Research and Innovation



Exploring the Citations of UCU’s 2023 PhD Graduates

Uganda Christian University (UCU) celebrated a significant milestone by awarding doctoral degrees to five graduates on October 13 during the second part of the 24th graduation ceremony.

Wasswa Asaph Senoga, Doctor of Philosophy in Theology

Dr. Wasswa Asaph Senoga

Thesis Title: Financial Control Practices in the Selected Church of the Province of Uganda Dioceses of Central Buganda

Rev. Wasswa Asaph Senoga examined the subject of financial control practices in the Church of Uganda. He found out that apart from seeking the spiritual welfare of her members, the Church of the Province of Uganda has contributed significantly towards the country’s development by providing social services.

God has entrusted the Dioceses of the Church of the Province of Uganda with a lot of financial resources, but poor, or lack of proper internal control systems lead to a scarcity of funds to carry out their missionary work. Using the fraud diamond theory, the findings demonstrate that the Church of the Province of Uganda can greatly improve its internal control system with regard to establishing segregation of duties, recording of financial transactions, and authorizing the disbursement of funds.

This study provides a better understanding of the effective ways of carrying out financial controls in the dioceses. His argument is that effective Mission Dei and the Mission of the Church depend on good and stable financial practices.

Wasswa was supervised by Rev. Canon Prof. Christopher Byaruhanga and Rt. Rev. Dr. Joel Obetia.

Wankuma Abel Kibbedi, Doctor of Philosophy in Literature

Thesis Title: A Shift in Narrative Styles: Exploring the Works of Timothy Wangusa and Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

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Dr. Wankuma Abel Kibbedi

Rev. Wankuma Abel Kibbedi’s thesis focuses on Timothy Wangusa and Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s fictive prose works. He examines how these Ugandan writers employ narrative styles to demonstrate a significant shift from traditional styles that focus on Europe to African-infused methods of storytelling.

He establishes that by weaving African Oral communication into the genre while addressing contemporary issues, the two authors transform their narrative styles.

He extends his research to inspire writers and researchers to venture into unfamiliar territories that can be found in the limitless possibilities of human creativity in the realm of narrative technique and the art of storytelling.

Wakuma was supervised by Prof. Timothy Wangusa and Prof. Danson Kahyana.

Gladys Ayot, Doctor of Philosophy in Education Administration and Management

Thesis Title: Domestic Violence and Teachers’ Performance in Uganda: Interrogating Female Teachers’ Experiences in Secondary Schools in Kitgum District.

Dr. Gladys Ayot

Dr. Gladys Ayot interrogated the experiences of female teachers at Secondary schools in Kitgum district and focused on how domestic violence impacts their teaching and administrative roles. She explored the coping mechanisms and the support available in schools.

Her study established that domestic violence unfavorably impacts female teachers’ delivery and interpersonal relations. Her findings indicate that female teachers who are victims of domestic violence negotiate through associated challenges using both formal and informal structures but with limited support.

She recommends a mainstreamed supportive policy framework and tools for empowering female teachers and head teachers to reduce the adverse effects of domestic violence on teachers.

Ayot was supervised by Dr. Wilson Eduan and Dr. Mary Ocheng Kagoire.

Faith Mbabazi, Doctor of Philosophy in Education Administration and Management

Thesis Title: Role Conflict and Burnout of Administrators in Selected Higher Educational Institutions in Uganda.

Dr. Faith Mbabazi’s thesis examines the relationship between multiple roles and burnout for administrators in Higher Education Institution in Uganda. The study suggests a link between role conflict and burnout of administrators, particularly emotional exhaustion. She established that administrators experience various role conflicts in their day-to-day activities.

Dr. Faith Mbabazi

The study contributes to the growing interest in investigating influences of role conflict on burnout of employees in Higher Education Institutions. She recommends that mangers of Higher Education Institutions need to take interest in the mental health of staff and provide them with training in burnout management competencies.

She also recommends the creation of a more conducive environment and to carry out burnout tests for early detection of burnout symptoms for intervention to avoid adverse effects.

Mbabazi was supervised by Dr. Wilson Eduan and Dr. Mary Ocheng Kagoire.

UCU David Sengendo, Doctor of Philosophy in Education Administration and Management

Thesis Title: Transformational Leadership and Academic Performance of Secondary Schools in Uganda

Dr. David Sengendo’s research explored the influence of transformational leadership on the academic performance of Head teachers in Ugandan Secondary Schools. His study found out that transformational leadership attributes play a crucial role in determining Head teachers’ performance in Secondary schools.

