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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 /
Tel: 254-020-2133086
Fax: 254-020-632121


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Date and time: 
Mon, 2013-04-22 15:38

The Centre for Sustainable Dryland Ecosystems and Societies (CSDES) organized for a training seminar in Agent Based Modeling (ABM)from 12th March – 23rd Marchas part of the realization of its capacity building objective. The event attracted participants from 7 institutions ranging from students to staff members of governmental and non-governmental institutions. Students came from Nairobi University School of Biological Studies (Chiromo Campus) and College of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences (Upper Kabete Campus) and from Kenyatta University department of Environmental Sciences. They were drawn both from undergraduate and postgraduate programs. Non-students came from institutions such as Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), Regional Centre for Mapping of Resource for Development (RCMRD), and National Museums of Kenya. University Staffs were not left out as students, even among the learned for we had Prof. Genevieve Wanjala who is the dean of the School of Education, University of Nairobi, and Dr.  Richard Onwonga of the same university.  

Prof. Randall  Boone of Colorado State University (CSU) and International Livestock  Research Institute (ILRI) was the  instructor of the training. He used the NetLogo platform for the modeling seminar.  NetLogo is a programmable environment for simulating natural and social phenomena and is suitable for complex systems.

Modeling is an age long way of seeking solution to life’s problems but currently it is gaining prominence in the field of research. It is a way of minimizing costs in doing research by using existing information on a given subject of research to try to see what could happen under various scenarios on which research has not been done.

The first week of the training was basically theoretical in nature and was to help the students master the programing language and understand how the ABM works by going through coded examples in the program and relating them with research findings in the lectures that were given. The second week was largely practical and was meant to give the students, in groups of four, a hands-on experience in coming up with a model of their own under the guidance of their well able instructor Dr. Boone. It was a unanimous confession by the class that modeling is intensely interesting, and that to the degree that it was interesting, it was likewise mentally taxing requiring close logic and consistent coding.

The closing ceremony was graced by the presence of Prof. Solomon Shibairo, dean faculty of Agriculture, acting principal and who also presented the principal of the college Prof. Agnes Mwang’ombe who was engaged on other duties. Others present were Prof. Charles Mulei, dean faculty of veterinary medicine, Prof. Robinson Kinuthia, chairman department of Land Resources Management and Agricultural Technology, Prof. J. T. Njoka, the coordinator of the Centre, and Prof. Charles  Gachene, the organizing committee chairman.  The principal in her closing speech, through Prof. Shibairo, commended the Centre’s commitment in bringing several disciplines to work together in problem solving since most of life’s problems are too complex for dry due discipline to solve. She challenged the beneficiaries of the short course to continue networking together so that the knowledge and skills acquired can be put to use and passed on to others.

A total of 18 persons benefited from the course which was sealed by the issuance of certificates. The Centre also helped in January in having 8 undergraduate students sponsored by University of Michigan and 3 postgraduate students sponsored by Princeton University have a 3 weeks field training on various issues in conservation at Mpala Research Centre in Laikipia.

The training was proudly sponsored by USAID, Colorado State University (CSU) and Higher Education for Development (HED)








[1] Wilensky, U. 1999. NetLogo. Center for Connected Learning and Computer-Based Modeling, Northwestern University. Evanston, IL.


Expiry Date: 
Wed, 2014-12-31 15:38
Contact Person: 

Prof. Njoka

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