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Climate-U East Africa Final Dissemination Event

Climate-U East Africa Final Dissemination Event

20th-21st September 2023

 The Transforming Universities for a Changing Climate (Climate-U), a three-year project funded by the UK Research and Innovation’s Global Challenges Research Fund, held its final East Africa dissemination event at Kenyatta University’s main campus. The first day of the event featured diverse exhibitions comprising students’ materials on climate action and sustainable development. The Green Education Ambassadors and student clubs such as KU-UNESCO, Birding, Art Therapy, Swahili Stadia and Kenyatta University Environmental Club exhibited art materials, photography portfolios, drawings and eco-friendly products designed as part of Climate-U’s Participatory Action Research (PAR) interventions.

A conference was held on the second day, featuring a panel discussion of university leaders and policymakers. The panelists included Prof. Waceke Wanjohi, DVC Academic representing Prof. Paul Wainaina, Vice-Chancellor of Kenyatta University; Prof. David Gichoya, Vice-Chancellor of Kenya Methodist University (KeMU); Dr. Christina Raphael, Deputy Principal at the University of Dar es Salaam College of Education (DUCE); Mr. Darius Ogutu, Director of University Education, Kenya; Dr. Fredrick Awuor, DVC Administration, Planning, and Finance at Kisii University (KSU); Dr. Eunice Marete from the Commission for University Education; and Ms. Anne Nyatichi, Deputy Director of Programmes and Partnerships at the National Environment Management Authority, Kenya. The panelists’ recommendation to higher education institutions (HEIs) was to adopt interventions such as designing and delivering climate change education-oriented curriculum, implementing campus greening activities and initiating university-community engagement. These actions aim to co-design and co-implement initiatives to strengthen national climate action efforts. Moreover, the panelists extolled Climate-U’s success in the 4 participating East African universities and urged other HEIs to utilise the projects’ interventions as benchmarks to green their curriculum.

Other presentations at the event included 3 qualitative case study findings on mainstreaming climate change content into Kenyatta University curriculum, the role of indigenous knowledge in natural resource conservation: Case of Njuri Ncheke (Ameru Community Council of Elders) by KeMU and carbon literacy levels among smallholder farmers as a climate change strategy by KSU. Presenting the Kenyatta University qualitative case study, Dr. Purity Muthoni noted that various schools at the University used several approaches such as explicit programmes, common school units, standalone departmental units, elective courses and indirect climate change-oriented departmental units to integrate climate change content into their curriculums. The study found that existing campus greening activities by students at Kenyatta University include circular economy practices, tree planting and environmental conservation advocacy. Dr. John Muchiri, Climate-U affiliate researcher at KeMU, asserted that the Njuri Ncheke are directly involved in conservation initiatives to protect fragile ecosystems such as wetlands and forests through tree planting and championing sustainable agricultural practices.

KSU’s Climate-U affiliate researcher, Prof. Anakalo Shitandi, alluded that their study recommends that HEIs and policymakers use local language to disseminate climate change knowledge to communities. Furthermore, KSU’s Dr. George Ogendi demonstrated the use of a top-lit updraft (TLUD) gasifier, a cleaner stove for burning solid biomass. He pointed out that the micro gasifier cookstove produces less emissions and relies on a small amount of fuelwood to cook several meals due to effective combustion. The clean cookstove burns biomass to generate activated charcoal that can be ground to produce traditional medicine. Dr. Ogendi opined that through Climate-U, KSU has strengthened efforts to donate the TLUD cookstoves to communities in Kisii and Nyamira counties. The initiative plays a crucial role in enlightening the communities on sustainable practices of reducing high dependency on firewood that accelerates deforestation. Dr. Almas Mazigo, Climate-U affiliate researcher at DUCE, presented on the University-community engagement efforts of restoring mangroves and corals at Somanga, Kilwa District, Tanzania. He averred that through the partnership between DUCE and the coastal community, 17,735 mangroves and 6,918 corals were used to rehabilitate the marine ecosystem in Somanga area.

Climate-U East Africa Final Dissemination Event also gave an opportunity to community members to share insights on working with the universities and policymakers to co-design and co-implement the PAR interventions. Ms. Zipporah Matumbi, a member of KeMU’s Participatory Action Research Group (PARG), highlighted that Climate-U has been a reference point of ideal counter-hegemonic practices due to the inclusion of marginalised groups in a society in decision-making and designing practices that support the sustainable development agenda. Ms. Matumbi affirmed that community members participating in the PARGs have played a significant role in assisting the project in aligning key interventions with societal needs. Mr. Saidi Chande, a community member from Somanga in Kilwa District, Tanzania, who works closely with DUCE to restore corals and mangroves, espoused KSU’s qualitative case study recommendations on packaging environmental and climate change education using local knowledge that communities can easily comprehend.

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