SFA February Newsletter - Glasgow strengthens ties with Africa


The Sustainable Futures in Africa (SFA) Network is an interdisciplinary collective comprising five research hubs – Botswana, Malawi, Nigeria, Scotland, and Uganda – which is addressing socio-ecological sustainability challenges.

The Network includes researchers (geography, education, social arts, health, environment, engineering), third-sector organisations (environmental and social sustainability, arts and cultural practice, and community engagement) and community stakeholders.

Each hub is engaged in projects that correspond to local contexts, with communities’ challenges and needs at the heart of all activities. Our projects favour interdisciplinary and international approaches to local issues, bringing together local communities and interdisciplinary teams.

Here is the SFA February Newsletter:



Sustainable Futures in Africa
February, 2020

We are pleased to reveal our new website, which was launched in December at the SFA end-of-year party in Glasgow. Thanks to all our members who contributed, and to the digital designer, Mr Alasdair Currie of XY&Z Creative.
As well, our new logo can be seen above. It was designed and shared across all five hubs before being adopted.



4th Annual Symposium of the SFA Network

From March 16-18, some SFA members will attend the 4th Annual Symposium, which will be held at the Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe, Malawi. This year’s focus is Exploring Participation. The 40 attendees will meet for two days and participate in sessions on the SFA Network's structure and governance, strategic planning, hub development, research impact and grant application. They will also have the opportunity to engage with the consortium on Cancer Research from the University of Glasgow and diverse Malawian institutions in joint sessions.
On the third day, the symposium will focus on the diverse understandings and practices of participation in research, in particular with communities. We ask what “community engaged research” really means in different contexts. And, how might we develop more responsive, more effective, and more ethical practices in relation to communities?  To explore these questions, the delegation will split up and travel to one of three of our partner community contexts: Tikondwe Freedom Gardens / Chinkhwiri Village; Dedza community; and Mbando Village.

Public Spaces in Malawi: Photo Essays

Last year, Elson Kambalu, Deepa Pullanikkatil, Boyson Moyo and Stewart Paul collaborated on a series of beautiful photo essays, available here.


Developing Partnerships

The SFA Malawi hub has continued collaborating with its partners, both new and old. Below is an update on some recent activities.

A visit up North
In early April 2019, members of the Malawi Hub (Dr Boyson Moyo, Stewart Paul and Elson Kambalu, together with Dr Deepa Pullanikkatil) visited the Northern region of Malawi to establish new connections and partnerships. The hub held meetings with Mzuzu University and the University of Livingstonia (UNILIA). At UNILIA, the Vice Chancellor and University Registrar signed a Memorandum of Understanding to join the network. Our members also met with Moses Mkandawire, director of Church and Society, which is a governance desk for the Synod of Livingstonia of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian Church. All the meetings centred on introducing SFA and inviting new members.

Partnership with Mzuzu University
On 22 October, 2019, a meeting to respond to a call by Sustainable Health and Learning Cities was held at Mzuzu University with Rochelle Holm, manager at the Center of Excellence and Water Sanitation. This was the first engagement with Mzuzu University since it became a partner of the SFA Malawi hub, having signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the 16th September, 2019. Mzuzu University has since been active in the Malawi hub with proposal writing and engagements through social media.
Partnership with MCVS
On 26 October, 2019, Malawi hub director Dr Boyson Moyo travelled to Mzimba District and was involved in a graduation at Mzimba Christian Vocational School, an SFA Malawi hub partner.

Deepa's visit to Malawi

In April, 2019, SFA co-director visited Malawi for a series of activities, including a presentation at UNICEF's Malawi headquarters (view her PowerPoint presentation) and a day-long workshop on proposal writing at LUANAR, the Malawi hub's home university. This workshop culminated in one proposal being funded by the Climate Justice Innovation Fund, and another being shortlisted but losing in the final round.
In addition, Deepa and the Malawian hub members participated in a meeting with the villagers of Mbando, which used drama activities and open discussion to explore the Population, Health and Environment nexus. This innovative meeting is described in a blog post written by the participants.

