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It is the mission of the Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods and ISU‐UP to use the power of education to develop sustainable communities and responsible global citizens. We accomplish our mission by focusing on education and capacity building as the core of sustainable human development. Education is central to every CSRL program and spans all age groups.

Education Venn DiagramService Learning

Living and working together, students from Iowa State University and Makerere University serve while learning what it takes to be change agents in the developing world. With the center’s guidance, students work on development projects in agriculture, environment, irrigation, sanitation and other areas, learn meaningful life lessons, and acquire intercultural knowledge and competence. The program provides both university students and pupils from primary school opportunities to learn through hands-on experiences.  Experiential learning is the main approach of service learning, with participants "learning by doing" at the same time providing a service to the community through the schools with both in equal balance (service + learning).

School Gardens

Undergraduate students from Iowa State University and Makerere University and center staff work alongside primary school children to maintain on-site school gardens and care for poultry. While children learn specialized skills in agriculture and livestock management, the gardens and livestock supply ingredients for the school lunch program. The school gardens program helps teach and nourish pupils in five primary and two secondary schools in the Kamuli District. The gardens furnish produce for school lunches, varying in frequency from one to five days a week. Poultry programs are also offered at two of the primary schools

Workshops and training programs for adults

Agronomy, land use, post-harvest handling, animal husbandry, nutrition, sanitation, and crafts are a few of the subjects that ISU-UP field specialists bring to the people of Kamuli District. Working side-by-side with Kamuli District residents, we discover and implement sustainable solutions to meet the community’s most urgent needs.

Some of the approaches we utilize include:

  • Administer summer service-learning programs that bring together Iowa State University and Makerere students in bi-national teams who collaborate on research projects and also assist in teaching integrated science subjects and math at primary schools.
  • Administer semester-long service learning programs for ISU students
  • Administer service-learning internship programs for both ISU and Makerere University students
  • Provide opportunities for students to collaborate on solutions that change communities
  • Create and maintain school gardens and poultry as outdoor laboratories for pupils
  • Provide instruction and projects, benefiting the community and the school lunch program
  • Promote home-based garden enterprises for pupils to facilitate knowledge transfer to their homes and surrounding communities and increase nutritional food security
  • Promote use of small plots of land allocated by parents for children to raise crops to support their scholastic materials and school needs
  • Facilitate extra instruction to help pupils improve national test scores and enrollment rates
  • Build school partnerships to increase boarding facilities which also increases enrollment and retention through graduation
  • Facilitate establishment of gardens for youth entrepreneurial and ag enterprise development
  • Facilitate an Annual Youth Institute that brings pupils from different schools together with a final event at our Mpirigiti Rural Training Centre
  • Promote research, networking, and discussion groups with pupils and teachers from eight schools

Continuing goals include:

  • Improve access to quality education at all stages of the lifecycle
  • Improve learning and education of primary and secondary school pupils
  • Expand use of school gardens to motivate and empower pupils for knowledge transfer and life skills
  • Expand consumption of nutrient dense mid-day meals for primary school children
  • Enhance university student and faculty learning and participation in ISU-UP programs
  • Increase collaboration among partnership schools
  • Expand classrooms, latrine, kitchen, water, and teacher housing at schools
  • Increase access to a wide range of educational programs at the Mpirigiti Rural Training Centre
  • Increase school attendance and graduation rates
  • Increase mentoring opportunities at all stages
  • Develop best practices publications in both English and Lusoga languages

ISU grad students from Uganda strive to make a difference back home

Four ISU graduate students from Uganda are continuing their journey of discovery made possible by ISU-UP and supportive donors. All four participated in the CSRL Service Learning School Garden Program as undergraduate students at Makerere University, learning alongside primary school children about caring for the gardens and poultry that provide ingredients for the school lunch program.

As graduate students, these four are engaged in studies that will prepare them for careers in food and agricultural and related sciences, ultimately benefiting Uganda through improved nutrition, a reduction in hunger, safer food handling practices, and better technical recommendations to help farmers sustainably manage their land.

Francis AkitwineFrancis Akitwine is a soil science major in the master’s program. His support comes from Jim and Marcia Borel through the Borel Global Fellows Program. His research project focuses on soil testing and mapping. Using novel laboratory methods to analyze soil samples, he is trying to identify specific properties of soils in the Kamuli area that limit plant growth and diminish potential agricultural uses of the land. A better understanding of soil properties and locations—based on creating a soil map of select locations in Kamuli—can inform decisions about appropriate management strategies to improve crop production, soil, and water conservation strategies.

Shillah KwikiirizaShillah Kwikiiriza is a horticulture major in the master’s program. Part of her support comes from Jim and Marcia Borel through the Borel Global Fellows Program. Through her research, she hopes to improve the production and marketing of squash by smallholder youth farmers in the Kamuli District. Locally known as pumpkins, squashes could improve nutritional dietary intake and create farm income, but their availability is limited by low yields and a lack of good management practices. Her study will assess the feasibility of soil mulching and available traditional and improved cultivars, and market accessibility by the smallholder youth farmers of Kamuli.

Lillian NabwiireLillian Nabwiire is a food science major in the PhD program, with a double master’s degree from ISU in horticulture and food science technology. Her master’s research examined ways to improve food safety by fruit and vegetable growers and handlers in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Her support comes from Dana and Martha Robes. Her PhD research is trying to identify opportunities to increase safe handling of food and ultimately improve public health. She is studying food handling practices used at butcher shops in Kamuli and by consumers in the U.S. Virgin Islands when shopping, storing, preparing, and cooking beef at home.

Becky WokibulaBecky Wokibula is a soil science major in the PhD program, with a master’s degree from ISU in agronomy. Her support comes from the Michael Couch Soil Science International Graduate Student Scholarship. Her PhD studies involve developing better fertilization and cropping approaches for the various soils and farmers in the Kamuli District, to increase conservation and sustainability of the soil. Part of this work includes identifying sources of ag lime—or ground up limestone, which is a soil amendment—and fertilizers in Uganda. She is also collaborating with fellow graduate student Francis Akitwine on soil mapping.

To make a gift to the Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods, please click here to go directly to the ISU Foundation, or contact Sarah Roelfs at (515) 294-1031 or