Friday, 30 June 2017

Jacque & Teresa PhD defenses at University of Bordeaux, France

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”.

ESDA-SUD holds a planning meeting at the University of Nairobi

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.

Geography Students Society (UNGSS) participates in the World Wetlands day

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.

McGill University students’ visit to the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies

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.

Geography Students Society (UNGSS) Engaging Towards Environmental Protection Efforts

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.

Geography Staff and Student in Germany for the 2017 Eager Learn Summer School

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.

Sharing Knowledge during the 2017 Nairobi Innovation Week

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.

“Biodiversifying” Department of Geography & Environmental Studies exposure in an International Experiential SLUSE Field Course

The Department of Geography & Environmental Studies Masters students in Biodiversity and Natural Resources Management participated in the 2017 Experiential Sustainable Land Use (SLUSE) field course. The course, which provides students with a practical research approach, was organized by the University of Nairobi’s Wangari Mathaai Institute in collaboration with University of Copenhagen and University of Roskilde, Denmark. The field course took place in Kibugu Location, Kiambu County between 2nd and 13th of March 2017. The students were supervised by the following University of Nairobi Faculty members: Prof. H.M. Mutembei, Dr. J. Mutune, Mr. A Nunow Abdi (Wangari Maathai Institute), Dr. T. Thenya (Department of Geography & Environmental Studies), Dr. K. Kiemo (Department of Sociology and Social Work), Dr. C. Onyango, Dr M. Muiru (Department of Plant Science and Crop Protection) and Dr. C. Kunyanga (Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Technology). The supervisors from the University of Copenhagen and Roskilde University were Prof. Christian Pilegaard Hansen and Prof. Ebbe Prag, respectively. The course was attended by a total of 34 students of which 22 were international students from both University of Copenhagen and Roskilde University and 12 from the University of Nairobi, Wangari Maathai Institute and Department of Geography & Environmental Studies
Students in crop farming technology practice in tea plucking
Students in a discussion group in one of the homestead after embarking from field work
Students from Copenhagen University, Nairobi University and. Local guides during Community During the feedback session at Kathakwa primary school
Students working on the livestock thematic from University of Nairobi and Copenhagen University during community feedback meeting with local hosting families

Dr. Sam Owuor on a “Social Cartography” Tour of Brazil

Dr. Sam Owuor of the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies visited Brazil (18thMarch to 7th April 2017) under the “Social Cartography Project and Technical Training of Researchers and Social Movements in Kenya and Brazil” funded by the Ford Foundation. He travelled to Brazil with staff from Kenya Land Alliance (Hillary Kodieny and Johanna Wanjala). The tour involved sharing experiences with the New Social Cartography of the Amazon Project (PNCSA) linked to the Federal University of Amazonas (UFAM). The Kenyan team participated in several meetings on “consultation process about the digital archive regarding Quilombola communities of Brazil”. They visited Sao Luis (Maranhao), Manaus (Amazonas) and Belem (Para) where they participated in various activities: conferences and workshops, meeting and living with Quilombola communities, interacting with Faculty and students of universities participating in the New Social Cartography Project and attending cultural and environmental conservation events. It was a big learning experience – thanks to all our great hosts – under the coordination of Prof.  Alfredo Wagner Berno de Almeida (Coordinator of the New Social Cartography of the Amazon Project and Professor of Anthropology at the Federal University of Amazonas).

Department of Geography and Environmental Studies students volunteer at AIC Children’s Home

The Department of Geography and Environmental Studies led UoN students to plant trees at the AIC Children's Home and did general cleaning which involved washing utensils, beddings and environmental cleanup. They also had time to play, bond with the children and counsel them. The home is houses 75 children; most of whom suffer from cerebral palsy and broken limbs. According to the centre coordinator, Mr. Moses Onyango, the home has been able to help many young children recover from cerebral palsy through physiotherapy. “Up to 40% can go through the physiotherapy exercises and recover fully”, he said. He noted that cerebral palsy affects the backbone.
The center has a primary school section where the children who have recovered are given basic education. Upon completing their primary education, they are assisted to get into secondary schools. Some students have performed well and have joined various universities in the country and graduated with honors degrees. AIC Children’s home was started by two missionaries in 1979; Georgina Ohms from Scotland and Nancy Macroy from South Africa.  The center was started with an aim of providing food aid to abandoned children suffering from polio and has since incorporated abandoned children suffering from broken limbs and other ailments.
The Geography students were accompanied by Peace Ambassadors Kenya and Miss Greater Nairobi, Ms Sation Parmuat. Geography