Update: Former hub administrator in Glasgow

Former Malawi hub Research Administrator Stewart Paul is now based at the University of Glasgow, where he is on a full scholarship for the MSc program in Educational Studies in Adult, Community and Youth Contexts. Stewart's Masters research project, which is being supervised by SFA co-director Dr Mia Perry, is entitled "The Implications of Foreign Aid on Educational Policy in Malawi". You can read more about Stewart's journey on our website.
New members
The Malawi hub is pleased to welcome two new members.
  Dr. Rochelle Holm (PhD) works primarily on issues of water, sanitation, and hygiene, bridging the gap between research and innovative practice. She focuses on the fields of public health and environmental sciences with nearly 20 years of experience. Most recently she has supported projects with UNICEF, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the Water Research Commission/Gates Foundation, and the Malawi Government, with a focus on sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene technologies, innovation in faecal sludge management and strategies for users with disabilities. She has been the Manager of the Centre of Excellence in Water and Sanitation at Mzuzu University since 2012, and oversees day-to-day operations.
  Ms. Josephine Marion Zimba is a Lecturer in Environment and Sustainable Development at the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources. She has a Master’s of Science in Climate Change and Sustainable Development from the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Josephine also holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Science from the University of Malawi. Josephine is currently a member of the National Technical Committee on Climate Change. Besides teaching, she is involved in working with rural communities on development and environmental issues. Key is increasing communities’ resilience to environmental shocks. Her research interests are mainly in the area of Climate Change Science and its politics, Environmental and Natural Resources Justice and Sustainability. She is currently studying for her PhD in Geography and Earth Sciences at the University of Glasgow with a particular focus on situated resilience to climate change.



International Wetlands Day

To mark International Wetlands Day (February 2nd), SFA member and former Uganda hub administrator Anthony Kadoma has contributed a blog post entitled "A Cry from the Wetlands of Africa". In addition, current Ugandan hub administrator Dalton Otim warns about the dangers of land reclamation to Uganda's vital wetlands.
Update: Former hub administrator in Glasgow
In 2019, former Uganda hub Research Administrator Anthony Kadoma joined the University of Glasgow's School of Interdisciplinary Studies to begin a PhD in Environmental Sustainability. His fieldwork will be conducted in Uganda, with the topic of "Understanding the perceptions of multiple stakeholders of the ecosystem services provided by wetlands to improve restoration activities". His supervisors are Dr Mia Perry and Prof Fabrice Renaud, You can find out more about Anthony's journey here.
New members
The Uganda hub welcomes a new member from African Rural University and a new Research Administrator based in Makerere University.
  Dr Mwalimu Musheshe is a co-founder of the Uganda Rural Development and Training program (URDT). He has founded several formal innovative educational institutions that train young people to be catalysts of change using the URDT methodology. The award-winning URDT Girls School that Dr Musheshe founded links education to rural development in an innovative way by enhancing both academic succes and skills to enable them to act as "change agents" for their families and communities.
Dr Musheshe's areas of research interest include Pedagogical Instructions of learning, Lifelong learning and Youth empowerment and employability, Girl Child Emancipation through education, the Ecosystem of young entrepreneurs and African philosophy and cultural anthropology.
  Mr Otim Joe Dalton is currently pursuing his master's degree in Business Administration at Lira University, where he will soon defend his dissertation. He has also done a professional course in accountancy at the Institute of Certified Public Accountants Uganda, and he has a postgraduate diploma in Financial Management from the Uganda Management Institute, a bacherlor's degree in Business Administration from Gulu University, and a diploma in Secondary Eduation from Kyambobo University.
One important aspect of Dalton's work as a finance and administration officer is working with communities using Step-up methodology, wihch considers life holistically. Dalton is proud to have been an agent of change in the lives of marginalized communities in Northern Uganda.



An award for WEP
Congratulations to SFA partners Women Environment Programme, who won a 2019 Energy Globe award for their work on the solar dryer tent project in Adogo.

Impact story from Nigeria: Policymakers engagement on artisanal gold mining
During a field trip to Itagunmodi, a mining community in the Western part of Nigeria, SFA Nigeria members found that the roles of the people, traditional institutions, regularity authorities and government authorities are crucial in community development. Read more in this interview with Nigerian hub coordinator Dr Sola Ajayi.

The Life of an artisanal miner
Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) accounts for over 90% of solid mining in Nigeria. The sector is informal and serves as a means of livelihood for over 2 million people in Nigeria, including women and children. For our blog, Nigerian hub administrator Grace Awosanmi has provided a unique profile on the difficult, risky life of an artisanal miner.

