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Research Stories

Showcasing Collaborative Research in Africa

Creating careers through the science of Radio Astronomy

Development in Africa with Radio Astronomy (DARA)

https://www.dara-project.org/
The project provides training in the skills involved in radio astronomy to young graduates in nine African countries. One aim is to create sustainable research groups in this area ready for the world’s biggest radio telescope array, part of which is being built in South Africa. The skills in radio technology and techniques, data analysis and AI can also be used in other areas such as the space sector and our industrial partners showcase those pathways. Hence, another aim is to create high-tech jobs around space sector hubs.

Partner Organisations
Technical University of Kenya (TUK), Kenyan Space Agency, Kenyan Optical Telescope Initiative (KOTI), University of Pretoria (UP)

Principal Investigator
Melvin Hoare

Changing the Story

Changing the Story by working with young people to build strong institutions that support communities to deliver social justice

https://www.changingthestory.leeds.ac.uk/
Changing the Story ran for 7 years, between 2016-2023. It was a collaborative project between universities, International Non-Government Organisations (INGOs), artists, grassroots civil society organisations and young people across the world. The project aimed to evaluate present and inform future practice of civil society organisations working with young people in these settings to build strong institutions that could support communities to deliver sustained social justice. In this presentation we are focussed on its work with the Bishop Simeon Trust and Hope and Homes for Children. Changing the Story helped these organisations to use participatory arts to develop a leadership programme that helped vulnerable young people living in Ekurhuleni develop new ways of raising awareness of the issues they face and advocating for change.

Partner Organisations
University of Pretoria, South African Holocaust & Genocide Foundation (SAHGF), Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP) (Rwanda), South African grassroots Civil Society Organisation (CSO) Pala Forerunners (PF), Batonga Community Museum in Binga and the Basilwizi Yrust youth NGO (Zimbabwe), The Bishop Simeon Trust (SA), Rwanda Education Board (REB) and Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC)

Principal Investigator
Paul Cooke

Research bringing near real-time storm forecasts to Africa

African SWIFT (Science for Weather Information and Forecasting Techniques)

https://africanswift.org/
We work on the provision of improved weather predictions around the world, especially in developing countries of the tropics, and especially in Africa. We have been innovating in “nowcasting” (0-6 hour forecasts) for Africa, which can enable people to make critical decisions in the last hours before a hazard occurs.

Partner Organisations
African Centre of Meteorological Applications for Development (ACMAD), Agence Nationale de l’Aviation Civile et de la Meteorologie (ANACIM), Cheikh Anta Diop University (UCAD) of Dakar (Senegal), Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) (Nigeria), Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMet), Intergovernmental Authority on Development Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC), Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD), Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) (Ghana), Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), University of Nairobi (Kenya)

Principal Investigator
Alan Blyth

Food Systems Research Network in Africa

FSNet Africa: Supporting food systems research and evidence into implementable policy solutions and practical interventions

https://fsnetafrica.com/
Food Systems Research Network for Africa (FSNet-Africa) is a research excellence project funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) under the partnership between UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA). We seek to strengthen researchers' capacities to conduct food systems research and translate evidence into implementable policy solutions and practical interventions to support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) targets for Africa. 20 early career fellows, from 11 universities across 6 countries in Africa have participated in a 2-year structured research fellowship. The fellowship enabled research fellows to conduct context-relevant, interdisciplinary, systems analysis research to identify food systems solutions for Africa. Research was designed and implemented in partnership with relevant food systems stakeholders and mentored by senior researchers from across the continent and at the University of Leeds. The fellowships have allowed fellows to build lasting research networks and develop their skills to translate their research impactfully. The three lead partners in the project are the University of Pretoria, the University of Leeds, and FANRPAN (Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network: www.fanrpan.org). The lead partners were selected based on their specific strengths in food systems research and their current partnerships and networks with higher education and research institutions, policymakers, private sector stakeholders, and grassroots organisations.

Partner Organisations
University of Pretoria (SA), The Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) (Pan-African), University of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) (Ghana), University of Nairobi (Kenya),
Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Malawi), The Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST), The Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET) (Malawi), Sokoine University of Agriculture (Tanzania), University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Economic and Social Research Foundation (Tanzania), University of the Western Cape (SA), National Agricultural Marketing Council (SA), University of Zambia, Agricultural Consultative Forum (Zambia)

Principal Investigator
Frans Swanepoel (University of Pretoria)
Co-Investigator
Claire Quinn

Giving smallholder farmers​ a stronger voice through collaborative research

Giving smallholder farmers​ a stronger voice through collaborative research

Our project aimed to build an equitable research partnership between the University of Leeds, partner universities in Ghana and Tanzania and a small farmers' organisation in these countries to support the development of research that meets the needs of the farmers. We did this through training workshops focused on systems thinking and research methods for early career researchers and activists, giving participants the tools to understand 'big picture' problems. Some participants then undertook pilot research projects developed in partnership with the farmers organisations the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana – PFAG) and in Tanzania (Mtandao wa Vikundi vya Wakulima Tanzania – Network of Peasants Groups Tanzania). The idea was to provide training to early career researchers and farmers groups to help them work more closely together; to identify research questions, co-design the research, collect and analyse data and use the findings to influence policy. We also fostered networking between the researchers and farmers organisations to embed this learning and the sustain relationships that we had built.

