Jali Ardhi

The University of Plymouth has been shortlisted three times at this year’s Green Gown Awards – the national programme that recognises excellence in sustainability across higher and further education. 

The University is a finalist in the 2030 Climate Action category, which looks at steps that institutions are taking towards radically cutting their carbon footprints. 

And it is shortlisted twice in the Research with Impact category for projects being conducted in Africa to address global issues of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder and soil erosion.

The first concerns education and rehabilitation programmes that are addressing COPD in Uganda – work that has subsequently been extended to other developing countries such as Vietnam, Kyrgyzstan and Sri Lanka. 

This has included specific projects to educate pregnant mothers, via midwives, on the dangers of exposure to smoke inhalation from cooking fires; rehabilitation using culturally-adapted dance and music; the creation of educational materials in collaboration with Illustration students at the University; and crowd-funding for a lung-health medical centre.

Kupumua Lung Health project

A partnership project between the University of Plymouth and Makerere University in Uganda.

The project aims to bring together medicine, art, music and dance to educate, treat, and develop capacity and capability in Uganda.

Dr Rupert Jones gives further details on the project in this video.

The second, Jali Ardhi, is an ongoing interdisciplinary research project that has been working to address soil erosion in Tanzania. Geographers at the University have used scientific methods to identify underlying factors causing the issue, but it's been through social science that they have worked with community stakeholders at all levels – including the Maasai herdsmen – to help them co-create solutions. 

Both projects have received extensive international research funding, and are supported by the Sustainable Earth Institute.

The University has won numerous Green Gown Awards in the past decade, across teaching and for the way it operates its campus. Run by the EAUC, in conjunction with UKRI, the Green Gowns will be announced next spring.

Longstanding community meeting places are becoming isolated by gully encroachment
While change is inevitable, it is imperative that cultural traditions do not disappear but remain part of the new landscape
Once the erosion sets in, it spreads rapidly. Here recently formed badlands are eating away at good grazing land

Jali Ardhi – care for the land

Soil erosion and associated downstream siltation problems challenge water, food and energy security.

The Jali Ardhi project aims to evaluate the impact of soil erosion on both the environmental and social wellbeing of communities in East Africa.

Read more about the Jali Ardhi project involving Carey Marks
Image credit: Carey Marks
Professor Will Blake

“In the face of physical threats of soil erosion and land degradation, East African agro-pastoral farming systems are approaching a tipping point. There has never been a greater urgency for evidence-led interventions to support better, and sustainable, food production and to reverse the degradation of natural resources that threatens food and water security.

“Central to our approach is the need for practices that move away from top-down externally driven solutions. Instead we need to use evidence from our scientific research to work with communities and farmers to collaboratively design solutions for real and lasting socio-economic change, and help those communities and farmers to innovate.”

Professor Will Blake, Professor of Catchment Science

Sustainable Earth Institute 

The Sustainable Earth Institute is about promoting a new way of thinking about the future of our world.
We bring researchers together with businesses, community groups and individuals to develop cutting-edge research and innovative approaches that build resilience to global challenges.
We link diverse research areas across the University including science, engineering, arts, humanities, health and business.
Baobab tree in Madagascar

The activity highlighted here is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)

NERC is the UK's main agency for funding and managing research, training and knowledge exchange in the environmental sciences. Our work covers the full range of atmospheric, Earth, biological, terrestrial and aquatic science, from the deep oceans to the upper atmosphere and from the poles to the equator. We coordinate some of the world's most exciting research projects, tackling major environmental issues such as climate change, environmental influences on human health, the genetic make-up of life on Earth, and much more.

NERC is part of UK Research & Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government. www.ukri.org