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African Drylands Institute for Sustainability
College of Agriculture and Veterinary Science
University of Nairobi
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CENTER FOR SUSTAINABLE DRYLAND ECOSYSTEMS AND SOCIETIES HOSTS THE FIRST DRYLANDCOMMUNITY VOICES WORKSHOP

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The Centre for Sustainable Dryland Ecosystems and Societies (CSDES) recently held a very successful 3 days’ workshop at the African Advanced Level Telecommunication Institute (AFRALTI) in Nairobi. The workshop whose theme was “Dryland Community Voices: Setting a Joint Agenda in Higher Education and Development from the Ground Up”, aimed at discussing the role of higher education for development especially with respect to capacity building in drylands. Other objectives of the workshop included; to highlight the importance of devolution and governance issues with reference to optimizing opportunities for sustainable pastoral and agro-pastoral livelihoods in dryland areas, building consensus on a set of first actions that the Centre could prioritize and to facilitate a critique from the dryland communities about current development projects and governance policy with a view to improve on past efforts and enhance sustainability of dryland ecosystems and societies.

The workshop was officially opened by Prof. Agnes Mwang’ombe, Principal, College of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences (CAVS). The Principal observed that there was an opportunity to transform higher education in the Drylands of Africa through collaborative work between the universities, communities and other partners. She acknowledged the support given by US Agency for International Development (USAID), Higher Education for Development (HED), RUFORUM, University of Nairobi (UoN) and Colorado State University (CSU) in making the initiative a reality.   She underscored the importance of partnerships especially in the face of climate change, food insecurity, and serious conflicts over resources and increased vulnerability in the dryland. Prof. Mwang’ombe then threw a word of caution that all involved should not let politics mar their good intentions and resolution to improve the development agenda of drylands.

Dr. Reid, PI Colorado State University, in giving her opening remarks sought to demystify some the myths that people have about pastoralists and arid and semi-arid lands (ASALS). She emphasized that increased access to these lands is paramount and that a bottom-up approach is the only way the development of ASALS and the improvement of pastoral livelihoods can be achieved. Dr. David Nkedianye, the Deputy coordinator for the Centre gave a talk on Devolution, Governance and Management of Natural Resources in the drylands from which it became clear that with the new county system, pastoralists for the first time had an opportunity to set their own development agenda at least at the county and had the leeway to drive it to implementation by themselves. In light of this it would pay a lot of dividend to look at what had and had not worked in the past and what needs to be done. The workshop provided a good platform that those community voices in attendance used to ventilate problems that they faced in their work for pastoralist

 

They wondered who listens when they talk! Have pastoralists been left behind by design or default? How do the military and other armed forces that train in pastoral lands benefit them? Why are refugees settled on pastoral lands and what is the International convention on Refugees doing? What does the UN Resolution on marginalized communities say and is the government aware of this document? How will the historical injustices done to pastoralists be addressed? Questions were asked as to how educated pastoralists will be utilized in developing the drylands even as the community voices unanimously agreed that education is the key to bringing positive change to pastoralists, adding strength to Prof. Gufu Oba’s voice that education liberates, and liberates in every aspect of life. The community voices said that the Centre’s commitment to its objective will partially but strongly be judged to it being able to sponsor some pastoralist students to tertiary institutions of learning in the next 18 months. Other deliverables that they desire the Centre to achieve in the same period of time were outreaches to secondary schools to sensitize them on dryland development issues and a baseline survey in dryland needs for future action.     

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COMMUNITY VOICES WORKSHOP REPORT.pdf1.6 MB

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