AWARD Announces 2009 Fellowship Winners

20 07 2009

Harnessing the Potential of African Women in Agricultural Research and Development

African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) announced today itsselection of 61 women scientists who will receive the innovative AWARD Fellowship – a fellowship designed to boost the female talent pool for African agriculture. Chosen from nearly 500 applicants from 10 sub-Saharan African countries, these extraordinary women bring with them scientific and development expertise that has great potential to tackle the food crisis and climate change while improving the daily lives of small-scale farmers.

This is the second year AWARD has identified and honored outstanding African women scientists to receive career-development resources aimed at strengthening their expertise as pro-poor researchers while also positioning them as leaders. They come from 48 different institutions of education and research in the region.

On July 10 2009, the G8 pledged US $20 billion to food security and agricultural development programs. As U.S. President Barack Obama says, “the purpose of aid should be to create the conditions where it’s no longer needed – to help people become self-sufficient.” AWARD is striving to create such conditions by empowering the continent’s women who are best poised to bring about long term solutions.

Right now, 80 percent of Africa’s farmers are women and 60 to 80 percent of Africa’s food is produced by women. “Yet,” according to AWARD Director Vicki Wilde, “only 5 percent of agricultural extension and 10 percent of rural credit reaches women. Part of the reason this longstanding situation hasn’t changed is because women comprise only 25 percent of the agricultural R&D talent pool and very few hold positions of leadership.”

As Ms Wilde explained, “this means there are not enough African women in a position to influence the priorities for agricultural R&D. Much more needs to be done to ensure rural women’s voices and needs are brought into laboratories and field projects.”

AWARD Fellowships grew out of a pilot program of the CGIAR Gender & Diversity Program that was launched by the Rockefeller Foundation. AWARD is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and United States Agency for International Development.  It is the only program of its kind.

“The first year we set some high standards but had no idea what was possible,” said Dr Stella Williams, Professor of Agricultural Economics at Obafemi-Awolowo University in Nigeria who serves as Chair of the AWARD Steering Committee. “Now, benchmarked against some original goals, we realize that AWARD is not only meeting a great need, it has produced results – in terms of supporting women but also in terms of contributing to the well-being of rural communities.”

Dr Jolly Kabirizi of Uganda, one of AWARD’s earliest fellows, credits her support from AWARD with new directions in her career. When she recently received a Women and Young Professionals Science Competitions prize for her work with women farmers and fodder crops, she said “AWARD gave me the courage to show the world that it pays off to work in areas not everybody finds attractive. Yet, indigenous vegetables and working with women farmers on alternatives to commercial fodder additives are topics with wide reaching impacts for food security, quality of nutrition and improvement of livelihoods.” Professor Mary Abukutsa Onyango of Kenya, also an early fellowship winner who now serves as an AWARD mentor, received first prize in the same competition for her work on increasing nutrition and income through improved production technologies.  

“High food prices are disproportionately affecting poor rural households, and increased droughts, water scarcity, and other effects of climate change are making it even more difficult for small farmers, most of whom are women, to prosper,” said Haven Ley, program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “The AWARD program is empowering African women to address these challenges and help African farmers build better lives for themselves and their families.”

The first act of the fellowship is assigning each recipient a mentor – a more senior professional carefully chosen to match the fellow’s area of expertise and personal goals. In addition, each fellow will attend workshops on science writing, proposal writing and leadership. Fellows also are sponsored to attend science conferences to present their research and to network with others in their field. The most experienced fellows also have the option of competing for the opportunity to spend 3 to 9 months learning advanced techniques at world-class facilities worldwide, including the CGIAR Centers and a number of African universities. 

AWARD Fellows not only receive many benefits, they also give back. During the second year of her fellowship, each fellow serves as a mentor to a more junior woman scientist from her institution, ‘sharing forward’ everything she’s learned. In addition she is requested to organize community-level events, serving as a role model to young girls and boys. 

“By improving their networks and having our fellows serve as role models to their communities, we are increasing the impact of these career-enhancing fellowships. Even though women have completed their educations and have entered the workforce, they often drop out because of obstacles they reach on the career ladder and few reach positions of leadership,” explained Dr. Agnes Mwang’ombe, Principal of the College for Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences, University of Nairobi and Vice Chair of the AWARD Steering Committee. “AWARD can help fix this ‘leaky pipeline’ and support women scientists as they support the farmers of their countries.”