Dr. David Sengendo

The findings of this study will benefit education policymakers and implementers at all levels because it provides insights into the leadership attributes that effective leaders in secondary schools can employ and how these attributes impact academic performance therein.

He recommends training service frameworks that offer effective leadership and management skills to especially Secondary School leaders in Uganda.

Sengendo was supervised by Dr. Wilson Eduan and Dr. Benon Musinguzi.


Dr. Ssepuya wins USD 63,750 grant from the UNCST

By Irene Best Nyapendi,

Geoffrey Ssepuya, a Senior lecturer at Uganda Christian University (UCU), has won a grant, worth USD 63,750, from Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST). The grant focusing on “Piloting the production of low cost protein and micronutrient rich cricket feed from food waste in Kampala,” will run for 18 months.

Out of over 400 people who applied for the grant, only three won it. That is to say; Dr. Geoffrey Ssepuya from the UCU Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, Prof. Charles Muyanga and Prof. Archileo Kaaya from Makerere University.

On October 10, during the UNCST grant launch at UCU, Deborah Kasule, Outreach & Information Management Head, announced the winners of the grant on behalf of the UNCST executive secretary as she highlighted on their partnership with UCU.

“We value the partnership we have with UCU and recognize the role higher education plays in knowledge generation,” Kasule said.

UCU Vice Chancellor Applauds Ssepuya’s Groundbreaking Research in Cricket Feed Production

Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi the UCU Vice Chancellor congratulated Ssepuya upon this win, mentioning that it is through research that the university can make an impact on the innovation sector in Uganda.

“At UCU we are consciously making efforts to build our research portfolio. It is a joy for me to witness this award ceremony to scholars taking ground breaking research addressing a national need,” Mushengyezi said.

He also commended UNCST for considering and supporting private universities.

This is the second phase of Ssepuya’s research as he looks at how to sustain increased cricket feed productions.

During the first phase, his finding was: high returns on investment if one used the formulated feeds and the cost of production is relatively low. With the formulated feeds, the crickets require 8 – 10 weeks to mature, faster than on normal food waste where they will take about 12 weeks.

One of the areas he is focusing on in this second phase includes enhancing the packaging and distribution of the formulated feeds.

Specific objectives of the study:

Establishing sorted food waste collection/supply from households, markets, and food service centers.

Establishing and equipping a private sector pilot food waste up cycling facility.

Training food waste handlers, feed retailers on processing and storage practices.

Relevance of the research project

This project aims at converting food waste to cricket feed, support cricket growth, and increased protein availability.

Crickets can be used to enrich the diet with protein and other nutrients when added to daily meals. It is a common practice in Uganda to eat fried insects such as crickets and grasshoppers. In this project, crickets, which have more protein than fish and beef, are ground to be mixed with staple flours for porridge and food. 

“Instead of consuming cassava bread that is only about 2% protein or even less, communities can supplement it with crickets which are 50 – 65 % rich in proteins,” Ssepuuya says. “So, with the feeds now available they can rear the crickets, dry them under the sun, grind them into powder and add the protein-rich powder to their food.”

The most common sources of proteins such as meat, milk and chicken are not affordable to many Ugandans, yet it can now be redeemed from eating crickets. 

Outcomes of the research

Sustainable production of nutritious (low cost) cricket feed.

Increased farmer participation in cricket rearing due to increased profitability.

Increased conversion of food waste to cricket feed.

Reduced disposal of organic solid food waste at non-gazetted areas.

Increased employment opportunities for youth and women (Those employed to process food waste).

Increased access to information about food waste processing and cricket production.

Increased research and feed processing capacity built.

Increased collaboration among researchers and stakeholders in solid food waste management.

Dr. Nicholas Odongo Research Fellow African Centre for Technology, the keynote speaker at the UNCST grant launch mentioned the need of turning research into market.

“Today universities are called upon to go beyond knowledge generation into generation of more practical and less abstract solutions. If the research doesn’t lead to employment creation, then it has been half useful,” Odongo said.

He added that innovation needs not to be part of but rather the core culture of a university because technology is the only means for socioeconomic transformation.


Raising a child while seeking for knowledge

With support from the SG-NAPI ‘Scientist after Child’ scheme, Ugandan agronomist Rosemary Bulyaba may now both look after her children and conduct research that helps her community.

Ugandan agronomist Rosemary Bulyaba is exploring how to find varieties of cowpea that are more resilient to adverse climatic conditions, can thrive in various soils types and environments, and whose leaves can be utilized as vegetables and are rich in vital nutrients such as iron and folate. Bulyaba is the dean of the Uganda Christian University (UCU) Faculty of Agriculture Sciences. However must also balance her research work with her role as a mother of two children, a 2-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl.

