× Search
Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Environmental Management in the Oil Sector and ConDev (EMCO). Grants for Research on Environmental Management and Conflict

Uganda: Environmental Management in the Oil Sector and ConDev (EMCO) Grants

Texas A&M University Soil and Crop Science Department was a sub-contractor to Tetra Tech for implementation of the USAID Environmental Management in the Oil Sector (EMOS) project in Uganda. Three Ugandan Universities were partners in the project: Kyambogo University, Makerere University, and Mbarra University of Science and Technology. ConDev assisted in managing the TAMU part of the project. Well into the project, participating Ugandan faculty requested that they be better supported to conduct research relevant to the project goals. USAID/EMOS project managers agreed to a plan suggested by ConDev that the two organizations jointly support Ugandan faculty research. The Transformative Solutions model RFA was adapted to the goals of the EMOS project. Three competitive awards were made by ConDev, described below. 

Competitive Awards

Insecurity in War Affected Areas in Uganda:

A Study Case of Teso Region

Innovation: The purpose of the study was to identify indigenous strategies used in production to respond to food insecurity resulting from civil war-inspired conflicts in the Teso region, and improve upon those practices, and evaluate how those practices can contribute more widely in society. 

Key Learning: While indigenous technologies and strategies were found to predominate in the Teso Region, there was a need and opportunity to integrate modern practices into traditional food production systems. 

An ethnographic research design was adopted where qualitative and quantitative data was collected from a random sample of 200 respondents, plus 22 purposely selected informants. The data sources included: questionnaire, interviews, and focus, group discussions. A translator of Ateso Language was used when necessary. Indigenous knowledge dominates in managing soil fertility, pests and diseases management, harvesting and storage as well as animal husbandry. Indigenous knowledge practices needs to integrate into the modern strategies to use to cope with food insecurity. The study suggests that there is need to strengthen awareness among extension workers of indigenous knowledge, and integrate it with modern technology. Farmers need encouragement to appreciate their local knowledge and how it can enhance food security and cope with food scarcity.

Authored by: Sultan Juma Kakuba and Johan Mary Kanyamurwa 

Institution: Kyambogo University, Kampala, Uganda

Improving Opportunities For Youth Access To Employment In The Oil And Gas Industry In Uganda: A Case Study Of Buliisa And Hoima Districts

Innovation: Improvement of opportunities for youth employment in the oil and gas Industry in Uganda, particularly the youths from the Albertine Region in Western Uganda, through targeted vocational and technical training and the promotion of local enterprise to supply the workforce and service needs of the oil sector. 

Key Learning: Private oil and gas sector companies can be mobilized to help improve vocational and technical training to better fit youth into the roles needed by the industry. 

The project was guided by the following specific objectives: (1) Identify training needs for oil and gas industry in Uganda; (2) Assess the quality of Vocational Education Training in the Albertine Region; (3) Develop oil and gas education Training Modules; and, (4) Create networks between education providers, international oil companies (IOCs), employers and the Ministry of Education for the purpose of improving the quality of training in oil and gas education. The study collected, reviewed and analyzed qualitative and quantitative information and data from both secondary and primary sources. A total of 8 training institutions participated in the study, along with three international oil companies, Tullow Oil plc; Total Exploration and Production; and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC). Specific revisions in curriculum at vocations and technical institutes were recommended for closing the large gaps in knowledge and skills needed by the industry.

Authored by: Charles Twesigye, William Epeju, Titus Watmon Bitek, Rosemary Nalwanga, Bakia Wamala Kezaala, Sammy Olal, Martin Baluku, and Joseph Katswera

Institution: Kyambogo University, Kampala, Uganda 

Natural Resource Management in the Northern Albertine Rift Landscape, Western Uganda: Agent–based Modeling of Household Land Utilization for Conflict Reduction

Innovation: Application of agent-based modeling of land use decision-making to build understanding of impact of extractive industries on land use and mitigate conflict over land use.

Key Learning: 

The discovery of oil in the Albertine Rift Landscape has increased pressure on natural resources and heightened the potential for resource use conflicts. Central to these natural resource use pressures are competing interests over land for agriculture, settlement and industrial development. This undermines people’s livelihoods, and threatens biodiversity conservation. In this project, the aim (embedded in the theory of change) is twofold: firstly, to increase our understanding of land utilization patterns and related decision-making through agent-based modeling, in order to fill knowledge gaps regarding how the negative effects of the extractive industries can be reduced. Secondly, to contribute to conflict mitigation over land utilization and access through solutions simultaneously generated through agent-based modeling. The project will employ mixed approaches including: remote sensing, social surveys, and multi-level computer-based simulation, culminating in the construction of the first (proof-of-concept) agent-based model of the landscape. The modeling process, including conceptualization, generation of model runs, and use of results will be undertaken in a participatory manner with local communities. This will enhance transparency of the model and inform decision making, for policy formulation and conflict management. 