 Congratulations to the 2009 AWARD Fellowship winners

The AWARD Steering Committee proudly announces its 2009 fellowship recipients:
Post-Doctoral Fellowship winners:

Dr. Abebe, Yewelsew (Food Sciences & Nutrition)
Associate Vice-President, Hawassa University, Ethiopia

Dr. Akello, Beatrice (Biological Sciences/Biotechnology)
Research Officer, National Agricultural Research Organization, Uganda

Dr. Asuming-Brempong, Stella (Agronomy)
Senior Research Fellow, University of Ghana, Ghana

Dr. Athman, Shahasi Yusuf (Biological Sciences/Biotechnology)
Project Officer, Catholic Relief Services, Kenya

Dr. Chipungu, Patience (Biological Sciences/Biotechnology)
Commodity Team Leader, Chancellor College, Malawi

Dr. Davies, Onome (Fisheries & Aquaculture)
Lecturer, Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Nigeria

Dr. Edema, Mojisola (Food Sciences & Nutrition)
Senior Lecturer, University of Agriculture-Abeokuta, Nigeria

Dr. Hamadina, Elsie (Agronomy)
Lecturer, University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria

Dr. Jorge, Maria Alexandra (Agronomy)
Associate Scientist, Bioversity International/International Livestock Research Institute, Mozambique

Dr. Jolaosho, Alaba (Agronomy)
Associate Professor, University of Agriculture-Abeokuta, Nigeria

Dr. Kabanyoro, Ruth (Agronomy)
Research Officer, National Agricultural Research Organization, Uganda

Dr. Karuhanga-Beraho, Monica (Extension Education)
Lecturer, Makerere University, Uganda

Dr. Minja, Ruth (Agronomy)
Principal Agricultural Research Officer, Mikocheni Agricultural Research Institute, Tanzania

Dr. Mutayoba, Salome (Animal & Livestock /Veterinary Sciences)
Associate Professor, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania

Dr. Otegbayo, Bolanle (Food Sciences & Nutrition)
Lecturer, Bowen University, Nigeria

Post-Master’s Fellowship winners:

Abdulsalam-Saghir, Bola Petra (Extension Education)
Lecturer, Federal University of Agriculture-Abeokuta, Nigeria

Akin-Idowu, Pamela (Biological Sciences/Biotechnology)
Research Officer, National Horticultural Research Institute, Nigeria

Aklilu, Zelekawork Paulos (Agricultural Economics)
Research Officer, Ethiopia Strategy Support Program, Ethiopia

Betiku, Omolola (Animal & Livestock/Veterinary Sciences)
Junior Research Fellow, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria

Chamba, Rosita Elias Esperanca (Natural Resources Management)
Researcher/Head of Cooperation, Institute of Agricultural Research of Mozambique, Mozambique

Correia, Alzira de Augusta Dacia (Animal & Livestock/Veterinary Sciences)
Dean/Senior Lecturer, Eduardo Mondlane University, Mozambique

Habwe, Florence (Food Sciences & Nutrition)
Tutorial Fellow, Maseno University, Kenya

Kumasi, Tyhra Carolyn (Natural Resources Management)
PhD Student, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana

Lawal, Justina (Agricultural Economics)
Senior Research Officer, Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria, Nigeria

Menezes, Carla (Animal & Livestock/Veterinary Sciences)
Head of Division of Nutrition, Institute of Agricultural Research of Mozambique, Mozambique

Mhango, Jarret (Agroforestry)
Dean/Senior Lecturer, Mzuzu University, Malawi

Mofya-Mukuka, Rhoda (Agricultural Economics)
PhD Student, University of Kiel (Germany), Zambia

Molla, Tesfashbamlak (Agronomy)
Assistant Researcher, Werer Agricultural Research Centre-Ethiopia Institute of Agricultural Research, Ethiopia

Msoffe, Fortunata (Natural Resources Management)
Graduate Fellow, University of Edinburgh/International Livestock Research Institute (Kenya), Tanzania

Mulugo, Lucy (Natural Resources Management)
Teaching Assistant, Makerere University, Uganda

Njenga, Mary (Natural Resource Management)
Research Officer, International Potato Center, Kenya

Ogalleh, Sarah Ayeri (Natural Resources Management)
Project Assistant, Centre for Training and Integrated Research in ASAL Development, Kenya

Otoo, Miriam (Agricultural Economics)
PhD Student/Graduate Research Assistant, Purdue University (USA), Ghana

Oyunga, Mary (Food Sciences & Nutrition)
Research Officer, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (Tigoni), Kenya

Wanyera, Ruth (Biological Sciences/Biotechnology)
Senior Research Officer, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (Njoro), Kenya

