Karatina University Hosts German Alumni Summer School, Kenya 2018
Introduction and Background
Karatina University was privileged to host the German Alumni Summer School Kenya 2018 under the theme ‘Higher Education, Science and Cooperation between German Alumni for Sustainable Development and Biodiversity Conservation’ organized within the frame work of the DAAD Alumni Programme for developing countries from Saturday 6th October 2018 to Sunday, 14th October 2018. It was a joint interdisciplinary programme led by Project Coordinator Prof. Martin Kappas from the Faculty of Geography, Department of Cartography, GIS and Remote Sensing, University of Gottingen, Germany. The Project Assistant Coordinator was Dr. Jolanta Slowik , Department of Conservation Biology, University of Gottingen, Germany. The local cooperation partner was Prof. P. Aloo-Obudho, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (ARSA) and Professor of Fisheries Ecology in the School of Natural Resources and Environmental Studies, Karatina University.
Highlights of the Summer School
Key note speeches during the Summer School were given by Prof. Geofrey Wahungu, Director General NEMA, Kenya. Prof. Wahungu shared with participants the process of the plastic ban in Kenya and indicated that the country has now achieved 85% ban. He appreciated the invitation to the Summer School because the theme is closely linked to the mandate of NEMA on environmental conservation. The second keynote speaker was Prof. Martin Kappas from Germany who echoed the importance of the Alumni Summer School which brought together people from various nationalities to discuss issues surrounding biodiversity conservation and climate change. In a speech read on his behalf, Dr. Helmut Blumbach, DAAD Regional Director confirmed the commitment of DAAD to alumni network activities. The Director General of Kenya Wildlife Services represented by Mr. Julius Kimani explained to the participants the relationship between wildlife and nature conservation including the inter-connectedness between the two.
Representing the Vice Chancellor, Karatina University, Prof. P. Aloo-Obudho, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (ARSA) affirmed that the University is on a trajectory path to be a research hub in the East African region with focus on quality higher education. Indeed, the choice of the University to host the Summer School 2018 is an attestation that the University has internationalized higher education research. The Green University Concept that the University recently embraced was discussed at length with resolution to take the concept to the next level. She emphasized that the Summer School could not have been held in a better institution than the green Karatina University. The Summer School was officially opened by Dr. Cyrille-Lazare Siewe, Kenya Country Director, UNEP. In his opening remarks, Dr.Siewe reiterated the importance of mitigating climate change to save humanity. He congratulated Karatina University for maintaining a clean green environment which is a great step towards being a green university in line with the initiative of Kenya Green University Network.
The Summer School was financed and supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) of the German Government through the framework of DAAD Alumni Programme for developing countries. The objectives of the Alumni Summer School were: promotion of sustainable development through higher education, biodiversity conservation and climate change, cooperation among DAAD Alumni in universities and research institutions, strengthening local and international linkages.
The Summer School 2018 provided a platform to researchers, academicians and practitioners drawn from different countries including Germany, Indonesia, South Africa, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Senegal and Burundi. They shared their knowledge and experiences from diverse disciplines ranging from natural resources conservation , humanities and social sciences with an interdisciplinary approach.
The Summer School interrogated core areas of focus from a multidisciplinary approach including Sustainable Development, Climate Change, Global Partnership in Research and Education, Biodiversity Conservation and Poverty Eradication. The expected outcomes of the activity include research collaboration and international programmes.
The excursion tours included participants visiting UNEP Headquarters in Gigiri, Nairobi to familiarize themselves with the agency’s activities on global environmental matters and policy. The team also toured local tourist attraction sites including Kahuru Falls, Kariba Mau Mau Caves and Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia. The team also delighted in visiting Karatina University Botanical Garden, the tea plantations and they also had an opportunity in mentoring groups of First and Fourth year students.