Rwenzori International University

rwenzori International university

A new “first” for Kasese!

In Uganda, university-level education started 100 years ago when Makerere University was established in 1922. Today 60 universities operate in Uganda, yet none serve the area around the Rwenzori Mountains where over one million Bakonzo live…until today. In June 2022, Rwenzori International University was granted the first university license in the Bakonzo territory!

There is a good reason for this new development. In Kasese District over 50% of the people are extremely poor. This adds to a heavy malnutrition burden; one out of two children are stunted. Universities are catalysts of development with a profound multiplier effect on the host community.

Well-funded and resourced universities have a tremendous social and economic impact on the community. As hotbeds of innovations and entrepreneurship, universities are economic engines.

Beginning August 8, 2022, the new University will offer:

Degree programs

  • Bachelor of Science in Agribusiness and Agricultural Economics
  • Bachelor of Agriculture Extension and Community Development
  • Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting
  • Bachelor of Primary Education
  • Bachelor of Social Work and Administration

Diploma programs

  • Information Technology
  • Tourism and Hospitality
  • Early Childhood Development
  • Primary Education

…and a number of certificate courses.

As members of the Board of Trustees, GlobalRise is excited because the University provides a workforce development component for the Rwenzori Food System. This includes training in drone aviation, digital health, ICT and more.

Congratulations to Dr. Walemba and the fine academic team in Kasese! We are looking forward to working with you – “together we will!”

Digital Health Week in the Mountain Jungles

digital health week in mountain jungles

One of the most exciting things about non-profits is working with people who share a similar heart-felt cause. Discussions become so dynamic and meaningful! This is what happened when we started to bring in groups from HIMSS…and then BMS and others.

But what does “digital health” have to do with “digital food systems”? What does it have to do with better nutrition?

At the very foundation of health is good nutrition. Without it, we see health conditions that can take life away from kids. Acute and chronic malnutrition is a health condition. These conditions can be managed with digital health tools. In fact, we see the application of digital health in the mountain jungles as a cornerstone for healthy transformation of malnourished kids.

So when GlobalRise presented the keynote at HIMSS22’s Global Health Equity Symposium and met the VP of Digital Health at Bristol Meyers Squibbs, we got pretty excited! BMS is looking at global health equity, digital health and projects that can help to drive discovery in this emerging arena. Our conversations lead to the convergence of activity between HIMSS Institute, BMS and GlobalRise in a powerful way! In fact, it lead to scoping of a new Digital Health Week with participation by HIMSS, BMS and GlobalRise in Kasese, Uganda, during our Mission2022.

With HIMSS and BMS, we are conducting consultations with three hospitals in areas of low resources, like Kasese, as well as a unique surgical hospital, supported by Mt Sinai Medical Center in NYC, that offers oncology services and more. As part of this we are consulting with Kisoro District Hospital, a project of Montifore Medical Center. We are also reviewing medical initiatives at Rwenzori International University, Bugema University and Makarere University in the Kampala area.

As we learn, we will make better decisions about how to position our multi-thematic Digital Food System to sustainably lift hundreds of thousands out of disease and poverty in southwestern Uganda…and beyond!


Check Out Our Other Recent Blogs:

  • Rwenzori International University
    Sixty universities operate in Uganda, yet none serve the Rwenzori Mountains where over one million Bakonzo live…until today.
  • Digital Health Week in the Mountain Jungles
    What does “digital health” have to do with “digital food systems”? What does it have to do with better nutrition?
  • Farm-to-Plate Protocol
    In 2016 an idea sprouted at a strategy meeting in India…orphanages struggle with professional nutrition examination of their children. This is because of…
  • Drones or Donkeys?
    In what could be one of the most significant failures to improve the life of mountainous small holder farmers in Kasese, the use of donkeys was recommended to help farmers move their crops down to formal markets. Why donkeys?
  • Twiga’s Crusade to “Kick Stunting Out of Kasese!”
    Prior to the pandemic, GlobalRise started a multi-year campaign to help the people of Kasese to eliminate stunting. Prior research indicates that this area has a 50% stunting rate – one out of every two kids. As a World Vision executive says, this is “an abomination”.

