in 1993, through the collaboration of the Uganda Episcopal Conference and the Ugandan government. In addition to its main campus, there are also distance-learning programs and part-time programs at university branches in Kampala. Its two original colleges, the Institute for Ethics and Development Studies and the Faculty of Business Administration and Management, have been joined by seven others: Science, Health Science, Education, Agriculture, the Built Environment, Humanities and Social Sciences, and the new East African School of Diplomacy and International Studies. Today, over 3,000 students from countries across Africa are enrolled in UMU programs.

Community Outreach

The Ford Program has cultivated a special relationship with UMU’s Community Outreach Program (UMUCOP), which collaborates with the local community to promote quality education, research, and sustainable development. The non-teaching department enhances self-reliance and sustainable development through grassroots efforts with local communities. UMUCOP staff members work closely with the Ford Program in its partner community of Nnindye and the surrounding area.

Over the last year the UMUCOP team has worked with Nnindye residents to design community development projects in water and sanitation, health, and agriculture.
The Nnindye planning committee is finalizing the three initial projects for this year while concurrently designing a 5-year plan. The three initial projects chosen by the community are:

• Strengthening the Village Health Team (VHT) in Nnindye Parish in collaboration with the District Health Office and the local health center.

• Construction of two new water sources in the parish, coupled with a public health campaign focused on water and sanitation in the community and in individual households.

• Increasing agricultural productivity through establishing and utilizing demonstration farms in each of the 12 villages, coupled with an improved seed distribution campaign throughout the parish.

Faculty from Notre Dame and UMU will serve as advisors to these projects and conduct related research. The partners hope that the holistic and integrated development activities carried out in Nnindye will serve as a positive model for university partnership and engagement in research, outreach, and development in local communities.

Ford Program Awarded Grant for Community Project

The Sieben Foundation has awarded the Ford Program a $50,000 grant to address agriculture and nutrition needs in Uganda. Uganda Martyrs University’s Community Outreach Program (UMUCOP) will implement the project, “Lifting Cooperative Commercial Agriculture and Better Household Nutrition Through Building Capacity of School Children in Nkozi Sub-County of Mpigi District.” The project, already underway in 15 schools, focuses on classroom education, the establishment of school gardens, and outreach training in the community.

The Sieben Foundation’s mission is to “alleviate the root causes of poverty by enabling people to sustain themselves through education or employment.” The foundation supports organizations “that make a real difference in eliminating poverty, that use multiple, cross-cutting strategies to address poverty, and are entrepreneurial.” The international grants program of the foundation focuses on funding primary education initiatives as well as vocational training that has direct applicability to the local economy.