However, her second maternity leave has been much easier than the first one, because, while working at the Uganda Christian University (UCU), in Mukono, Uganda, she received a special grant that TWAS established in collaboration with the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Called the Seed Grant for New African Principal Investigators (SG-NAPI), it offers an unprecedented mother-friendly component called ‘Scientist after Child’ scheme. This scheme allows pregnant scientists and new mothers to receive extra funding to hire a lab assistant, thus obtaining reliable maternity leave support.

“Receiving the SG-NAPI was a huge help for my scientific career. I could continue my research with the aid of an assistant while staying at home and breastfeeding,” she explained. “This grant has strengthened my reputation and increased my value at UCU. My career was uplifted: I was head of the department and now I am the Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences.”

The SG-NAPI grant meets the needs of early-career scientists from developing countries, and, in particular, from the least developed countries (LDCs). With funding entirely from BMBF, it allows young scientists to purchase the research facilities they need to enhance their productivity. Its ‘Scientists after Child’ scheme seeks to enhance the productivity of female scientists returning to academia after maternity leave. Another component of the programme, the ‘Master of Science training grant’, allows scientists to train master’s students within their research group. Bulyaba benefitted from both these components.

A mother-friendly scheme

Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) is an annual herbaceous legume originally used to feed animals, especially by smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa – hence the name cowpea.  However, it is becoming increasingly relevant in human nutrition, as it is rich in protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and fiber, and low in fat content.

Bulyaba’s interest in nutrition-sensitive agriculture and agronomic management practices is not recent. Her early step in science led her to study grain legumes such as cowpeas, common beans, lablab beans, and soybeans. In 2019, she earned a PhD in crop production, physiology, and sustainable agriculture from Iowa State University, US, and then moved back to Uganda. Shortly thereafter, she discovered that she was expecting, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was about to begin.

“I was afraid that I would have to halt my scientific career for a while, because my husband and I already had a young daughter, who was only 1 year old at the time, to take care of. However, field and lab work are often quite demanding,” she recalled.

Rosemary Bulyaba
Rosemary Bulyaba inspecting the offshoots in a cowpea field. (Photo provided)

An agronomist’s life is physically intense. The fieldworkbegins with land preparation and the planting of the seeds. Then weekly monitoring activity requires extra work to ensure that the plants have germinated and are growing well—otherwise a new round of sowing is needed. Sometimes insects ruin the crop, and scientists need to use pesticides to keep those at bay.

When Bulyaba was still a new staff member and a mother for the second time, she learned about a programme that would preserve her work. The former Dean of Bulyaba’s faculty mentioned the SG-NAPI grant and the mother-friendly scheme. Bulyaba applied, and her maternity leave improved. With a two-year long grant covering 2022 and 2023, she could hire an assistant who supports in supervising the research activities while she is at home with her kids. This also ensures that her master’s students have the support they need and prevents a gap in her scientific work.

“I have three sites to check on periodically, in Eastern Uganda, Central Uganda, and in greenhouses,” Bulyaba explained. “With my students, we are now testing over 100 different genotypes, across these sites, to see which ones best adapt to these environments, under those specific conditions. It is interesting to see how plants behave under conditions that are apparently similar, but in practice different.” Some of the cowpea genotypes are from Ghana, others from Makerere University, and from UCU where Bulyaba is employed.

A mother’s impact on child wellbeing

The grant’s impact was enormous, not only on her career. In a more relaxed mood at home, Bulyaba offered her newborn, Shaun, quality time, and the difference from the first pregnancy was evident.

“My presence at home brought several benefits to my son, who is more self-confident, assertive, and prompt from a cognitive point of view,” she observed. He was breastfed for 18 months, while his sister stopped after four. In addition, Shaun, not yet 3, can count one-to-ten, recite the alphabet, identify shapes and colours, and has started speaking both his native language, Luganda, and English without having attended kindergarten yet.

The SG-NAPI grant put Bulyaba in the position to make a difference also for young scientists in her community. She hired two master’s students, Naome Aryatwijuka and Norah Akaba, whose role in this cowpea research is crucial.

Rosemary Bulyaba's MSc students
Naome Aryatwijuka (left) and Nora Akaba, Rosemary Bulyaba’s master’s students, checking the sprouts in a greenhouse in Mukono, Uganda. (Photo provided)

Aryatwijuka, who conducts agronomic field work and experimentation, is a master’s student in agriculture research. She handles tasks such as planting the seeds, collecting the leaves, and correlating the quality and yield of the harvested crops with specific genotypes and field locations. Then Akaba steps in.

