Community Outreach

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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

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.

For the past few years University of Nairobi (UoN), Kibwezi field station has been neglected. Located approximately 250 Kilometers from the capital Centre Nairobi in a dryland area, the field station was at one time almost on its death bed. This is despite education value the center’s vicinity holds for drylands students. Students have had to persevere the dropping in standards of the facility.

In line with the need to provide a serene environment for education and research to thrive, the Centre for Sustainable Dryland Ecosystems and Societies (CSDES); a partnership program between the University of Nairobi (UoN) and Colorado State University (CSU) has restored its lost glory. Among the structures that got a lion’s share in the renovation project were students’ hostels, the dining hall and water carriage systems across the station.

The Centre for Sustainable Dryland Ecosystem and Societies (CSDES) is hosting a team of faculty members from Colorado State University (CSU).  The main objectives of the CSU visit is to: assess Open Distance Learning/E-learning facilities at University of Nairobi Kikuyu campus, Kibwezi field station, Isiolo and Samburu; to review and develop dryland curriculum;

The Center for Sustainable Dryland Ecosystem and Societies (CSDES) has moved to cement its partnership with Colorado State University (CSU). This follows a series of teleconference calls on e-learning and USAID management and resource development portal. The conference call held on 11th September 2012 was aimed at discussing RM Portal system online, demonstrating the full capabilities of the system, and pointing out shortcomings and the creation of a new course on RM Portal. CSDES is hosted at the University of Nairobi (UoN) in the department of Land Resource Management and Agricultural Technology (LARMAT).

During the teleconference call the two institutions sought to review the current CSDES clientele, potential CSDES clientele and potential ways of facilitating dryland community and practitioner access to tertiary education. The two teams from Colorado and Nairobi also engaged on the prospects of developing curricula related to drylands, sustainability for diverse audiences and creating the next generation of leaders in sustainable drylands.

The Centre for Sustainable Dryland Ecosystems & Societies (CSDES) staff attended USAID/Kenya Agriculture Business and Environment Office (ABEO) quarterly partner’s forum held at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) in Nairobi on 7th September 2012.

Ten students have successfully completed their three months internship program at the various organizations where the Centre for Sustainable Dryland Ecosystems and Societies (CSDES) posted them. During an internship evaluation seminar held at CSDES offices, speaker after speaker praised the program noting that it had significantly made a difference in their academic lives and in understanding dryland management issues.

The second in a series of seminar organised by the Centre for Sustainable Dryland Ecosystems and Societies in the Department of Land Resources Management and Agricultural Technology (LARMAT), the seminar on soil was a roaring success.

In a bid to enhance more collaborations and partnerships with institutions engaged in education, research and action supporting dryland communities, the Centre for Sustainable Dryland Ecosystems and Societies (CSDES) has initiated talks with Practical Action.

Speaking in a meeting held on 10th August 2012 at the CSDES’ office, Grace Mukasa, Practical Action Regional Director, who was accompanied by Mr. Willy Tuimising, team lead on food and agriculture, said that Practical Action is looking forward to a strategic partnership with CSDES. The aim of the partnership is to come up with practical solutions for problems facing communities today. Some of the areas she identified for possible partnerships included; joint research and documentation of best practices, engagement of policy makers, joint fundraising, curriculum development and sharing of contacts.


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