Farm-to-Plate Protocol

farm to plate protocol

In 2016 an idea sprouted at a strategy meeting in India…orphanages struggle with professional nutrition examination of their children. This is because of multiple competing priorities coupled with how incredibly hard it is to develop sustainable giving programs…clothes, shoes, shelter, food, healthcare, education and the list goes on. With so little in annual income, how is it even possible to bring in a nutritionist?

We asked a number of orphanage owners and found the need is great. Orphanages usually start with a person’s heart connection for helping kids. Friends and family funding kicks off the new program but it can only go so far. The founder may not have formal training or may have expertise in some but not all of the areas that underly orphanage management. The venture takes root and then what follows is an annual struggle for funds.

farm to plate protocol orphanage

Thus in 2017, GlobalRise was started with the idea that we can help.

Farm-to-Plate Protocol was developed for orphanage management to bring good nutrition into their residential homes or orphanages. It takes a broad, community perspective including local infrastructure, sanitation, food availability via local farming and much more – and then boils that down to how to create a nutrient-rich food systems environment at the orphanage level.

Materials were created with the orphan and orphanage needs in mind. For example, a graphically-oriented hand washing poster was created that can help keep the importance of this activity in mind. A skills assessment program for kitchen staff was created that can be used to help in hiring chefs that can help kids eat better…and much more.

The program was first implemented at Christalis Home in Kasese, Uganda, by a professional nutritionist and an agronomist/public health expert. Their existing food system was evaluated including food preparation and storage, the kitchen, washing of utensils and more. As you can see from the photos we took time to remove smoke from the kitchen. As soon as we walked in we were crying! This involved an infrastructure project developed by a local engineer.

We also took a hard look at the food budget. We wanted to make sure that the nutrient requirements of the orphanage population were being met with food purchases. Of course this also included a thorough review of food preparations and diet preferences. As we reviewed the food budget it became necessary to visit the farmer’s market, document and track food prices, food types during different seasons and so forth. All of this, the work of the nutritionist, is required to finally build a nutritious weekly menu. The menu drives food purchases, preparations and services for the children.

farm to plate protocol kasese

Farming is also part of this analysis. If the orphanage has land, raising crops can help to reduce operating costs attributable to food. Our agronomist went to work on this part of the equation, reviewing the existing farm, its capacity (both in terms of arable land, local and reliable talent that could be hired, build out costs and more). In the final analysis at Christalis Home, we opted for changing the food budget versus supporting the cost to build a new farm. Some items are sourced from the farm even today from this effort but because the Kasese farmer’s market is so robust and active, we found that food availability and costs were quite favorable.

Today, we visit the orphanage once a year to maintain our farm-to-plate protocol. Much of the initial changes are now operationalized. We offer help with the nutritional aspect of baby onboarding (initial assessment), reviewing baby formulas and, with the help of a pediatrician on our advisory board, providing clinical observations. Use of digital health records provided by PocketPatientMD helps with continuity of care for the precious kids.

Finally, whenever we want to implement a change we create what we call “funded recommendations” for orphanage management and/or board-level review. Approval of the recommendations by management then leads to implementation to transform the orphanage food system. Our donors fund the recommendations thus removing this burden.

farm to plate protocol Rwenzori

Unfortunately GlobalRise is not able to help every orphanage that reaches out to us. We have an overriding vision – Digital Food Systems – that drives the location of our work. This is because we believe that we can help the greatest number of kids by implementing digital food systems. Our work at the orphanage level is symbiotic and helps us to leap frog learnings of the local food system dynamics. This helps us to understand how to position our technology and expertise to raise the level of nutrition in areas of high stunting.

Today we are targeting Subsaharan Africa, India and Guatemala. This is because these areas have high stunting zones. Subsaharan Africa is the only region in the world where the stunting rate is increasing. India hosts the most stunted children on the planet. And Guatemala – its western highlands like Heuhuetenango – has one of the highest rates of stunting with 70% being recorded by USAID.

Our journey is just beginning…but we need your help!

Consider becoming a nutri-ambassador with GlobalRise and joining us as we build A World of Healthy Kids!

Join us!