Partner Organisations
In Ghana, the project brought together academics from the University of Cape Coast, University of Development Studies and the University of Ghana and representatives of the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG). In Tanzania, the network partners came from the University Dar es Salaam, Sokoine University of Agriculture and the National Network of Small-Scale Farmers Groups in Tanzania (MVIWATA).

Principle Investigator
Anne Tallontire

Connecting Data Scientists in Africa to strengthen knowledge sharing and networks

Connecting Data Scientists in Africa to strengthen knowledge sharing and networks

Leeds-Africa Hub for Data Science & Artificial Intelligence

https://leeds-africa-hub.github.io/

The aim of the Leeds Africa Hub is to promote and enable collaboration between the University of Leeds and researchers across the African continent working in any areas that utilise data science, machine learning or artificial intelligence (AI). A continued drive to advance skills and education in data science across Africa has many benefits, but will be particularly relevant in helping to reduce global inequality and spur economic growth.

Partner Organisations
African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), University of the Western Cape, University of Pretoria, Imo State University (IMSU), Nigeria, Kingsley Ozumba Mbadiwe University (KOMU), Nigeria

Principle Investigators
John Ilee, Richard Mann

Biomedical Engineering and Med Tech in Sub-Saharan Africa

Empowering Africa to develop local medical Biomedical Engineering and Med Tech in Sub-Saharan Africa

Project website
The primary focus of this project is the facilitation of the supply of medical devices and medical equipment appropriate to the healthcare needs of the populations of East and West Africa. We also want to understand the impact the supply of biomedical engineers at diploma, graduate and postgraduate levels has on the quality and suitability of this provision. This project and its follow-on activities have the potential to have a significant impact on government policies for medical equipment procurement and training of engineers to design, develop, manufacture and service locally-produced MedTech products.

Partner Organisations
University of Ghana, Makerere University (Uganda), University of Cape Town (South Africa)

Principle Investigator
Mike Raxworthy

Turning organic waste into clean hydrogen fuel in Low and Middle-Income Countries

Green hydrogen production from regional resources in Low and Middle-Income Countries

Project website

Our project “Green hydrogen production from regional resources in Low and Middle-Income Countries” was aimed at exploring opportunities to recover hydrogen from locally available organic waste resources in Uganda and Brazil as case studies for Low and Middle-Income Countries (LMIC). Hydrogen is a clean fuel that can help to meet global (including Africa) clean energy and net-zero emissions demand. Interestingly, hydrogen can be recovered from a wide range of resources including organic wastes. Hydrogen can effectively be transformed into any form of energy for diverse end-use applications, such as the transport, power, industry and buildings sectors, hence, contributing to energy security goals in diverse sectors.

In most African countries, organic waste makes up over 50% of municipal solid waste (MSW). Moreover, the most common disposal/management methods in the region are deposition in open dumps (or landfills) and burning. These systems are often associated with air pollution and the release of greenhouse gases (GHG). For example in Uganda (where 80% of the Green Hydrogen project activities were focused), organic solid waste management is a challenge in most of the cities and developing towns as a result of rapid urbanization and population growth. Consequently, MSW management systems are placed under increasing strain and often unable to effectively manage the build-up of urban solid waste amounts. The collection rate of the generated MSW in towns/cities is about 40 to 60%, leaving a lot uncollected with a high risk to public health and environmental pollution.

Recovering hydrogen from organic waste at local levels could reduce production costs and increase access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all (SDG7), while simultaneously improving the health and well-being of the people, especially women and children (SDG3).

Partner Organisations
Makerere University

Principle Investigator
Cynthia Okoro-Shekwaga

Evaluating sustainable training approaches to support better access to surgery in Sub-Saharan Africa

 

In this project Leeds researchers worked closely with academic and surgical colleagues in Uganda and Kenya to pave the way for the use of a low-cost medical technology devices for keyhole surgeries to be performed more affordably in more hard-to-reach places.

Principal Investigator
Peter Culmer