Strathmore University hosted a half-day workshop to launch the FEWA Collaboration Network and to explore what other organizations are undertaking in the food-energy-water nexus to identify research gaps and opportunities that will foster further collaborations among the engaged institutions.
Novel irrigation methods in arid and semi-arid regions
The University, in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh through grant funds under the Newton Institutional Links Program funded by the British Council have been implementing a research project for the past one year titled “Enhanced Food Security and Afforestation through Novel Approaches to Irrigation”. The project had the objectives of investigating the novel methods for irrigation in the arid and semi-arid regions of Kenya, developing a prototype of a solar thermal fresh water generator that can be used to desalinate brackish water and identifying failure causes of existing reverse osmosis desalination systems in the country. FEWA Collaboration Network was formed to facilitate sustainability of future research collaborations between the two research institutions to address all research works in food, energy and water nexus.
In attendance at the workshop were a team of researchers: Sarah Odera, Director, Strathmore Energy Research Centre (SERC), Dr. Dimitri Mignard representing the University of Edinburgh, and Dr. Michael Wawire and Dr. Saoke Churchill, both from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Techonology (JKUAT). Other key industry practitioners in the sector from both private sector and non-governmental organizations included representatives from Riara University, Kenya Water Institute (KEWI), and Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), EED Advisory ltd, Practional Action Kenya, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Kenya and Shabaha Engineering ltd among others.
Need for baseline research
Part of the workshop activities facilitated discussions with the aim of identifying the network themes and future activities, a process that was led by Dr. Dimitri and Sarah Odera. The discussions revolved around awareness, technology adoption and affordability, sustainable harvesting of biomass as well as proper utilization of agricultural and animal wastes to provide alternatives sources of energy. The participants wholly agreed that there is a need for baseline research to acquire reliable data on existing consumer awareness, reliability of distribution channels of the different technologies in the sector, energy needs of the small-scale farmers, and the major challenges being encountered.
In efforts to address these challenges and fill the current research gaps, participants agreed to collaborate in sharing all relevant publications, articles and research papers that would provide information on the areas discussed during the workshop. Participants outlined the need for a field survey in various parts of the country to get a clear picture of issues affecting these communities. This would eventually lead to a conclusive report and recommendations for sustainable approaches to solve the issues in the food, energy and water nexus. “I am very grateful to have experts share their personal experiences and knowledge in food, energy and water nexus. They have good ideas which we can use to move forward,” said Dr. Mignard, University of Edinburgh.
This article was written by: Patrick Mwanzia Kioko.
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