The global population is expected to hit the 9 billion mark by 2050, with most experts predicting a dire food shortage it is also recognized that Africa is among the few regions in the world that has not yet reached the limits to agricultural yield per hectare of land and will be able to sustainably increase yields with the current available technology if they are managed appropriately. However, Africa is also the continent with the highest human population growth with projection set to move from the current 15% of the world population to 25% by 2050. This means that the current land that is cultivated for food crops will reduce and food production will move to lands traditionally maintained as rangelands. A deliberate attempt must be made to protect rangelands communities and preserve the natural resource biodiversity as outside pressures begin to exploit these lands. Lack of forward planning that is informed by research and adoption of evidence based policies will result in loss of ecosystem resilience, land degradation, loss of biodiversity and land fragmentation. This will have catastrophic effects on communities living in dryland ecosystems and especially the pastoral communities that depend on the natural resources of the rangelands.
It is this realization that saw the establishment of the Centre for Sustainable Dryland Ecosystems and Societies (CSDES) in 2011, funded by USAID-HED. The Centre was formed as a partnership between the University of Nairobi and Colorado State University whose main agenda was to establish a web of collaborative institutions engaged in enabling dry land communities’ access higher education and take part in action research so as to offer them a lasting empowerment tool. Following the successful implementation of CSDES activities it was mooted that CSDES increase its mandate, partnership and operations and be established as the African Drylands Institute for Sustainability (ADIS). ADIS was successfully launched in September 2015 to accommodate CSDES with its operations and built cohesion, collaborations within University departments and other institutions of high learning. ADIS has a growing agenda of contributing to sustainable ecosystems and livelihoods of dryland communities in Kenya and throughout Africa.
My strong ardent hopes as the founding Director of ADIS, at the University of Nairobi, is that in partnership with other stakeholders, the institution will be able to transform higher education and create relevant action research that builds human and institutional capacity for sustaining and improving dryland ecosystems and livelihoods not only in Kenya but for the rest of Africa.
The institute aspires to engage in rigorous transformative education, action research, knowledge management and full-fledged support of dryland communities.