Kenya (Egerton University) Lawmakers from Berlin visit Egerton University on a Benchmarking Mission

A group of German Parliamentarians visited Egerton University. Germany is a key stakeholder in supporting academic research at the University.

The Foreign affairs Ministry Assistant Director of Foreign Service Mr. Jillo Abarufa led the German Parliamentary Group to Egerton University for Benchmarking.

On the other, hand, Egerton University Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Academic Affairs Professor Bernard Odhiambo Aduda chaired the session. During a session at the Vice Chancellors Chambers, the legislators expressed their gratitude for being welcomed to Egerton University, so that they can learn. The visitors were interested to learn more about Agricultural practices in Kenya and Climate Change effects on food production in the East African region.

Professor Aduda told the legislators that Vice-Chancellor Professor Isaac Kibwage was attending the Technical and Appraisal Meeting in Arusha for the African Centers of excellence organized by the World Bank and Inter-University Council for East Africa. He said the Vice Chancellor acknowledges the need to innovate, commercialize innovations, and continuity in supporting Centres of excellence among Universities, Governments, and the World Bank as specified in the Financing agreements.

He said Professor Kibwage welcomed the lawmakers and supports the initiatives that can make the University thrive and perform research activities that tackle issues around climate change, Food production, and Sustainable agricultural practices, among other spheres of learning.

Egerton is a premier University with seasoned professionals in the field of Agriculture, the parliamentarians were told. They were appraised with the academic research projects and programs that are ongoing at the University. Some of the research activities are in collaboration with institutions from Germany.

Ongoing Projects with Support from German Institutions

Egerton University Director Research Professor Nancy Mungai explained thematic areas of ongoing donor-funded research projects. Among the areas she delved into are:

Business and Entrepreneurship

The Partnerships for sustainable solutions with Sub-Sahara Africa; a project spearheaded by Professor Arnold Opiyo in the Faculty of Agriculture. It is supported by the German Ministry of Education and Research.

Food Security and Natural Resources

The Social Cohesion, Food and Health: Inclusive Food System Transitions; a project also spearheaded by Professor Arnold Opiyo in the Faculty of Agriculture. The study is funded by Berlin University Alliance.

Governance and Security

In this area, there is a program dubbed, ‘Jihad for all? Religious Knowledge, Counter-Narrativity and De-Radicalization Strategies in Kenya,’ led by Dr. Halkano Abdi Wario in the Faculty of Arts and Social Studies (FASS). This is a project that dissects the issues of security in Kenya and is supported by the Volkswagen Foundation, Germany through the funding initiative Knowledge for Tomorrow-Cooperative Research Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Health and Sanitation

This is an area the University through Professor Arnold Opiyo in the Faculty of Agriculture has a project known as, ‘Innovations and Capacity building for inclusive Nutrition -sensitive value chains in Kenya and Uganda,’ funded by DAAD BMBF.

Science and Technology

It is a thematic area that has a project led by Prof. Josphat Matasyoh in the Faculty of Science known as, ‘AVH PROJECT (CONSORTIUM) Nematicidal and Antibiofilm metabolites from Kenyan Basidiomycota,’ funded by Alexander Von Humboldt Foundation.

Nevertheless, the Dean of Gender studies at Egerton University Dr. Lilian Chesikaw did a presentation on gender parity. She said the University established a unit for lactating students. However, as much as the project was to support female students who are breastfeeding to attend classes without discontinuing.

“The project had donors supporting it but now it is hanging in balance. Our girls need to be supported to remain in school.” She said.

Dr. Chesikaw noted that land ownership in most rural parts of Kenya is male-dominated. This she says makes productivity in the agricultural sector remain behind as land inheritance challenges inhibit its utilization.

In an Interactive session, the legislators assured learners they will take feedback to their parliament; on the need to boost Kenyan exports to Germany and the need for new technology to boost agricultural productivity in Kenya for commercial and food reserves.

The Dean of Students Dr Japhet Mburugu Muthamia was present at the function. He was joined by the student’s Chairman Dennis Odero among other student leaders who interacted with the Legislators on a number of issues they raised that affect them as students.

In his remarks, Mr. Dennis Odero opined that climate change is a serious debate globally, and it concerns the students on the need for measures to mitigate the drastic effects on the environment.

“It is not only a challenge globally and in Africa but also here in Kenya, we need a national debate and conversations on how to come up with sustainable ways of farming and reduction of the effects of Climate change,” said Odero.

Evance Murei, a student in the Faculty of Environment explained the need for the adoption of dryland farming which encompasses specific agricultural techniques for the non-irrigated cultivation of crops. Dryland farming is associated with drylands, areas characterized by a cool wet season followed by a warm dry season. Other scientists working on climate smart agriculture, natural resources and nutritional security include Prof Ogendi at Chemeron Dryland research Centre, Prof Paul Kimurto who has identified several drought tolerant crops like pigeon peas, Finger millets and groundnuts currently grown by farmers in arid and semi-arid counties like Baringo, Turkana, Laikipia and Elgeyo Marakwet.