The UNSW Faculty of Engineering and Gulu University (GU) in Uganda have been collaborating closely since 2016 through the UNSW Institute of Global Development (IGD), and recent reciprocal visits gave both institutions the opportunity to celebrate their successes and begin to explore future opportunities.

Four representatives from GU visited UNSW in March 2024: Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment Dr. Collins Okello; Head of School for Agriculture and Biosystems Dr. Martine Nyeko; and Lecturers Dr. Grace Okiror and Dr. Denis Nono. This visit followed several UNSW delegations to GU which supported and delivered diverse faculty initiatives and relationships, the most recent of which occurred in December 2023.

The seminar event on 7th March 2024 provided the setting for reflection and recognition of what has been a highly impactful partnership. Past projects have aimed to minimise land conflict, improve the health of women and children, train academic staff in higher education strategies, and facilitate exchange programs with the two student cohorts. Recent projects, such as those focused on exploring gendered access to WaSH, providing safe drinking water and empowering girls in STEM, have produced some life-changing impacts:

  • 2,500 children and patients now have access to safe drinking water 
  • 23 Ugandan schools have been reached with trainings and system installations 
  • 25 engineering students have been involved both in Uganda and at UNSW 
  • 120 teachers and parents in Uganda have been trained on sustainable water management
  • 4 full time jobs and 4 part time jobs have been created within African STEM Education Initiative (ASEI) 

While acknowledging these monumental impacts, the recent meeting also enabled the two institutions to discuss approaches to expand their research and education collaboration.  After a detailed review of national priorities, Gulu University’s goals and UNSW’s strengths within the Faculty of Engineering, potential initiatives were explored across renewable energy, agriculture and water infrastructure. Prospective activities were also assessed for their alignment with a key goal of the Engineering component of the Gulu-UNSW partnership: to collaboratively build the knowledge, physical space, staff training, and procedures to establish an Engineering Faculty at Gulu University which will service the needs of the community, the country and the region moving forward.

Humanitarian Engineering Academic Lead Dr Andrew Dansie acknowledged GU’s successes and emphasised the many benefits of the partnership, saying, “The technological innovation and impact that Gulu University is having in its surrounding communities is truly impressive. The collaboration between GU and UNSW provides so much bilateral learning and this has benefitted staff and also students of the UNSW Humanitarian Engineering program."

“We are truly thankful for the ongoing commitment and support of Gulu University to work together on important challenges relating to the access of clean water, renewable energy, food production, and waste management," said Dr Dansie.

The next face-to-face meeting between the two institutions is being planned for late 2024, when UNSW representatives will travel to Uganda.