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MAK FORMS ENFORCEMENT COMMITTEE AS RESEARCH GRANTS RECIPIENTS STRUGGLE TO ACCOUNT

By Mulengera Reporters

Makerere University (MAK) has set up a new committee to foresee how money received through grants is used by researchers following incidents where the university has been forced to refund donor money.

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Speaking at the induction event of the new committee which is headed by Professor Grace Bantebya Kyomuhendo, Makerere University Vice-Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe said that even when the institution receives chunks of money to enable research they haven’t had a system for tracking whether the money is put to its intended use.

Although he couldn’t reveal details, Nawangwe said they recently had to refund more than USD 30,000 to a donor after a researcher failed to account.

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Nawangwe says that more than 60 per cent of their research funds go to the school of public health but with time, he says, they will start allocating money to students who have bright ideas which they abandon immediately after graduation due to financial inability to carry them forward.

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Bantebya says that for now, the new Makerere University-Grants Administration and Management Unit Steering Committee, will start its mandate with mapping and identifying whoever has an active grant to establish if they are on track, accounting for the funds dispensed to them.

Apart from tracing the allocation of funds, her team’s mandate includes checking whether researchers are conforming to required laws, checking on what the resources are being used for in addition to offering training sessions to researchers on various aspects including dissemination of their findings to ensure that the studies are translated into innovations that are usable.

Prof.  Rhoda Wanyenze, the Dean of the School of public health which is the biggest recipient of the money, said that they already set up their own grants management unit in 2021 and have staffed it with 13 officials to ensure that money isn’t diverted.  But even with the unit established, there are often concerns of consistency and suspicions of corruption, she says.

However, while it’s unclear how much the University gets in external grants, the government has since 2019 been giving them Shs30billion annually under the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (MAK- RIF).

Nawangwe says even under MAK- RIF, they are still struggling to recover money from researchers that can’t properly account. Up to 700 projects have been funded including continuous ones under this arrangement–URN. (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994 [whatsapp line], 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us atmulengera2040@gmail.com).

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