Athens, Ga. – A competition to award grants to small-scale development initiatives has selected a University of Georgia project as one of 22 winners of the 2008 Global Development Marketplace on Sustainable Agriculture. UGA engineering professor William Kisaalita has received the $200,000 award in Washington, D.C. for his project in Uganda to field-test a renewable energy-powered milk cooler in the hands of smallholder dairy farmers.
This year’s competition was focused on agriculture as a potential pathway out of poverty for the 75 per cent of the world’s poor who live in rural areas. The grant will allow Kisaalita to field-test the cooler he developed with undergraduate students in a rural community with approximately 100 farmers to reduce post-harvest losses and increase farm income. Videos of Kisaalita and other winners discussing their projects are posted on the World Bank Development Marketplace 2008 website at http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/NEWS/0,,contentMDK:21915914~pagePK:64257043~piPK:437376~theSitePK:4607,00.html
One hundred finalists were selected from 1,800 proposals to attend the three-day award ceremony, sponsored by the World Bank, Global Environment Facility, International Finance Corporation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and GTZ. Twenty-two winners were then selected for innovative projects linking farmers to markets, improving access to land and tenure and addressing climate change and biodiversity.
“Interacting with the 100 finalists in Washington, D.C., was one of the most uplifting experiences of my life. It was a gathering of individuals passionate about and dedicating their lives to improving lives at the bottom of the economic pyramid through sustainable income-generating activities,” Kisaalita said. A native of Uganda and recipient of the inaugural Scholarship of Engagement Award from the Office of the Vice President of Public Service and Outreach, Kisaalita has been instrumental in initiating sustainable development projects in Morocco, Burkina Faso and China, as well. Central to his work is providing undergraduate students with meaningful global service-learning experiences.
“It is crucial that our university continues to find ways to work with international institutions to cement the inroads made by our collaborative initiatives,” said Dale Threadgill, director of the UGA Faculty of Engineering. “We are extremely honored by this recognition from the World Bank, as it affirms the approach that develops human scale solutions to the global issues of poverty and sustainable agriculture.”
“The work by Professor Kisaalita represents the best of what the land-grant system has to offer,” said J. Scott Angle, dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “He and his students have reduced complicated scientific principles down the level where practical application will help improve people’s lives.”