News / Africa

Kenyan University Offers Degree Programs on Climate Change

Reuben Kyama

Changing climate conditions are making it harder for people in East Africa, most of whom grow food or raise livestock, to survive.

Rainy seasons are changing, destructive floods and temperatures have risen, and the soils have become drier than in recent years. Among the hardest hit are arid and semi-arid regions, small islands and the coastal strips.

Environmental experts say it’s important for the people of the region to learn to adapt.

In an effort to help farmers, the University of Nairobi is now offering a masters and a doctorate in climate change –  joining Kenyatta University as one of a few East African institutions of higher learning to offer advanced degrees on the topic.

According to Professor Shem Wandiga, acting chairman of the newly-established Institute for Climate Change and Adaptation, the university is proud to introduce the new programs.

"We found that there were a lot of gaps – nine gaps or areas – which needed tackling," he explained. "For these reasons, we are putting all of these into a course which will address basically the gaps that are in Africa, ranging from agriculture and food security to human dimensions of climate change, and areas of policy gaps and gender gaps."

Professor Wandiga said the institute will offer Master’s courses in Climate Change and Adaptation beginning September. He said that the university board approved the degree program last December after realizing that climate change is a devastating reality in Africa.

The program will focus on governance, case studies and the benefits of mitigation.

"We want to spend our energy and efforts on creating resilience [for] people who are living in these areas and may have experienced the impact of climate change," said Wandinga. "Our research and activities will be trying to help such people to develop survival and adaptation systems. We are going to look at both the adaptation as well as the mitigation. As a university, we also have to look at the science."
                                  
University officials said the course will be open to students from all disciplines, since the issue of climate change cuts across all sectors. Many students are already applying for the program that will offer 30 scholarships, 15 each for master’s and PhD levels.

But Dr. Joseph Ininda, acting Head of the Department of Meteorology at the University of Nairobi, said his department had already begun offering post-graduate courses on the topic.

"We’ve a diversity of students. Some are working; others have just finished their first degree," he said. "There’s potential in almost all sectors that require these kinds of applications. There are those who will use the training indirectly and those who will apply the skills in their places of work. We see it as capacity building on issues of climate change."

So far, he said, the program had attracted about 50 students, saying that the number was expected to increase.

Josephine Kirui works with East Africa Dairy Development Project, an initiative of small-scale farmers supported by Heifer International, and has enrolled for a Master’s of Science degree in Climate Change.

"I wanted to understand what are the real issues," she said, "because small-scale farmers are faced with a lot of problems… What I am learning in this course is that there were a lot of things that I didn’t know about climate change, but now I’m getting to understand the science behind it."

Another student, Ireri Waithavu, said he feels the same way.

"Initially, I wanted to do environmental science," he said, "but when I looked at it, it was too complicated, and I decided to narrow it down to something much simpler – that is straightforward. My idea was on climate change."So, when I heard the university had started the course, I was very excited, and I thought I could go learn more... and distinguish between climate change and weather change."

According to climate change experts, the global temperature rise must be limited urgently to avoid serious impact on African agricultural production, given that 80 percent of all Africans rely on rain-fed agriculture for a living.

[Editors Note:  An earlier version of this story erroneously stated that the University of Nairobi was the only institution of higher learning in East Africa to offer an advanced degree in climate change. At least one other university, Nairobi's Kenyatta University, also offers a Masters of Environmental Studies (Climate Change and Sustainability)].

Listen to report on U. Nairobi degree program on climate change.
Listen to report on U. Nairobi degree program on climate change.i
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: mememine69 from: Toronto
August 28, 2012 4:14 PM
HELP SAVE THE CLIMATE CHANGE MOVEMENT AND CO2 MITIGATION : Urge the scientists to say it WILL happen, not just MIGHT and COULD and LIKELY will happen. The planet is at risk! Contact a scientist and demand action NOW!
In Response

by: Gitau Davis from: Kenyatta University
August 31, 2012 8:42 AM
Dear Reuben,
This Programme rolled out in Kenyatta University in April 2010 for Masters Students.Since then the University has continued to admit more students every year. I was Lucky to have been among the first to enroll for a Masters in Climate Change and Sustainability in KU. Please correct your records. UoN is not the first in the continent.Kudos KU.
In Response

by: DAVIS GITAU from: NYAHURURU
August 31, 2012 8:31 AM
I am really surprised to read that,UoN is starting a programme on Climate Change for Masters and Doctorate degrees in September 2012 and it is the first in the African Continent. Kenyatta University started this programme in 2010 and I am among the first students who enrolled for a Master in climate channge in April 2010. Please correct your records.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More