The Lake Victoria Research (VicRes) Initiative is a regional collaborative-multidisciplinary research programme of the Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA). It was established in 2002 following consultations among scientists, senior administrators and other experts drawn from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and, staff of Sida/SAREC.
It is funded by the Government of Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) under the framework of the Lake Victoria Development Partnership (LVDP) Programme. VicRes has been implemented through Phase 1(2003 – 2005), Phase 2 (2006- 2008) and the current Phase (3) runs from 2009 to 2014.
Since then, universities and research institutions have been supported to undertake multi-disciplinary, gender sensitive and regional research to enhance the scientific understanding of the poverty-environment nexus through generation and dissemination of information and technological innovations. VicRes has been implemented in phases, an approach that allows incorporation of lessons learnt, gaps identified and emerging issues in development, environment and natural resources. Phases 1 and 2 (2003-2008) of VicRes were envisioned as the beginning of long-term efforts to build and enhance research capacity to support sustainable development of the LVB.
VicRes awards research grants on a competitive basis open to researchers in universities, research institutions and government agencies in the EAC Partner States. The programme is implemented through a regional coordination office located in IUCEA secretariat in Kampala, Uganda.
Phase 1 covered the years 2003-2005 with a total budget of SEK 17.1 million (approximately USD 3.5 million) while Phase 2 covered the years 2006-2008 with a total budget of SEK 50.4 million (approximately USD 7.5 million).
Phase 1 also included the setting-up of the Secretariat/Regional Coordination Office (RCO), networking with partner institutions, developing regulations for VicRes grant awards and management, and the operationalization of the Scientific and Policy Advisory Committees. The research grant process was initiated with a call for proposals in January 2003 on the thematic area "Wetlands". In 2004 and 2005, a second thematic area "Land Use" was introduced. By the end of Phase 1 in December 2005, VicRes had 238 researchers involved in 57 research projects.
Phase 2 built on the activities and achievements of Phase 1. The research themes were: Ethnobotany and Health, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Indigenous and Local Knowledge, Land Use Options, Natural Resources Management, and Pollution and Heavy metals. By December 2008, VicRes had 96 research projects involving over 450 researchers and at least two postgraduate students per project.
Phase 3 started in January 2009 following a successful implementation of Phases 1 and 2. It is expected to build on and consolidate the achievements, lessons learnt and best practices and address the gaps and challenges of Phases 1 and 2. Furthermore, it is aimed at increasing utilization of research results and to upscale the impacts of VicRes research in the Lake Victoria basin and the surrounding areas in the Partner States.
Phase 3 is also being implemented with a view to enhancing the utility of research findings by the stakeholders and later to translate the results into products of commercial or industrial value. As such, Phase 3 places great emphasis on supporting research of high scientific quality and outputs and especially those that enhance local communities' adaptation to effects of climate change. It is hoped that in the next phase, VicRes will emphasize promotion of innovations and linking the researchers to the business community/private sector as research results of high scientific quality become available for product development.
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