Signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the University of Eswatini and Africa Cooperative Action Trust(ACAT)

University of Eswatini and ACAT Management, and members of staff from the Faculty of Science and Engineering posing for a group photo after the signing. 

KWALUSENI – On Wednesday 28 July 2021, the University of Eswatini (UNESWA) and the Africa Cooperative Action Trust (ACAT) signed a Memorandum of understanding in the Main Conference Room.  The collaborating department within UNESWA would be the Geography, Environmental Science and Planning (GEP).  In his welcome remarks the Vice Chancellor, Professor Justice Thwala noted that the purpose of the MoU was to “formalise the already existing partnership between the two institutions whose aim is to enhance our society, especially by improving the livelihoods of rural people through research and community based projects.”  He mentioned that the collaboration would further strengthen institutional capacity while systematically enhancing the nation’s efforts aimed at developing more sustainable and disaster resilient communities.

The GEP department had assisted ACAT with technical support and expertise in the form of seminars and workshops on erosion control for ongoing projects.  The Department has also collaborated on several joint funding initiatives to support the rural development endeavours of ACAT and the applied research initiatives of the Department on the sustainable utilisation of rural environmental resources.  “In return, ACAT has opened its hands wide and invited UNESWA to participate in project implementation and research in the project themes and locations where the organisation has a presence”, the VC mentioned. 

Professor Thwala stated that through the collaboration, two major forms of cooperation will be sought:

  • “First, co-operation by staff of both organizations towards further enhancing the service delivery to rural communities throughout the Kingdom of Eswatini, and
  • Secondly, collaboration of both staff and students on selected research and development projects with relevant ACAT staff.

This cooperation will see UNESWA students qualify well for their degree, while enabling both ACAT and UNESWA staff and students to share in such collective work through quality academic publications.  He also noted that the signing of the MoU is the beginning of an even stronger partnership between the two institutions, and a collaboration that will avail great opportunities for both parties and rural communities served by both institutions.”

In his partnership remarks, Mr Enock Dlamini, the National Director of ACAT, stated that a key milestone in the history of ACAT had been accomplished through the signing of the MoU with UNESWA.  Mr Dlamini said ACAT had been in existence in the country for 39 years and working with the rural communities. He mentioned that this has been a journey made possible by various partners. Mr Dlamini noted that they had worked with some donors since 1982 and their level of support has always been increasing. “To have a University as a partner is worth celebrating, it is exciting to have a partner of choice”, he exclaimed. Mr Dlamini mentioned that they were excited to partner with UNESWA an institution which they believe one is not well polished if he has not gone through it.  He said they were going to use this partnership for fundraising purposes. In 2022 ACAT would be celebrating 40 years in rural development and the next 40 years would be accomplished in style as they would be working together with their mentor, the University of Eswatini.  “Let’s put science into development and we need the University to help us achieve this.  Without the University, the development of this country would not be possible.”  Mr Dlamini thanked the GEP staff for making this memorable day possible and noted that since the work of ACAT also touched on agriculture, rural development and the environment, he hope they would have access to all the relevant departments.

After the signing, The Pro Vice Chancellor Academic Professor T.H. Gadaga made the closing remarks. He started off by thanking the Director of ACAT and his team for coming to UNESWA. He thanked the Vice Chancellor for his leadership and guidance to faculties in the mandate to work with communities.  Professor Gadaga appreciated ACAT for the 39 years they had worked with communities and donors in improving the livelihood of the people in rural communities.  He also thanked Professor Beckedal and Dr Mabaso for their enterprising initiatives in working with different organisations and wished that they keep up this spirit.  Prof also thanked the Dean of Science, Professor Sandile Motsa for his leadership in the Faculty of Science and Engineering.