Memorial has received close to $1 million in funding to partner with a university in East Africa to develop research and training programs to help sustain that region’s aquatic resources.
Memorial will collaborate with Moi University in Kenya to address the relationships between rural poverty reduction and aquatic ecosystem management. A key objective of the project will be to establish and implement outreach education programs to assist the country’s national Department of Fisheries, as well as local communities, get a better understanding of sustainable resource management, aquatic environments and related gender issues.
The project was co-operatively developed by Memorial’s International Centre and the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Science at Moi University. It will be managed by the International Centre and will begin this month, continuing until July 2012.
“Improving knowledge of ecosystem structure and management practices helps residents sustain resources and build sustainable livelihoods,” said Dr. Anthony Dickinson, director of the International Centre. “This is particularly necessary in sub-Saharan Africa where many agricultural ecosystems, the primary food and income generators, have been degraded by natural or human-induced influences.”
Memorial and Moi researchers as well as graduate students will examine specific sectors of Kenya’s fisheries, including lungfish in Lake Baringo in the country’s northern region, and the coral reef fisheries on the Western Indian Ocean coast. They’ll also study small-scale aquaculture developments in selected reservoirs, and the development and use of fish ponds as teaching and training tools in a girl’s school in Nairobi.
In addition, the extensive project will look at ways to diversify economic livelihoods which decrease the stress on exhausted species and improve the nutrition of families. Gender issues such as access to an equal share of resources and management will be central. The project will also enhance the capacity of Moi University to integrate gender issues into its structure and research.
The project is being implemented through the Tier 2 University Partnerships in Co-operation and Development program of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada with funding from the Canadian International Development Agency. Memorial was the only university in Atlantic Canada to secure funding in this competition.
Dr. Dickinson will co-ordinate and work with colleagues from around Memorial on the project, including Dr. George Rose, professor of Biology and chair of Fisheries Conservation at the Marine Institute, Dr. Marilyn Porter, Sociology, and retired Biology professors Drs. John Green and Thakor Patel. Colleen Clarke, projects administrator with the International Centre, will provide administrative and fiscal management. And Paul MacLeod, who previously worked with Memorial’s now defunct Extension Services will provide development communications expertise through his own company.
Dr. Dickinson said that the project provides enormous scope for addressing a variety of resource management issues, and in the long term should have a positive impact on the programs and policies which Kenya has in place to manage its aquatic resources.
“It’ll help Kenya develop its capacity to respond to food security issues by directly improving those institutional skills and programs of Moi University, which are needed to produce the graduates who will eventually be responsible for co-managing aquatic resources with communities” he said.
The project builds on a previous CIDA-funded partnership between Memorial and Moi which helped establish that university’s Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture (now the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Science), the first such specialist department in East Africa. Several of its faculty obtained their PhDs and master of science degrees from Memorial as a result of the project and from a CIDA-funded Marine Science Scholarship program which was also developed and run by the International Centre.
This new project also complements a similar community-oriented resources management Tier 2 between Memorial and the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, also run by the International Centre, and fisheries /aquaculture and distance education initiatives in Malawi, Mozambique and Kenya run by MI International.