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Out of 17 semi-finalists teams, Gulu University, with a team of 5 comprising of Mr Nelson Papi Kolliesuah, Ms. Monique Mededode Sognigbe, Ms. Marveen Nafula, Ms. Iyaloo Nghinaalo Sheyavali and Mr. Aaron Ekipetot Nanok were chosen by the jury panel as the only African team to participate in The Geneva Challenge.

This year, students were asked to address the complex issues arising from the lack of social inclusion and how to tackle these challenges in order to foster social and economic development. .

The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies is an institution of research and higher education dedicated to the study of world affairs, with a particular emphasis on the cross-cutting fields of international relations and development issues.

They aim to promote international cooperation and make a contribution to the progress of developing societies, endeavor to develop creative thinking on the major challenges of our time, foster global responsibility and advance respect for diversity. They participate in global discussions and prepare future policy-makers to lead tomorrow’s world.

Eager to stimulate reflection and innovation on development from diverse disciplinary and contextual perspectives and with the generous support of Ambassador Jenö Staehelin, the Graduate Institute launched, in 2014, the Advancing Development Goals Contest, an international competition for graduate students.

The Advancing Development Goals International Contest for Graduate Students (The Geneva Challenge) on 17-Sepember 2020 invited teams of graduate students from all academic programs to devise innovative and pragmatic solutions to key international issues.

366 teams composed of 1,368 graduate students from 102 different nationalities, registered to take part in the 2020 Geneva Challenge. 145 project entries were submitted by 558 students from teams hailing from all over the world, with 17 semi-finalists teams. This year, the Jury Panel chose five finalist teams, one per continent:

 The Gulu University team pitched the Vertical Farming in Refugees Setting (VEFIRS) – A Tool for Fostering Intergroup Relations and Social Integration citing that; in the last decade, Uganda in East Africa has witnessed an influx of refugees from South Sudan, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The demand for land continues to grow at a fast pace, especially in Bidibidi, the largest refugee settlement in East Africa. This continues to provoke tensions among refugees and host communities. As a result, refugees remain susceptible to exclusion from social, economic and political affairs in the country.

The VEFIRS project aims to build the adaptive capacity of refugees and the host community of Bidibidi settlement, which is subject to land scarcity and rocky soil, through the multi-storey vertical farming approach. The goal of this initiative is to help refugees become self-reliant in overcoming food shortages and poverty, which are drivers of unethical behaviors.

The award ceremony for the 2020 Advancing Development Goals International Contest for Graduate Students will be held virtually today, 6 October from 15:00 to 16:00 CET following a keynote address by Juan Manuel Santos, former President of Colombia and sole recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016.

This year’s winning project will be awarded CHF 10,000; the two teams in second place will receive CHF 5,000 each and the two teams in third place, CHF 2,500 each with a Swiss Franc exchange rate of 1 CHF: 4041 UGX


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