Check Out Our Other Recent Blogs:

  • Rwenzori International University
    Sixty universities operate in Uganda, yet none serve the Rwenzori Mountains where over one million Bakonzo live…until today.
  • Digital Health Week in the Mountain Jungles
    What does “digital health” have to do with “digital food systems”? What does it have to do with better nutrition?
  • Farm-to-Plate Protocol
    In 2016 an idea sprouted at a strategy meeting in India…orphanages struggle with professional nutrition examination of their children. This is because of…
  • Drones or Donkeys?
    In what could be one of the most significant failures to improve the life of mountainous small holder farmers in Kasese, the use of donkeys was recommended to help farmers move their crops down to formal markets. Why donkeys?
  • Twiga’s Crusade to “Kick Stunting Out of Kasese!”
    Prior to the pandemic, GlobalRise started a multi-year campaign to help the people of Kasese to eliminate stunting. Prior research indicates that this area has a 50% stunting rate – one out of every two kids. As a World Vision executive says, this is “an abomination”.

Drones or Donkeys?

drones or donkeys

In what could be one of the most significant failures to improve the life of mountainous small holder farmers in Kasese, the use of donkeys was recommended to help farmers move their crops down to formal markets.

Why donkeys?

Today, most of the small holders in the mountains are women. They walk down the mountains with their crops for 3-5 hours, baby on back, to sell whatever they can carry. This is one key reason why mountainous families, over 150,000 households, are locked into poverty today.

The researchers asked: why not send in donkeys? It makes a lot of sense. (By the way, finding this research was hard. It may not get much publicity because the project failed. But with this failure we may find foundational concepts that can ultimately succeed.)

Candidly, we never knew this project existed when we were granted a visit to the Mayor’s office. “Mayor,” we pleaded, “we think a fundamental development issue in the mountains is nutrition and to address this means somehow improving household income.” If you look at the research, improving nutrition and income always go hand in hand. In other words, a nutrition program is typically unsustainable if incomes aren’t improved.

The Mayor agreed. After convening two strategic meetings, his office concluded that steep terrain is one of the deep issues that is blocking socioeconomic development in the mountains. He was aware of the donkey project. “They ended up eating them for food,” he said. The project failed. The people are hungry.

When that failed the group met again and determined that it might be possible to implement “trams” at various points in the Rwenzori mountain range, however, this proposal is very expensive, ecologically insensitive and was off to a slow start. So when we mentioned using drones, the Mayor was intrigued. We explained the platform and our early ideas of how this could work.

Drones…Not Donkeys!

Today we are working with a group of social visionaries to develop a cargo drone platform, linked to mobile payments, that mountain small holders can use. Its sort of like an “uber in the sky” on a “pay as you go” basis. Before onboarding the platform, mountain small holders must go to Village Trainings in nutrition, soil fertility and financial planning…so the link between better income and nutrition improvement is sealed.

GlobalRise is building a Digital Food System that will deploy cargo drones for food, medicine, soil inputs and more. We are also implementing digital health tools that can monitor the journey of children in the mountains from stunted to healthy!

The “system of systems” will be proven and we hope that it will eventually be handed off to the government via a PPP (public private partnership) and scaled. This will require workforce development in UAV aviation, digital health, food and information technology and much more!

To enable this, one of the GlobalRise team is a board member of Rwenzori International University in Kasese, helping them to create a Tech Innovation Center for student training.

Click here to learn more about our program: https://www.globalrise.org/projects/community-to-country/


Check Out Our Other Recent Blogs:

  • Rwenzori International University
    Sixty universities operate in Uganda, yet none serve the Rwenzori Mountains where over one million Bakonzo live…until today.
  • Digital Health Week in the Mountain Jungles
    What does “digital health” have to do with “digital food systems”? What does it have to do with better nutrition?
  • Farm-to-Plate Protocol
    In 2016 an idea sprouted at a strategy meeting in India…orphanages struggle with professional nutrition examination of their children. This is because of…
  • Drones or Donkeys?
    In what could be one of the most significant failures to improve the life of mountainous small holder farmers in Kasese, the use of donkeys was recommended to help farmers move their crops down to formal markets. Why donkeys?
  • Twiga’s Crusade to “Kick Stunting Out of Kasese!”
    Prior to the pandemic, GlobalRise started a multi-year campaign to help the people of Kasese to eliminate stunting. Prior research indicates that this area has a 50% stunting rate – one out of every two kids. As a World Vision executive says, this is “an abomination”.