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GGCS Chairs End of Year Message and 2017 Outlook

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Dear Colleagues,

I pray that this message finds you in good health and best wishes to you and your family. I want to congratulate you for the achievements registered in 2016 and thank you for the support and services you render to GGCS and Makerere University at large. Enclosed herewith is a seasonal greeting card.
As we end the year, i want to share with you some highlights of the challenges and successes we registered in 2016 as well as some outlook for 2017. 2016 has been a very challenging and yet we have also registered great successes.
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Challenges 
1. Loss of family members and relatives: Death robbed us of our loved ones. Alex Nimusiima, Jamiat Nanteza, Fredrick Tumwine, Goreti Namirembe, Phoebe Tumwesigye, Victoria Mwaka, Joy Tukahirwa, George Magawa lost family members and close relatives. I want to thank members for relentlessly supporting the affected colleagues by (i) contributing Mabugo (ii) attending church services (ii) attending burial ceremonies.
2. Results submission: At the higher levels (School and college), we performed well. However, i still believe that we can improvements at the departmental level especially prior to the External Examiners
3. Delayed promotion of staff: We have 6 academic staff members who applied for promotion to various ranks. We had expected that their promotions would yield by the end of 2016, but this has not been realised. We hope that 2017 will be more kind in this regard. As a Department, we will continue to help, advise and recommend qualifying members for promotion to higher ranks. This however requires hard work at the Department, School, College and University at large.
4. Geography space: We invested a lot of resources to recover our space which is being occupied by CHUSS. We are yet to fully recover the offices but we are continuing the discussions with management and other stakeholders.
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Success Signatures of 2016
1. AARSE2016 conference: Organising AARSE2016 was a great challenge. In the end we managed to pull it off courtesy of your great efforts and support. It was more successful than AARSE2014 in Johannesburg demonstrating our organisational capacities. A big thank you to all who assisted (will not mention names) at the Departmental level, School level, College level and University Management.
2. New Staff PhD Graduates: Three staff members i.e. Dr. Peninah Twinorugyendo Mugisha, Dr. Jamiat Nanteza and Dr. Geofrey Sabiti obtained their doctorates this year. This increases the strength and capacities of the department. We once again congratulate them.
3. Hosting international Scientists: We hosted 3 international scientists (Dr. Oluwaranti, Dr. Phyllis and Dr. Johnson) for 1 year with support from the African Academy of Sciences; and two scientists supported by the Carnegie Foundation for one month each (Prof. Henry Bulley and Prof. Tonny Oyana). They came through competitive processes and worked closely with colleagues and students.
4. New research projects: We have about 12 new projects that have started or have been approved in 2016. I am extremely happy that many members have actualised our strategic appeal of grant writing as one path of developing the department and university at large. Keep it up!
5. New Book: Through a collaboration with UNDP and the Office of the Prime Minister, we were able to publish an inaugural book entitled: “Disasters and Climate Resilience in Uganda: Processes, Knowledge and Practices”. This is a contribution to knowledge management, bearing in mind that there was on DRR book before. Whilst there were challenges in developing the inaugural issues, i am optimistic that the next issue will be smoothly developed.
6. Renovation and upgrading of facilities. Together, we have mobilised funds from various sources which have been utilised to improve facilities in the Department including the Mountain Resource Centre, the Library, the new HOD office, the four offices on Lower Block, painting LT 1, computer room and the corridor. We have not reached were we want to be in terms of upgrading and improving facilities but we will continue our efforts. I want to pay tribute to staff members who have contributed funds from their projects in this direction. I will continue coming to you so that we build together.
7. International trainings and competence building courses. We held 9 international trainings and competence building courses that benefited staff, students and other stakeholders both in Uganda and outside.
8. Confirmations in service: Four members of staff were confirmed in service
9. Memorial lecture: We successfully held a memorial lecture in honour of the Late Dr. Festus Bagoora.
10. Improved collaboration and partnerships: Our collaborations and partnerships both within and outside have further improved and these have come with greater benefits. We have 6 members who are on international committees carrying the flag of the department and the university at large.
11. High level dignitaries for our activities: It was a great honour to have the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister of the Republic of Uganda, Rt. Hon. Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda opening the AARSE conference and also launching our book. Equally we also had the Minister of State for Environment Hon. Dr. Goret Kitutu Kimono as Chief Guest for the Memorial Lecture as well as the AARSE conference Dinner. The EU Ambassador to Uganda HE Kristian Schmidt also honoured us by giving a high level presentation at AARSE. GGCS was also visited by the VC, DVC (FA), DVC (AA), Principal, Deputy Principal, Dean and the University Librarian to familiarise with our work, ongoing developments and existing challenges.
 
Outlook for 2017
1. Finalising the strategic framework: We need to finalise the strategic framework of the department. We plan to solicit for funds for a retreat to enable us finalise this.
2. Cartography room and masters: The cartography room and masters room need to be further upgraded into decent rooms. We will slowly work on them.
3. Increasing the research portfolio: We need to further elevate the research portfolio by increasing publications. There is a lot of ongoing research by members. You need to work on the data, develop manuscripts with the potential to translate into papers.
4. Upgrading of infrastructure: As and when we get some funds, we will continue the upgrade of the infrastructure at our disposal including procurement of relevant equipment.
5. Approval of new programmes. We have four programmes that are awaiting approval at various levels. These include DRIM, BEGS,Climate Change and Applied Meteorology. We expect that some of them if not all will be approved in 2017.
6. Recovery of offices: We will continue efforts geared at fully recovering our offices
7. New PhD staff graduates: I expect three staff members to obtain their PhD’s in 2017.
8. Hosting international scientists: The African Academy of Sciences (AAS) will again send us three scientists whom we will host in 2017.
9. Visit of the Langlands family: The relatives of the late Prof. Langlands wrote to me indicating their desire to visit the department in 2017. This will most likely be in June 2017.
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I may have forgotten somethings, but in general thats where we are.
I wish you and your families good holidays and the best of 2017.

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