Egerton University has a strategic objective of increasing utilization of research findings through extension and outreach activities. Through extension activities, the University creates opportunities for interactive sharing of research-based knowledge, information, technologies and innovations with individuals, groups, communities or organizations for improving work efficiency, productivity, incomes, environmental health and living standards. Outreach activities are where the university offers community services using knowledge, technology or products. The extension and outreach activities so undertaken are those that respond to community felt needs with special focus on marginalised groups including the youth, women and physically challenged among others. Implementation of extension and outreach activities are guided by the Extension and Outreach Policy which provides the framework for improving efficiency and effectiveness of providing extension and outreach services.
Several approaches are adopted in undertaking extension and outreach activities, including:
b) Development of extension information materials
c) Consultations, Focused group discussions with the communities
d) ICT applications, mass and print media
e) Agricultural knowledge centres
f) Exhibitions, Shows and Field days
Some of the activities undertaken include: Water and Soil conservation, Dairy value addition, Bee Keeping and honey processing, Mushroom production, Composite manure making, Solid waste management, Environmental conservation education and re-forestation projects.
Livestock Systems and Climate Change Adaptation Projects
Projects: Building adaptive capacity to and mitigation of climate change
Already observed and projected climate change and variability associated with increased temperature and heat stress, changed rainfall patterns, more frequent and prolonged droughts, intense flooding, windstorms and disease outbreaks in Kenya are posing new unprecedented risks to food and farming. Semi-arid and coastal ecosystems and livestock production in smallholder and pastoral systems are the most vulnerable to impacts of the changing and variable climate. Egerton University is implementing several research projects aimed at building adaptive capacity in these ecosystems and production systems with a focus on promoting climate-smart agriculture. The projects implemented are designed to contribute to sustainable increase in productivity, food security and incomes; resilience to climate change; reduction and/or removal of greenhouse gas emissions.
Several projects are designed for building adaptive capacity. One such project was implemented in Baringo County to increase access to information and support services related to climate change for communities vulnerable to recurring droughts, heat stress and disease outbreaks. Climate information and support services provide Early Warning Systems (EAS) and increases awareness for building the capacity and disaster preparedness to a changing climate.
The knowledge output of this project was that using a combination of extension agents, radio and local administration is more effective for disseminating climate information and support services to vulnerable communities in marginal areas. This has policy implication that building capacity of extension service in interpretation of weather data will enable them effectively disseminate climate information and support services to vulnerable communities.
Another project has evaluated vulnerability of Bos-taurus dairy genotypes under diverse production environments in Kenya to climate variability and change and found Friesian cattle the most vulnerable breed to water, feed and disease climate-induced stresses. The implication of this finding is that farmers utilising Friesian cattle breed have to adopt climate-smart technologies to secure productivity of their livestock asset.
Egerton is implementing another climate change adaptation project with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation designed to empower pastoral and farming communities with climate change adaptation strategies and technologies to support engagement in sustainable livelihoods. The project is implemented in five sites within the agro-ecosystems projected hotspots of climate change in Kenya. The sites are in the counties of Bungoma, Nakuru, Mbeere, Kajiado and Kilifi, selected to represent mixed farming and pastoral livestock systems. The objectives of the project are to: evaluate indigenous adaptation strategies and identify the best bets; evaluate uptake of climate-smart technologies; build adaptive capacity of extension providers, agro-dealers, and farmers; and strengthen community outreach actions on climate change adaptation strategies.
Another climate change adaptation project funded by the African Climate Change Fellowship Program (ACCFP) was implemented in semi-arid counties of Marsabit and Kajiado. The project title: Climate change, genetics of adaptation and livestock production under low-input systems was designed to answer the question of how to mitigate the effect of Climate Change on pastoral communities whose livelihoods depend on livestock assets. This was a multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder involvement and participatory field research with pastoral communities, use of nucleus breeding schemes in villages to exploit within breed genetic variation in adaptive and functional traits in indigenous breeds of small ruminants. The outcomes of the research included comprehensive information on genetics of adaptation and design adaptation models for livestock production under severe climate hazards.
A recently launched climate change adaptation project is focusing on building adaptive capacity to drought effects of vulnerable smallholder dairy systems in Lare and Elementaita regions in semi-arid lands experiencing recurring droughts. In these regions, smallholder dairy farmers face difficulties accessing sufficient water for optimal production and health of their dairy cattle. The outputs of the project will be improvement in planned adaptation to re-occurring droughts, especially on watering practices, on-farm and off-farm feed sourcing and disease incidence to sustain and stabilise herd production performance under exposure to recurring droughts.
Egerton University is also implementing the first regional innovation network in Africa that is scaling up cleantech innovations, identifying and analyzing existing innovations for climate change adaptation with the aim of scaling up technologies and linking East African SMEs to technology and business partners globally. This regional network is called The East African Innovation Centre Network (EACIN), which supported by the World Bank/InfoDev Climate Technology Program. EACIN is also undertaking capacity building for SMEs and innovators through engagement with key resource partners and the Kenya Climate Innovation Centre; active brokering of South-South technology transfer through a virtual platform and a network of partners, including potentially linking East African SMEs to technology and business partners globally. The activities EACIN is undertaking include:
· Grassroots-oriented research
· Support for local and international match-making
· Capacity building for all communities of learning and practice including policy makers, grassroots innovators, researchers and entrepreneurs
· Evidence-based policy analysis and advocacy
· Development and advocacy, information and awareness and Monitoring and evaluation.