At the beginning of February 2018, a series of outreach activities were undertaken in the framework of the VLIR-UOS South Initiative ‘Enhancing community-based natural resources and hazard management in Rwenzori Mountains’. The objectives of these activities were to publicize the results of the research conducted since 2014 on natural hazards in the Rwenzori, as well as discuss and generate support from national and local policy-makers and local community representatives for practical disaster risk reduction strategies.
Firstly, a one-day international conference, entitled ‘Disaster risk reduction fair: Examples from landslides and storms in Central Africa’, was organized on Tuesday, the 6th of February, 2018 at Hotel Royal Suites in Kampala. Around 120 participants attended the conference, including national policy-makers (Ministry of Health, NEMA, …), representatives from international organizations (UNDP, FAO, IITA, WFP), non-governmental organizations (OXFAM, DENIVA, CARE, USAID, World Vision, Red Cross), the media and scientists from several Ugandan (Makerere University, Mountains of the Moon University and Busitema University) and international universities (Cameroon, VUB, ULg, KUL). Scientists from the different universities presented practical outcomes of their research whereby participants could directly interact, test out methodologies, and propose their own contributions and opinions.
Secondly, on 7 February, an academic event on Landslide Risk Research was organised at Mountains of the Moon University whereby sixty students and staff members of this university, as well as representatives of the Kabarole District authorities and some sub-counties of the district participated. The outcome of the research on landslide hazard, its impacts on farmers’ livelihood and the disaster risk reduction strategies were presented and discussed with the audience.
Thirdly, two multi-stakeholders’ Workshops on landslide risk reduction were organised in Kasese, Bundibugyo districts, on 8 and 9 February. These events gathered district authorities, environmental officers and LOC3 of sub-counties, geo-observers and representatives of the civil societies (farmer organisation, red cross, emergency services) in Kasese and Bundibugyo districts. Each workshop attracted about 50 attendees, including scientists from MMU and its Belgian partners. Participants received policy briefs summarizing the science-based recommendations for landslide disaster risk reduction. A total of 600 educational posters, provided in English and 3 local languages (Rutooro, Lhubwisi, Lhukonzo), were distributed to be displayed in public spaces to raise awareness about landslide risk reduction in the Rwenzori Mountains. The presentation of the research findings and the new geo-observer network generated great interest from the district and local stakeholders.
The organisation of these events benefited from the support of the Uganda National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Belgium Embassy in Uganda, the Environmental Officers of Kasese, Kabarole and Bundibugyo districts, as well as academic partners from Mountains of the Moon University and Makerere University. Financial support was provided by the VUB Global Mind program, the BELSPO Brain.be programme and the VLIR-UOS HEFS Research Platform.