KAMPALA – November 2, 2010 - Researchers in Uganda now enjoy instant access to international development information from the World Bank and other international publications at the Uganda Development Information Center (UDIC).
Launched in March 2010 as a collaborative effort between the World Bank and the Economic Policy Research Center (EPRC) at Makerere University, the UDIC helps researchers find global development information, publications and reports in an open access reference library. It includes World Bank data, resources and documents as well as information from other international financial institutions and many United Nations agencies.
This timely information helps researchers complete assignments faster and more efficiently. Paul Wabiga, one of the 18 master’s students at the Faculty of Economics and Management at Makerere University, regularly uses the UDIC for his research on international trade and development.
In Wabiga’s first year of studies, he had very limited access to the research information he needed. The University Library, though relatively well stocked, failed to provide adequate materials for researchers in his area. The UDIC helped cut the time it takes to find this material.
“In 2009, it used to take me a whole month to submit one course work because it was very difficult to find a library which provides a broad range of information resources,” Wabiga said.
Today at the UDIC, it takes him less than two weeks to submit an assignment. “I am so grateful to the partners that fund the UDIC and for their commitment and generous support by bringing information at no cost to our doorstep,” Wabiga added.
Dr. John Matovu, head of the Information Unit at EPRC, thanked the World Bank for establishing the resource centre at the largest university in the country and in particular at EPRC, a center of excellence in economics and development research.
“It is easy to reach out to hundreds of students and researchers in Uganda while concurrently reaching development practitioners, non-governmental organizations and other local groups,” Matovu said. “The centre provides users with comprehensive development information, including the latest Ugandan-related and global data, serving as a gateway for public information resources in Uganda.”
The UDIC collection includes more than 1,000 publications including serial publications, multimedia materials on developmental topics, economic overviews, sector analyses; project documents and reports from multiple international organizations active in Uganda; and international publishers’ books.
Free Internet access has enabled users to get better acquainted with the online databases and publications. UDIC users also have access to free consultation on searching for research information and free Internet services.
Spreading the word to more researchers
To familiarize other researchers with the center, the EPRC hosted a book exhibition in October to display the most recent development titles. Researchers were also given a demonstration on how to access online resources and World Bank datasets, including the open data site.
Hillary Berinya, a lecturer in the Faculty of Gender, attended the exhibition and said he hoped that more centers like the UDIC would be set up in other regions of the country.
“The services are efficient and the database is updated with all resources needed for research work. Accessibility of these resources is easy and takes short time. I would like to participate in all activities that UDIC intends to carry out,” Berinya said.
Berinya said that his team considered the opening of the Development Information Centre as an important event and would like to continue working with international organizations in the same spirit.
The EPRC also uses the UDIC as a knowledge sharing place to promote national debate on topical development issues and present global and regional reports or studies. The UDIC is open to the public every day during working hours, except on the weekends and public holidays.