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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go 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.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

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