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Ugandan wins global award for promoting food security

By Pascal Kwesiga

Added 14th November 2019 02:30 PM

Nakalembe received the individual excellence award from the Group on Earth Observation (GEO) at an event held in Australia recently.

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Ruhakana Rugunda, Prime Minister of Uganda (in dark blue) and Musa Ecweru Minister of State for relief, disaster preparedness and refugees (right) presenting a 2019 earth observations for sustainable development goals award to the ministers as Kitutu Mary, Minister of State for Environment (left) Nakalembe Catherine assistant research professor, Maryland University and Hillary Onek, Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees (center) look on at the Office of the president in Kampala on Thursday.( Photo by Jimmy Outa)

Nakalembe received the individual excellence award from the Group on Earth Observation (GEO) at an event held in Australia recently.

Catherine Nakalembe, a Ugandan heading the Eastern African hub for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) – an independent agency of the US government – has received a global award.

Nakalembe, an assistant professor at the research-based University of Maryland in the US, heads the NASA Harvest Eastern Africa hub. Nakalembe received the individual excellence award from the Group on Earth Observation (GEO) at an event held in Australia recently.

The GEO is an intergovernmental partnership of 105 member governments, 127 participating organizations and several individuals and businesses working to improve the availability, access and use of earth observation data for a sustainable planet.

Earth observation processes involve collecting and analyzing information about the physical, chemical, and biological systems of the planet using various technologies such as satellite services. 

It promotes open, coordinated and sustained earth observation data sharing and infrastructure for better research, policymaking, decisions and action across many disciplines. Its work focuses on three global priority engagement areas; UN 2030 agenda for sustainable development, the Paris Agreement and Sendai Framework for disaster risk reduction.

Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda met Nakalembe on Thursday and congratulated her on receiving the international recognition. Nakalembe was introduced to Rugunda and other ministers during their meeting at the Office of the Prime Minister by the state minister for environment, Mary Goretti Kitutu.  

“We congratulate you, Catherine, on receiving this international award and thank you for flying the Ugandan flag,” Rugunda said.

Nakalembe said her work involves “putting technologies in the hands” of decision-makers to bring about change.

 “My focus is putting the technologies that have been developed in the hands of people who have the power to make decisions. It involves working with the ministries in governments to embrace the technologies and bring about change,” she added.

The GEO community said Nakalembe is a champion in promoting food security, and has been the group’s food security initiatives and her efforts have saved lives and improved livelihoods. It added that her work has reduced the costs of food security emergence response in East African countries. Her work at the NASA hub includes building capacity in the use of earth observations data for agriculture monitoring in support of food security.

Nakalembe has worked with agriculture ministries in Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Mali and shared knowledge and information with stakeholders on the use of earth observations data. Her work is supposed to translate into proactive policies and programmes that save lives

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