Laikipia University 5th Biennial International Conference

Laikipia University 5th Biennial Conference was held on Wednesday, 24th May, 2023 to Friday, 26th May, 2023 at Laikipia University Main Campus. The theme of the conference was Climate Change Conversation: From Realities to Transformative Actions. The three-day Conference was graced by Dr. Frank Ndakala, PhD on behalf of the Principal Secretary, State Department for University Education and Research, Dr. Beatrice Muganda Inyangala among other dignitaries.

The occasion was also graced by Laikipia University Vice Chancellor Prof. Kibett Rotich, Ag. Deputy Vice Chancellor Academics Research and Student Affairs, Prof. Jacinta Ndambuki, Director Research Human Rights and Gender Prof. James Ogolla, Delegates, Members of the University Management Board, Members of the Senate, Conference Organizers, Staff and Students.  Laikipia University International Conference is held after every two years and this year it attracted 83 research presenters from within and outside Kenya including Nigeria, Denmark, United States of America, Netherlands and many others.

Laikipia University is at the forefront in combating Climate Change by engaging in tree planting in the University, within the community especially in primary and secondary schools, establishment of botanical gardens and has plans to rehabilitate ‘Lake Chacha’, a beautiful water body within the University. It was also noted that the Conference took into account Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) as per the national agendas in Climatic Change Action. The Conference theme also goes hand in hand with Research and Innovation forum which was held in March in the University and delegates from various parts of the world presented during the conference, both physically and online.

On the second day the Delegates had interactive sessions and presented papers on various sub-themes in relation to climate change action including; Agriculture Food Systems; Environmental Conservation; Indigenous Knowledge and Education for Sustainable Development; Sustainable Energy; Water Health, Sanitation and Safety; Gender and Human Rights; Science, Technology and Innovation; Communication, Creative Solutions, Literature and Artificial Intelligence; Civil Society, Ethical and Moral Issues; Policy , Devolution and Governance ; Economics, Business and Management.

The day’s keynote address was presented by Dr. Katrine Soma, PhD, Senior Researcher at Wageningen University and Research, Netherlands; and Ms. Nancy Mudenyo Hunt, CEO - NASIO Trust Organisation, Kenya on the sub theme: Water, Health, Sanitation and Safety and the focus was on Spirulina as an agent of change in Rural Urban Food Systems. Spirulina is a plant, a type of blue-green algae that grows both in salty and fresh water and has a lot of nutritional significance to the human body. In addition to that it also come along with economic significance. The case study of the research was highlighted and still practiced in Nyeri, Kibera, Kakamega, Kisumu/Busia, Solio and Sagana in Laikipia.

World Health Organization (WHO) facts and figures shows that inadequate water is the leading cause of issues relating to hygiene, health and safety. With regard to Spirulina, the team were able to establish fish farming in Nyeri and its market was in Kibera. Spirulina is used as food for fish as well, it can also be consumed in different forms including capsules. The nutritional benefits of it being that Spirulina is rich in proteins, copper, potassium, manganese, zinc and calcium. It also helps in fighting anaemia, blood pressure, arthritis and it acts as a detoxificant. It is as such an important factor that helps in combating challenges facing health, sanitation and Safety as well as Economic crisis by reducing unemployment.

On the last day of the conference, the keynote address was on Agricultural Food Systems and Climate Change. It was presented by Prof. Bockline Omedo Bebe, PhD, Professor of Livestock Production Systems and Former Ag. Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension, Egerton University-Kenya.

The discussion was on how to address the issue of Food Security systems with regard to changing climatic situations. It was noted that the current Global Dialogue was aimed at reducing Global Warming and limiting Greenhouse Gases (GHGS) emissions so as to combat the adverse effects of climate change. Global Food Summits held are advocating for Food Systems that take into account Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), mobilize financial support and uphold Food Systems agenda.

 According to the First Global Stock take (GST) during the United Nations Food Security (UN FS) Summit 2021, with failing food systems there is increased risk of exceeding planetary boundaries with the world heading beyond a dangerous zone called ‘Code Red for Humanity’. This means the Earth is getting so hot that temperatures in about a decade will probably blow past a level of warming and this in return will lead to more glacial melt due to global warming. Countries also will be unable to feed their increasing populations as there will be a challenge with unpredictable weather patterns.

As such, there is urgent need to take possible actions to ameliorate the environment, health, and diet against the perilous effects of adverse climatic changes. Putting measures in place to fix the increasing effects of carbon like tapping the green energy, a process called carbon trading. It also involves going for environmental friendly alternatives like electric cars and establishing solar farms. It is also our responsibility as individuals, organizations and the world at large to do the necessary to promote and practice reliable, affordable and efficient Food Systems to advocate for Positive climate change.

During the conference period, exhibitions were also held at Vision 2030 Hall with Laikipia University’s Directorate of Resource Mobilization and Investment, NASIO Trust Organization and L’arche Kenya being at the forefront. It is worth noting also that delegates and participants also had an exclusive excursion to Subukia Great Rift Valley View point and thereafter an evening cocktail. As the forum halted, Prof. Felicia Arudo Yieke urged delegates that there was need for quality papers if so that they could be considered for publishing. Prof. Ogolla gave the closing remarks and the conference was officially closed by Dr. Charity Chemnjor, on behalf of the Ag. Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration Finance and Planning), Prof. Nicholas Irungu Kamau. She urged everyone to be an ambassador of environmental conservation in order to combat climate change following the example of Prof. Wangari Maathai’s hummingbird story.

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