Thanks to the SG-NAPI grant, Akaba can pursue her master’s degree in human nutrition. She uses Aryatwijuka’s information to select the most potentially nutritious leaves, which are naturally rich in micronutrients that are especially important for reproductive-age women. She is also involved in the preparation and development of a nutritionally dense cowpea soup for the local communities. Additionally, she is working on gathering feedback from community members regarding the quality and acceptability of the meal.

“I feel quite privileged because the SG-NAPI grant gave me the chance to hire two young women and have an impact on their education and career,” Bulyaba said. “Women often face more challenges and have fewer privileges compared to men, and having a child can often so easily lead to the end of their scientific career. I do hope that both Akaba and Aryatwijuka will also pursue a PhD after this master’s experience.”

“Receiving this grant was not only for me but for my students as well,” she concluded.

This article, written by By Cristina Serra was published on The World Academy of Sciences.

Health Crises and Media Discourses in Sub-Saharan Africa: New Book

New Book: Dralega, C.A., and Napakol, A. (eds). Health Crises and Media Discourses in Sub-Saharan Africa. Springer, Cham.

A Review

This is an open-access book that brings together leading scholars and critical discourses on political, economic, legal, technological, socio-cultural and systemic changes and continuities intersecting media and health crises in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

The volume extensively discusses COVID-19 but it also covers other epidemics, such as malaria, HIV/AIDS as well as “silent” health crises such as mental health—simmering across the subcontinent.

The chapters fill knowledge gaps, highlight innovations, and unpack the complexities surrounding the media ecosystem in times of health crises. They explore, among other issues, the politics of public health communication; infodemics; existential threats to media viability; draconian legislations; threats to journalists/journalism; COVID-related entrepreneurship, marginalization, and more.

This is a timely resource for academics, advocacy groups, media practitioners and policymakers working on crises and media reporting, not just in Africa but anywhere in the global South.


…Some African responses on media and health issues are examined in this book by a whole new generation of public health communicators who are homegrown, African graduates, sometimes of international research and training collaborations, who are responding to their own particular national environments. Just as African scholarship and health campaign strategy can positively inform global approaches, the support of the big Northern publishers—in this case, Springer—is just as important. Where the earlier generation cut their teeth on HIV/AIDS, the new generation seems destined to deal with successive and increasingly intense and interrelated crises: health, climate change and environmental degradation. Thus this is one book that can speak intelligently to these issues from the perspective of the Global South. And, the task that they are taking on is herculean.Foreword by Keyan Gray Tomaselli– University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa

The book cover and contents can be accessed here:

About the Editors


Dr. Carol Azungi Dralega is an Associate Professor and Head of Research at the Department of Journalism, Media and Communication, NLA University College, Kristiansand, Norway. She holds a Ph.D. in Media and Communication Studies from the University of Oslo, Norway.


Dr. Angella Napakol is a researcher and Senior Lecturer at the School of Journalism, Media and Communication, Uganda Christian University. She holds a Ph.D. in Mass Communication/Media Studies, from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

How conspiracy beliefs affect COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy

By Dr. Emilly Comfort Maractho

The outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in 2020 created substantial fear among communities and countries about the future. It seemed to have come from ‘nowhere’ even after China announced its arrival. Many questions arose as to whether it was deliberately created and released by scientists and their allies for some unknown reasons. 

Governments across the globe launched interventions to facilitate the public’s compliance with preventive and mitigative measures, also known as Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). The measures included physical distancing also known as social distancing, regular handwashing, wearing masks, and vaccination to boost herd immunity

Speculation soon became a common feature of COVID-19, about the cause, the effects, and the people behind it. Theories begun to emerge around these issues. 

Uganda enacted legislations, restrictions, policies and interventions to prevent and mitigate the spread and impact of COVID-19. These included, but were not limited to, the Uganda Public Health (Control of COVID – 19) Rules, 2020; guidelines on mass gatherings including social meetings such as burials and weddings; guidelines on meeting at workplaces, guidelines on use of public transport; among others.  

Whereas the world was relieved about the availability of COVID-19 vaccines, emergent concerns around safety and effects were prevalent. The concerns and doubts about vaccines were mainly driven by conspiracy theories related to COVID-19 vaccination, sometimes widely shared among the population.  

Conspiracy theories cannot be taken lightly. At Uganda Christian University, Prof. Kukunda Elizabeth Bacwayo, an Associate Prof. of Governance and Development in the School of Social Sciences, with a multi-disciplinary team of colleagues from UCU were awarded a research grant by the university to study how conspiracy beliefs affected COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy in Uganda. In a three-year project that covers a large-scale online and physical survey of over 1000 respondents, to be followed by in-depth interviews, the team aims at examining the conspiracy beliefs and their implications for COVID-19 vaccination in Uganda. 