New members
The Nigeria hub is pleased to welcome three additional members.
  Dr Olalekan Elijah Ojedokun is an Associate Profesor of Social Studies and Sustainability Education. He is a seasoned researcher in sustainable development issues. he has published several articles on the human development index and ecological footprints, climate change education, and strategies for mainstreaming education for sustainability into Nigerian teacher education programmes. His work has appeared in both domestic and international journals.
  Mr Aluko Ebenezer Tolulope has a degree in Geology and Mining and a master's degree in Applied Geophysics. His research focus is on geology and mineral potential. He has over eight years' experience as a mining consultant, a member of the Council of Nigerian Mining Engineers and Geoscientists (COMEG) and the Mining and Geosciences Society (NMGS).
Sehinde Ayoola Akinbiola is an ecologist specializing in bio geography, ecological modelling, biodiversity and conservation, and ecosystem ecology, with strong knowledge of advanced remote sensing and GIS techniques. Sehinde holds his first degree in Forestry and Wood Technology, a post graduate diploma degree in Remote Sensing and GIS, an MSc degree in Environmental Management and Control and a concluded doctoral degree in Ecology and Environmental Science. He presently works at the Institute of Sustainable Development, First technical University, Ibadan, Oyo State as a Research Fellow.




Building Projects and Branching Out
Last year, the Botswana hub held a community engagement meeting in Mmadinare, in which the residents identified the need for training in order to better utilize local resources to improve local livelihoods. Read more about the outcome of the meeting and how you can help.

In addition, the Youth Futures call has introduced new members from Glasgow and a new research theme in Botswana about youth, education, employability. An application is in with the British Academy, and it is being picked up for a major new grant application led by the Botswana hub with an African funding agency. 

Forthcoming publication

Dr M.A. Mpotokwane, Prof O.M Modise, Prof R.N. Lekoko and Prof O.T. Thakadu have contributed a chapter to the forthcoming book Environmental Sustainability in Development: Case Studies from Botswana's journey towards 2030 Agenda (editors: Susan O. Keitumetse, Michael V. Flyman, David Norris and Luc Hans). Their chapter is entitled "Sustainable Management of Water, Wildlife and Agriculture in Botswana: The case of Mmadinare Area".




Coming soon: A critical resource for ethical international partnerships

In March 2019, some SFA Network members met in Glasgow for a writing workshop co-organized by Dr Mia Perry and Prof Jo Sharp. The objectives of the workshop were to explore ways of sharing the SFA network’s approach to research and partnerships in international contexts, while challenging the neo-colonial and often very narrow processes of knowledge creation, “development”, and collaboration. A booklet entitled “A Critical Resource for Ethical International Partnerships” has been written by the group and will shortly be available online through the SFA Website, with printed copies available upon request.


Partnership with the Glasgow School of Art’s design students – Future Experiences

This fall, the SFA Network collaborated with the Glasgow School of Art’s Innovation School. Over the semester, the 4th year product design students worked on a project on the theme of “Future Experiences: Sustainable Development & the Global South”. During this 8-week project, the cohort investigated future forms and functions of sustainable development work in relation to the Global South, ultimately developing a future scenario and designing the artefacts, services and experiences associated with life 10 years from now. You can read more about the event here and here.

Centre for Sustainable Solutions

Dr Mia Perry, one of the SFA Network Co-Directors, led the initiative of the establishment of the new Centre for Sustainable Solutions, a University of Glasgow initiative to coordinate activities around sustainability across the different layers/actors within the university (academics, services staff, students, etc.). We expect the official launch of the Centre to be held in February 2020. This initiative is timely considering that Glasgow will be hosting the 26th Conference of the Parties, known as COP26, a United Nations climate change summit.

Recent visitors to the University of Glasgow

From September 3rd to September 12th, Dr Deepa Pullanikkatil, one of the co-directors of the SFA Network, visited the Scotland hub at the University of Glasgow. During her visit, she gave a presentation entitled “International development: Challenges & perspectives from an African NGO”.

She also met with various members of the SFA Network from Scotland and beyond, such as Dr Twine Bananuka and Dr Charles Masembe from the Ugandan hub, whose visit coincided with hers. Deepa also gave an interview to DEVEX.

