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African Drylands Institute for Sustainability
College of Agriculture and Veterinary Science
University of Nairobi
P.O. Box 29053 00625
Nairobi , Kenya

Email:adis@uonbi.ac.ke /csdes@uonbi.ac.ke
Tel: 254-020-2133086
Fax: 254-020-632121

Ten Students Benefit from CSDES Internship Program

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Kenya’s dryland areas (or ASALs – arid and semi-arid lands) make up more than 80% of the country and are mainly found in the Rift Valley. They are home to approximately 4 million pastoralists who constitute more than 10% of Kenya’s population plus other rangeland users (Kirbride and Grahn 2008:8). Livestock raised by pastoralists is worth US$800 million per year (AU-IBAR in IIED and SOS Sahel 2010). Pastoralists occupy most of the border areas of Kenya, with pastoral groups straddling borders with Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania.

The literacy levels in these areas continue to be low. Inhabitants of these areas also have no knowledge on how to use their lands for their own benefits. They lack information on how use these drylands. To increase levels of education on drylands management, a three month internship program was launched by the Centre for Sustainable Drylands Ecosystems and Societies (CSDES). It was aimed at transforming higher education in the Drylands of Kenya. Ten young graduates were sent as far as Loita, Garissa, Mbeere, Laikipia, Kajiado/Kitengela, Turkana, Taita-Taveta, Tana-River/ Isiolo, Kiboko, and Mara. The target was at least a tertiary qualification at Certificate level. Applicants with a Diploma in a relevant field in Drylands were also encouraged to apply with main emphasis being students from the drylands communities.

The activities for the internship program entailed linking up PhD student/ researcher to the local community and advise on cultural issues and practices, organize community meetings to prioritize local needs and disseminate back knowledge generated by the PhD research to the community.

At the completion of their internship program students were able to carry out field assessments and learn dryland community dynamics, the value of dryland management and how to conduct demand driven research. Upon completion of their internship program, they provided their testimonials about life in the drylands and were able to appreciate the real value of drylands.

As Agnes Keshine (Attached to Mr. Stanley Kibet, a Dryland Resource Management PhD student) would later appreciate; “During my internship I learnt the importance of invasive species, for instance plants of the genus Opuntia, in the society. I also learnt in practice what group dynamics entails and the art of convincing respondents to appreciate the importance of research. I worked very closely with my mentor who encouraged and advised me on the best choice to take in my carrier.”

 

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