Friday, September 23, 2011

The Center for Sustainable Drylands (CSD) Established

About the Center

The Centre for Sustainable Dryland Ecosystems and Societies(CSDES) is a partnership between University of Nairobi (UON) and Colorado State University (CSU) that seeks to transform higher education and create relevant action research to build human and institutional capacity for sustaining and improving ecosystems and livelihoods in Kenya. It is one of 11 Africa-U.S. Higher Education Initiative partnerships that received two years of funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through Higher Education for Development (HED) following a competitive application process.

The Center has been set up at the University of Nairobi, Department of Land Resource Management and
Agricultural Technology as the hub of a web of collaborative institutions engaged in education, research and action supporting dryland communities so that they can adapt to many changes affecting their sustainability.

Some of the Center’s activities include mainstreaming dryland issues in academic curricula review, short courses for skill-building in dryland development and recruitment of Center interns among others. The Center will also award short fellowships and grants for students, interns and faculty to work on needs-driven research for development on a competitive basis.

The long term vision of the Center is to provide a learning platform for knowledge exchange, resulting in better coordination and impacts of education research and outreach for dryland ecosystems and societies in Kenya. Encouraging proper action research backed by community participation is more likely to address the myriad challenges that continue to face dryland communities today.

These include: loss of ecosystem resilience, land degradation, loss of biodiversity, land fragmentation, land tenure and land use changes, conflict over natural resources, increased vulnerability of dryland livelihoods to droughts and floods and loss of access to global markets. The Center thus aims to enhance the capacity of the University of Nairobi to produce high –performing graduates and quality, demand driven research that contributes to more sustainable and productive dryland ecosystem and societies.

The implementation of the Center’s activities is being done collaboratively with other institutions such as;
RUFORUM, dryland management programs at the UON, ILRI, Reto-o-Reto Foundation, Ministry of Development of Northern Kenya and other arid lands. The Center has an advisory board composed of key players in dryland development issues and higher learning institutions, a project managerial committee and project implementation team headed by a project director.

The Center’s four major objectives include:
  1. To establish a Center in UON which results in eff ective co-ordination of interdisciplinary education, research and outreach supporting sustainable dryland ecosystems and societies in Kenya.
  2. To develop a dryland leadership learning program at the UON resulting in greater capacity of students and faculty to address the problems of dryland ecosystems and societies in Kenya.
  3. To develop a comparative, transdisciplinary Research –for –development program resulting in addressing the development and sustainability needs of dryland communities, their ecosystems and the policy makers who serve them.
  4. To create a dryland community outreach program resulting in greater participation in higher education by pastoralists, especially women, for development of more appropriate innovations for dryland systems.

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