More recently, from January 12th to February 1st 2020, Mr Reagan Kandole, Executive Director of ECOaction, visited the Scotland hub with support from SFA to work in collaboration with Glasgow-based researchers on a funding opportunity, as well as to make a presentation to Design students at the Glasgow School of Art. He is currently working in collaboration with Dr Mia Perry on an initiative entitled “Plastic arts and EcoAction through education”, which focuses on supporting a plastic waste reduction project in schools and slum communities in urban Uganda. The project will explore the potentials of plastic re-use through collaborations in design and engineering.

In addition, ECOaction has received a grant from the US State Department to carry out a clean air project in five schools in Kampala, As part of the project, ECOaction will be developing and installing a number of fun, interactive bins (pictured above) to mainstream the idea of waste separation and to educate the students in rethinking, reducing, reusing and recycling. 

Finally, from January 27th to 31st, Professor Sola Ajayi, Director of the Nigerian Hub, and Dr Sehinde Akinbiola, a Research Fellow from the Institute of Sustainable Development, First Technical University, Ibadan, visited the Scotland hub through an SFC-GCRF initiative entitled "Nigerian illegal mining: Can we learn from Colombian 'worst practice' to avert catastrophic socio-environmental impacts?", led by Dr Neil Burnside. 

The objective of the meeting was to facilitate an exchange of knowledge between the Nigerian hub and the researchers working in Chocó, Colombia in an effort to avoid the scale of illegal mining there, which has had catastrophic socio-environmental impacts. Some new partnerships were built during Prof Ajayi and Dr Akinbiola’s visit and should lead to new, cross-sector and cross-context research projects between the two teams.

Prof Ajayi also gave a presentation in the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences on January 28th. The presentation was entitled: “Land, Mining and Community Relations in the Global South – Experiences from Nigeria”. This presentation can be viewed on our YouTube channel.


Research Proposals submitted by the Scotland hub as lead institution
From March 2019 to December 2019, the Scotland hub made efforts to secure new research funds in partnership with the other four hubs through various funding opportunities, listed below. 

**Underlined amounts represent successful initiatives and bold ones represent initiatives still under review by the funding councils.
  • Community engagement in international and development-led research – UofG GCRF-SFC (£39,741);
  • Sustainable Futures in Africa (SFA) network’s administrative support – UofG GCRF-SFC (£74,941);
  • Nigerian illegal mining: Can we learn from Colombian ‘worst practice’ to avert catastrophic socio-environmental impacts? – UofG GCRF-SFC (£11,340);
  • Understanding of the impacts of hydrometeorological hazards on agriculture and food security in Malawi – UofG GCRF-SFC (£7,500);
  • Education and Youth Enterprise in Malawi – UofG GCRF-SFC (£23,600);
  • Plastic arts and EcoAction through education – UofG GCRF-SFC (£23,600);
  • Exploring behaviours, infrastructure and waste-management strategies for single use plastic across high- and low-income countries – GCRF-SFC (£29,917);
  • Sustainable Futures in Africa Network extension – University of St Andrews GCRF-SFC (£35,270);
  • CoSS Researcher Development Programme Intern (£1,000);
  • Pluriversal literacies for sustainable and equitable futures, European Research Council, Starting Grant (€1,500,000);
  • Participatory Futures Cluster - GCRF-Clusters (£121,666);
  • Skills Ecosystems in Youth Futures - GA GO NA TIRO | Ko si ise – British Academy Youth Futures (£269,219);
  • Sustainable Futures in Africa – Writing Workshop – British Academy Writing Workshop (£20,000).

Research administrators/managers workshop in Tanzania

In March 2019, five of the SFA Administrators attended a workshop in Arusha, Tanzania organised by the University of Glasgow. The aim of the workshop was to cover topics related to Research Administration as a career, the responsibilities associated with the role, the challenges it involves, etc. It was a great opportunity for the Research Administrators to exchange information about similarities and differences across institutions within the SFA Network, but also outside of it. This month, three other SFA members will attend the second edition of the event in Cape Town, South Africa.

Resources & Opportunities

A list of global symposia on SDGs and climate change is available here.

An opportunity can be found here for Nigerian researchers (based in Nigeria) who have an interest in urban studies. 
Appliations are now open for SHLC’s Capacity Development Acceleration Fund and Visiting Research Fellowship.


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