9 May 2024

Protecting Livelihoods and Advancing Climate Change Literacy in Rural Uganda, South Africa, and Beyond

The CSC is delighted to present our next case study in our ongoing series demonstrating the impact of Commonwealth Alumni.  

This case study features Sidney Muhangi, a passionate advocate for sustainable development practices and recipient of two Commonwealth Scholarships. He sought the opportunity to study in the UK to enhance his understanding of the ways in which communities can develop without negatively impacting the environment. He graduated from Nottingham Trent University in 2017 with an MSc in Global Food Security and Development, before doing a year of research at the University of Nottingham during his PhD in Environmental Education at Rhodes University. After completing his studies, Sidney has worked on a wide variety of sustainable development initiatives.  

Sidney working with communities to construct vegetable tower gardens.

Immediately after acquiring his MSc, Sidney was employed by the Ubunye Foundation, which works to support the establishment of sustainable farms in the Eastern Cape area of South Africa. Sidney supported the organisation’s goals by establishing an education initiative called the Green Business Programme. Through this programme, 200 smallholder farmers were supported to improve the profitability of their businesses. Sidney also worked with the Ubunye Foundation to support 45 Early Childhood Development centres to establish vegetable tower gardens. This project has provided more than 1,500 children with a secure source of fresh vegetables. 

Sidney is also regularly engaged in international research projects, such as the Vocational Education and Training (VET) Africa 4.0 project. This project is a result of the collaboration between Sidney and his UK supervisors, and brought together a team of researchers working across multiple countries. The project, which is focussed on sustainable farming practices, aims to reduce inequality and promote sustainability through skills development. Sidney examined the curriculums offered by VET colleges in South Africa and Uganda, and established how sustainability could be better embedded into the teaching and training offered. His updated curriculum has since been implemented by those VET colleges. Furthermore, the University of Nottingham has also supported a project called Reimagined Agricultural Extension through a Learning Lens (REALL). This is an extension of the VET Africa 4.0 project, aimed at building the capacity of the VET outreach officers who support smallholder farmers. These two research projects have resulted in numerous publications.  

Sidney is currently working on an international project: ‘Monitoring and Evaluation of Climate Communication and Education’ (MECCE). The MECCE project partners with over 100 scholars and organisations aiming to increase global climate change literacy to promote mitigation efforts.  Sidney says that these various research projects would not have been possible without the professional networks he established through his Commonwealth Scholarships:  

‘Through these Scholarships, I have built extensive personal and professional networks, which have enabled me to engage in impactful research projects across Africa, such as VET-Africa 4.0, MECCE, and Re-imaging Agricultural Extension through a Learning Lens.’

‘My association with the Commonwealth Scholarship has opened doors to diverse personal achievements, allowing me to continue making meaningful contributions to academia and development initiatives.’

Sidney with his cohort of Earth Fellows during a visit to the University of Stirling.

Furthermore, Sidney is currently a 2024 British Council Scotland Earth Scholar, where he works on a research project investigating sustainability and smallholder farming in a changing climate. He also works with the Office of the Presidency of South Africa on the Just Energy Transition. This project is intended to ensure that the transition to a low-carbon economy does not adversely impact people currently employed in high-emission industries. As part of this, Sidney is developing a skills programme which will support employees who are affected by the forthcoming energy transition.   

Sidney’s work contributes to two of the CSC’s development themes: promoting innovation and entrepreneurship; and strengthening resilience and response to crises. Furthermore, Sidney is also working to address multiple UN Sustainable Development Goals. These include SDG 3 – Good Health and Well-being, SDG 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth, and SDG 10 – Reduced Inequalities.  

Read Sidney Muhangi’s case study here.