Madam Jacqueline Walubwa and Madam Teresa Mbatia successfully defended their PhD theses (yes, with Honours) at the University of Bordeaux Montaigne, France on 13th and 14th December 2016, respectively. The two members of staff at the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies were supervised by Prof. Bernard Calas of the University of Bordeaux (as Director) and Dr. Samuel Owuor of the University of Nairobi (as Co-Director). The Jury of the two PhD defenses comprised Prof. Christian Thibon (Universite Pau Pays, France), Prof. Elias Ayiemba (University of Nairobi, Kenya), Prof. Bernard Charlery (University of Toulouse, France), Dr. Jean Fabien Steck (University of Paris Nanterre, France), Prof. Bernard Calas and Dr. Samuel Owuor. The Presidents of the Jury were Prof Ayiemba (for Jaqueline) and Prof. Thibon (for Teresa). Jacqueline’s thesis was on “Recognition of informal norms in creating resilient water management structures: The case of Soweto East, Nairobi”, while Teresa’s thesis was on “Social-political analysis of urban green spaces in Nairobi: A critical inquiry into outcomes of non-state actors interventions in the management and conservation of urban protected areas”.
On December 20, 2016, the University of Nairobi hosted the Education for Sustainable Development in Africa – Sustainable Urban Development (ESDA-SUD) graduate program planning meeting that brought together the University of Nairobi and Kenyatta University ESDA members. Also participating in the meeting were the ESDA-SUD progam coordinators, the Next Generation Researchers (NGR) coordinators, and the Africa Youth Entrepreneurship Initiative (AYES) lead members from the two Universities as well as the ESDA Secretariat. The UoN’s MSc degree program in Sustainable Urban Development (MSc-SUD) is being hosted and implemented at the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies. The meeting was opened by the Chair of the ESDA Consortium and the University of Nairobi Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Peter Mbithi, who pointed out that the ESDA’s vision of producing experts and professionals is critical in driving the African sustainable development agenda, as enshrined in the 2030 SDGs and AU’s Agenda 2063. He further lauded each member’s contributions to taking the ESDA progams forward, and for the Secretariats efforts in keeping the ESDA family united.
On February 2, 2017, the University of Nairobi Geography Students Society (2016) participated in the World Wetlands Day. The World Wetlands Day is celebrated internationally each year on 2 February. It marks the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) in Ramsar, Iran, on 2 February 1971.
The day is celebrated by a series of activities aimed at raising public awareness of wetlands values and benefits, as well as promoting the conservation and wise use of wetlands. The organizations that attended this year’s celebrations in Kenya include Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, NEMA, Safaricom, Kenya Forest Service, CANCO, Wetlands International, Kenya Wildlife Service, KUNEC, KIUESA/UoN, KENWEB, WCK, KLB, EAWLS, National Museums of Kenya, Nature Kenya and County governments, among others.
On Tuesday 17th January 2017, a group of 20 students from McGill University in Montreal Canada made their traditional one-day annual visit to the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies as part of the Canadian Field Studies in Africa (CFSIA) study abroad program in East Africa which usually takes them through Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Zanzibar. The group was headed by Professor Tim Johns from the School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition at McGill University. The group was received by the Chairman, Dr. Samuel Owuor, Dr. Francis Mwaura, Kivuti Karingi and representatives of the UoN Geography & Environment Students Society. Mr. Karingi gave an orientation lecture on the City of Nairobi after which the Canadian students undertook their traditional joint tour of the city together with the UoN students.
There is a lot of false information shared on WhatsApp and other social platforms that have created false alarm. It is against this backdrop that Safaricom in partnership with the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and Communications Authority of Kenya launched the Electro Magnetic Frequency (EMF) booklet titled ‘The answer is in your hands’ at the Villa Rosa Kempinski on February 8th. This function was attended by members of the University of Nairobi Geography Students Society (UNGSS). Surveys conducted by WHO place the radiation emitted by base transceiver stations at between 0.002% and 0.2% which are a thousand times lower than the exposure required to cause health threats. This, therefore, makes living near base stations absolutely safe. Speaking at the launch, Bob Collymore emphasized on its commitment to ensuring that its activities do not harm the public and that the expansion to 3G and 4G networks would not harm the environment, assuring the public that there would not be a significant increase in base stations as the existing ones had the capacity to support the expansion. The booklet also addressed frequently raised concerns such as why our phones feel warm on our ears during a call. It dismissed the common notion that it is caused by the emission of radio waves by educating the public that it is in fact caused by the warming up of batteries and poor air circulation around the ear.
Dr. Parita Shah and Ms Rebecca Oloo (MA student) of the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies are among staff and students participating in this years’ Eagerlearn Summer School (March+ 2017) that is taking place at Humboldt University, Germany. Other participants are from Karatina University (Kenya), Dar es Salaam University (Tanzania) and the organizers Humboldt University. The Faculty staff from Kenya and Tanzania was in Germany for a week while the students will stay for a semester. We wish all the students the best in their exchange programme.
Dr. Sam Owuor of the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies was one of the panelists at a “Knowledge Café on Research and Innovation” during the 2017 Nairobi Innovation Week (6th to 13th March). The Knowledge Café, hosted by University of Nairobi’s Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research, Production and Extension, brought together researchers, students and other guests who participated in a very stimulating discussion on research and innovation. Dr. Owuor also participated in another side event on “Education for Sustainable Development” and a panelist. The Nairobi Innovation Week brings together partners from government, private sector, development partners and research centres with an aim of providing a platform for show-casing and encouraging innovation over and above networking and sharing knowledge.