Wendiro, Deborah (Biological Sciences/Biotechnology)
Head of Microbiology Department, Uganda Industrial Research Institute, Uganda

 Post-Bachelor’s Fellowship winners:

Ardo, Bashir Aishatu (Animal & Livestock/Veterinary Sciences)
Women Instructor, Association pour la Promotion de l’Elevage au Sahel et en Savane (Cameroon), Nigeria

Cherobon, Everlyne (Agricultural Economics)
Project Coordinator, Visionary Leadership & Mentoring Institute, Kenya

Cherunya, Angela (Biological Sciences/Biotechnology)
Researcher, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (Kitale), Kenya

Chisenga, Lungowe (Agronomy)
Pasture Agronomist, Golden Valley Agricultural Research Trust, Zambia

Dhabangi, Margaret (Biological Sciences/Biotechnology)
Research Technician, Uganda Industrial Research Institute, Uganda

Gichangi, Anne (Agricultural Economics)
Research Officer, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (Njoro), Kenya

Hamiyanze, Maureen (Extension Education)
Trainer, Pilgrim Wesleyan Church, Zambia

Imbumi, Maryam (Food Sciences & Nutrition)
Student, Centre of Excellence for Nutrition-North West University (South Africa), Kenya

Karanja, Lucy (Biological Sciences/Biotechnology)
Laboratory Technician, Centre for Agriculture & Biosciences Institute-Africa, Kenya

Kayitesi, Eugenie (Food Sciences & Nutrition)
Student, University of Pretoria (South Africa), Rwanda

Kimani, Esther (Biological Sciences/Biotechnology)
Research Assistant, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (Njoro), Kenya

Kithika, Joan (Natural Resources Management)
Consultant, CORE Occupational Solutions, Kenya

Lugwana, Esther Nampeera (Extension Education)
Research Assistant, National Crop Resources Research Institute, Uganda

Matsimbe, Msekiwa (Aquatic Resources & Fisheries)
Program Assistant, Bunda College of Agriculture, Malawi

Mutonyi, Sarah (Agroforestry)
Agroforestry Scientist, National Agricultural Research Organization, Uganda

Mwaniki, Phoebe (Agronomy)
Assistant Researcher, Lagrotech Consultants, Kenya

Nakamya, Mary Frances (Biological Sciences/Biotechnology)
Senior Laboratory Technologist, Makerere University, Uganda

Nandokha, Tabeel (Agricultural Engineering)
Research Officer, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (Muguga South), Kenya

Numafo, Mavis (Natural Resources Management)
Principal Technical Officer, Crops Research Institute-Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Ghana

Okafor, Lilian (Animal & Livestock/Veterinary Sciences)
Assistant Lecturer, University of Nigeria, Nigeria

Omenwa, Veronica Chineye (Biological Sciences/Biotechnology)
Research Officer, African Regional Aquaculture Centre, Nigeria

Osoniyi, Olayinka (Aquatic Resources & Fisheries)
Post Graduate Student, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria

Ruzibuka, Verena (Food Sciences & Nutrition)
Intern, Rwanda Bureau of Standard, Rwanda

Tuei, Beatrice (Animal & Livestock/Veterinary Sciences)
District Livestock Officer, Ministry of Livestock Development, Kenya

Wamono, Kakai Esther (Food Sciences & Nutrition)
Research Assistant/Student, Makerere University, Uganda

About AWARD. African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) is a project of the CGIAR Gender & Diversity Program hosted at the World Agroforestry Centre in Nairobi, Kenya.  It offers a comprehensive yet flexible career enhancement fellowship program to build up the talent pool of highly skilled African women in agricultural R&D. AWARD has three cornerstones – science capacity, leadership development and mentoring. AWARD is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and USAID. For more information: and

About the CGIAR. The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), established in 1971, is a strategic partnership of countries, international and regional organizations and private foundations supporting the work of 15 international agricultural research Centers. In collaboration with national agricultural research systems, civil society and the private sector, the CGIAR fosters sustainable agricultural growth through high-quality science aimed at benefiting the poor through stronger food security, better human nutrition and health, higher incomes and improved management of natural resources. For more information, please visit:




One response

16 08 2009
Professor Ajaga Nji

This is a giant step by donors and CGIAR to enhance female African scientists in agriculture and rural development. Yet, the contributions and the impact of the skills ad competences of these individuals (and other African scientists and scholars for that matter) can be felt and sustainable only if African countries build ownership and sustainability in their research institutions through vibrant agriculture and development policies, with the desired sterling and a keen commitment to science and technology. Institutional governance remains a serious handicap to African development.

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