The research is guided by five specific objectives, namely: 

(i) To measure the extent to which conspiracy belief about vaccination against COVID-19 is spread among Ugandans; 

(ii) To establish the relationship between conspiracy belief and vaccination hesitancy in Uganda; 

(iii) To explore the interaction between exposure to COVID-19 conspiracy theories and individual vaccination decisions; 

(iv) To examine the gendered impact of conspiracy belief on vaccination hesitancy; 

(v) To examine how the conspiracy beliefs of adults are likely to affect decision to vaccinate children for COVID-19.  

The researchers note that, whereas in developed countries studies have already established the significant relationship between conspiracy theories and decline in vaccination rates, such studies are very few in developing countries. For instance, Maftei and Holman in 2020, in their study, ‘beliefs in conspiracy theories, intolerance of uncertainty, and moral disengagement during the coronavirus crisis’ highlighted that conspiracy beliefs had significant impact on disobeying the social distancing regulations seeking to limit the spread of the SARS-CoV-2.

The researchers are aware that in countries like Uganda with a population highly characterized by low education and poor access to information, beliefs in conspiracy theories and impact are expected to be high.  Still, little is known and done to minimize the impact of misinformation on COVID-19 prevention. In addition, with more people owning smartphones, conspiracy theories are likely to flourish as a result of high exposure to various ideas. 

Some of the examples of conspiracy theories include:

  • The belief that the G5 cellular network is responsible for causing COVID-19,
  • Bill Gates’ plan to depopulate the world,
  • Vaccinations having microchips that can be used to monitor behaviour. 
  • Others include the belief that those who get vaccinated will die in a few years, and that the whole COVID-19 pandemic was a political stunt.  

The primary outcome of this study is to understand how conspiracy beliefs affect the individual willingness to get vaccinated. Findings from this study could be used to improve on the efforts geared towards pro-vaccine attitudes and interest in COVID-19 vaccination. The main outcome will be a change in behavior towards vaccination for COVID-19 despite the existence of conspiracy theories and management of future vaccination drives.

The research has gone through both institutional and national ethical clearance processes. The first phase has been completed and will soon be made public. 

UCU partners with German-based universities on renewable energy and more

KTN Factory

By Jimmy Siyasa

“Renewables are by far the cheapest form of power today,” once remarked Francesco La Camera, the Director General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). This is a fact. Not only that, but they are also the most eco-friendly forms of energy humanity can have today.

We live in a time where the ecosystem is under daily attack; being sacrificed on the altar of development/industrialization, and needs a “saviour”.

An April 2022 study this year by the World Economic Forum found that by 2020, only a slight “9% of all energy generated in Africa came from renewable sources,” yet the continent has massive potential to be a leading player in the global renewable energy sector.

Germany: Prof. Mushengyezi meets with the President of Neu-Ulm University of Applied Sciences, Prof. Uta Feser, and the Vice President for Internationalization, Prof. Elmar Steurer.

In response to this challenge, Uganda Christian University (UCU) has embarked on the pursuit of partnerships, especially with various institutions of higher learning in big-player countries regarding renewables. The latest are German-based universities.

Early this week, the UCU Vice Chancellor, Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi, met with the President of Neu-Ulm University of Applied Sciences (HNU), Prof. Uta Feser, and the Vice President for Internationalization, Prof. Elmar Steurer, in Germany. They discussed the possibility of joint projects, among other mutual pursuits.

Prof. Mushengyezi and Prof. Feser also agreed to renew the partnership agreement focusing on research and student exchange.

UCU and HNU have been implementing a project on renewable energy (solar project) in the Koome Islands, led by Dr. Miria Agunyo, Assoc. Prof. Elizabeth Kizito, Dr. Stephen Kyakulumbye and Dr. Jeremy Waiswa; who are all UCU researchers and some senior academic administrators.

The solar power project named the “Implementation of Solar Mini-Grids for Digital Learning Models in the Rural Areas of Uganda,” seeks to provide access to reliable electricity and clean energy for the islanders who have known darkness for years.

The UCU team also visited Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences in Munich. It specializes in agriculture-related disciplines and renewable energy. Discussions with the university management focused on the possibilities of partnerships in agricultural, food science, and renewable energy areas. Thereafter, the UCU toured the KTN Factory, based in Bavaria, Germany. It is one of the industry partners of HNU.

  • Prof. Mushengyezi exchanges a gift with Prof. UFeser,
  • KTN FactoryUCU team visiting KTN Factory, one of the industry partners with HNU.