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DR CHARLES NIWAGABA: HOW HE ROSE TO GLOBAL FAME

Dr Charles Niwagaba

BY RICHARD DRASIMAKU

ARUA: WEDNESDAY, MAY 18, 2022

Dr Charles Niwagaba, Makere University’s second-best scientist and Uganda’s overall third is not new to winning awards and recognition.

From a village in Kabale, Western Uganda, his rise through the academic ranks has been glittery.

He joined Kigezi College Butobere in 1989 for Secondary education, completing O’ level in 1992 with an aggregate 11 first grade pass and A’ level in 1995 scoring A in Physics, A in Mathematics, B in Chemistry and Credit six in General Paper.

That earned him admission to Makerere University to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering under a full government scholarship.

Niwagaba graduated in 1999 with a second class upper degree and secured another scholarship from the Italian cooperation to pursue a Master of Science in Civil Engineering, Majoring in Environmental Engineering at Makerere University.

In the same year, Niwagaba was awarded a prize as the best student in structural steel design by the Uganda Institution of Professional Engineers in a competition financed by the Mulenga Batumbya and Wardrope (MBW) consulting Engineers.

The following year, he began work as a teaching assistant at the department of civil engineering as he pursued the Masters course that he finished in 2002.

From 2003 until 2010, Niwagaba rose to Assistant Lecturer, responsible for preparing lectures, and tutorials and examining third and fourth year Civil Engineering students in Public Health Engineering Practice.

Other duties include supervision of second and third-year Civil Engineering students doing industrial training as well as third and fourth-year students undertaking research projects in Public Health/Environmental Engineering.

He also coordinated the research on ecological sanitation responsible for implementing the Memorandum of Understanding between the Directorate of Water Development (DWD) of the Ugandan Ministry of Water, Lands and Environment and Makerere University’s Faculty of Technology between 2001 and 2004 and was in charge of Industrial Training Placements in the Department of Civil Engineering for 2001/2002, 2002/2003 & 2003/2004 academic years.

While an Assistant Lecturer, Niwagaba in 2004 scooped another scholarship to pursue Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) under the Sida/SAREC bilateral research cooperation program in a sandwich mode between the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Uppsala, Sweden and Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.

Consequently, he got the Licentiate of Philosophy (Ph.Lic) in Environmental Engineering in 2007 and the Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D) in Environmental Technology in 2011.

In 2012, Niwagaba was among the team that was given a special recognition award by the Bill and Melinda Gates (BMG) Foundation at the toilet fair in Seattle (USA), on 15 August 2012 for working on the reinvent the toilet challenge.

This was four months after he became a full lecturer at Makerere University, department of Civil Engineering.

A year later he was promoted to Senior Lecturer and then Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, a position he has held to date.

During his 21 years of research, teaching and consultancy in Civil and Environmental Engineering, Dr Niwagaba has been involved in conducting environmental impact assessments of projects in the water and sanitation sector, hydro-power dams, port infrastructure, roads and faecal sludge management.

He accrued extensive knowledge in development of innovative practices in sanitation improvement (from Engineering, social marketing to financing); solid waste management with emphasis on recycling and re-use such as composting, bio-gas, grey water treatment and use, application of faecal sludge in industrial kilns and boilers and design of faecal sludge treatment plants among others.

Niwagaba also has over 100 publications in peer reviewed journals, conference proceedings, book chapters and policy briefs that his ranking as Makerere University’s second most productive scientist and Uganda’s over all third by the Alper-Doger Scientific Index was the icing on an illustrious academic journey.

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