Authored by: Ronald Twongyirwe and Eleanor Fisher

Institution: Department of Environment and Livelihood Support Systems, Institute of Interdisciplinary Training and Research, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Mbarara, Uganda

Conflict through the Lens of Student Journalists

Blog by Johanna Roman
Student Media Grant Manager, The Center on Conflict and Development (ConDev) at Texas A&M University

Travel and photography go hand in hand. For many students who dream of visiting foreign lands to capture amazing moments with their lenses, the opportunity to win a travel grant to move their photography skills forward is very appealing. Students competing for the Center on Conflict and Development’s Student Media Grant are not necessarily wanting to photograph beautiful scenery or take portraits of people smiling. They do not want to document moments of happiness. They want to capture the effects of conflict on places and people.

Since 2013, ConDev’s Student Media Grant Program has served as a launch pad for aspiring young photojournalists to explore different corners of the world that have been affected by conflict issues. ConDev has funded a wide variety of projects. Young students from around the world have completed programs focusing on topics like the injustices of food insecurity; the devastating effects of war; the hardships of migration, and other critical issues affecting fragile communities in the developing world.

Photo by Ruth Matamoros, SMGP Grantee

Photo by Ruth Matamoros, SMGP Grantee

As a practitioner of international development who grew up in a small country in Central America affected by over three decades of civil war, I know that it takes a special kind of person to have the sensitivity needed to witness and moreover, take pictures of other people’s sufferings. It takes courage to capture the devastation and hardships of the aftermath of insurgency or war through a lens. Young students must be brave to be able to chronicle critical issues that global communities are facing such as the migration or refugee crisis; political and domestic violence; and so many other types of problems stemming from conflict. I think it even takes more courage to set the camera aside and listen to peoples’ stories. 

The Student Media Grant Program offers grants for student photojournalists to cover difficult topics in conflict-affected countries through compelling photo stories. As the SMGP Program Manager, my favorite part of this experience is when students return from completing their projects and submit their work. I am amazed by their ability to capture the world as it really is. Their cameras might be focusing on a particular person or scene, but their eyes are scanning what really is happening before and after and their minds take mental images of those moments. Each picture can open discussions about the students’ experience engaging with real-life characters being protagonists of situations that are sometimes very difficult and so very different from their own.

ConDev has funded over thirty SMGP programs, each very unique. Below are some highlights of recent successful projects completed by several students. 


Maryanna Nascimento from Brazil received a Student Media Grant in 2018 to travel to Guatemala to conduct her Photo with Coffee SMGP project. She traveled through this multiethnic and pluricultural country to offer photography workshops for kids.

"In 2018, I received a Student Media Grant from Texas A&M University’s Center on Conflict and Development to develop the project Photo with Coffee: Guatemalan Children telling their Stories. For two months, I conducted analogue photography workshops in schools in vulnerable neighborhoods in Guatemala. Around 35 students, from 7 to 14 years old, were part of the activities. It was the first time that I worked with participatory photography. The experience made me understand the career path I wanted to follow. Consequently, I applied for a master's degree in Media and International Development at the University of East Anglia. During my course, I gained knowledge to analyze more critically the work that I conducted in Guatemala. For my dissertation, I decided to reflect on this experience based on literature in participatory communication. The dissertation will empirically analyze the practical challenges of participatory communication and the impact on the participants’ lives three years later, giving particular attention to critical awareness and empowerment subjects. The Student Media Grant was the first step I gave to a career path that I didn't even know could be named and was waiting for me."

Jorge Choy from the University of Texas at Austin completed his project in the Southern border in Mexico. His lens captured images of migrants crossing the river into Mexico, and he was able to learn about the struggles that migrants face and their desire for a better life as they escape from high poverty rates and violence. Jorge produced award-winning photos that provide a glimpse into the migration crisis.  



“The Student Media Grant from the Center for Conflict and Development at Texas A&M University funded my photo essay. This funding allowed me to capture some stories amid the increasing restriction in the Central American - US migratory corridor. Since policies and practices have exacerbated vulnerabilities of migrants as they journey north, these photographs help to understand some of the many faces and stories that transit and reside in this part of the Guatemala-Mexico border.”


Alexis Aubin from University of Montreal, documented the impact of landmines on survivor's from the Colombian war. Through his pictures he raised awareness about the collateral damages and long-term effect of war in Colombia.

“Landmines are different from every other weapon. They are not made to kill but to mutilate, to dismember, to generate fear... They are the only weapons activated by the victim. A Wounded Land explored the landmine issue in Colombia and how it affected the local populations and their relationship with the land. When we think about war we usually think about the fronts, but wars are much more complex and affect people in many ways and for many generations after the cessation of hostilities.”

Those are just a few examples of the good work produced by young photojournalists. We are hoping to inspire more students to apply for this grant program.

Our Student Media Grant Program's application period opens each September. This year we want to particularly encourage students from universities within the Texas A&M System to apply. After these past months of confinement and travel restrictions, we cannot wait to support their dreams of visiting foreign lands and make a difference through the art of photography. 

Need inspiration? Visit our SMGP section to read about all the wonderful projects that have been completed through the years.

This photojournalism grant is funded by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation Chair on Conflict and Development.

For more information about the SMGP, please visit:




This website is made possible by the support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development. The contents are the sole responsibility of ConDev, and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.





Terms Of UsePrivacy StatementCopyright 2021 by Center on Conflict & Development at Texas A&M University
Back To Top