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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 2 (2012 Deadline)

Strengthening institutional capacity for participatory action research in sustainable aquaculture

PI: Joyce Gichiku Maina (University of Nairobi)
U.S. Partner: Irene Kimaru (St. John Fisher College)
Project Dates: July 2013 to June 2016

2-219 Catching Fish
The team assists in harvesting local fish for examination (Photo courtesy Dr. Maina)

The overall objective of this project is 
to use the Action Research paradigm to develop, validate and disseminate new technologies to enhance development and sustainability of a vibrant fish farming sector in in Kenya. Four main objectives are involved. The first is to build capacity for Participatory Action Research among the selected graduate students and teaching staff in the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Nairobi and other participating institutions. Some of the students and staff will subsequently be used in carrying out research in fish farming in Kenya. The second objective is to do a baseline survey to establish the main socioeconomic, gender, and technological factors that influence fish farming. This will be done using a semi-structured questionnaire targeting the main actors in the farmed fish value chain. The third objective is to develop and validate models for integrating fish farming into crop and livestock farming. In this component of the project, models for efficient use of water for crop irrigation and rice farming and use of livestock manures as fertilizers for fish ponds will be evaluated. The fourth objective involves evaluating the environmental effects of fish farming on the water systems. This part of the research will be done in collaboration with the U.S. partner, leveraging her expertise in environmental chemistry. Water will be collected from fish ponds and adjacent water bodies and analyzed for chemical pollutants at different seasons of the year. Farmed fish will also be evaluated for their safety for human consumption by testing them for residual pesticides and other chemicals.
The project is expected to strengthen a core team of researchers and train graduate students in participatory action research. The project will also evaluate the reasons that led to failure of past fish farming projects that were mainly funded by development partners. This will be done for purposes of sustainability of this project and future projects. Appropriate exit strategies will be evaluated and documented and information will be shared with the relevant authorities. As for other development impacts, the project will continuously engage stakeholders in the fish aquaculture value chain, particularly focusing on women and youth, who have been disadvantages in the allocation of resources in the past. The formation of a multi-stakeholder platform will be facilitated so that participants can more easily share information and experiences useful for upgrading the value chain. New linkages will be also be created in the region by helping selected stakeholders to take part in regional initiatives.
Summary of Recent Activities

2-219 Water Assessment
Dr. Maina and Paul Wesonga (PhD student) assessing water levels in a fish pond (Photo courtesy Dr. Maina)

In January, the project team held a two day workshop for all students whose projects are funded under the PEER project, their supervisors, and collaborators from other institutions. The workshop was held on January 18 and 19 at the College of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences, University of Nairobi. The aim of the workshop was to evaluate and review the status of ongoing activities in the project and to give students a briefing of financial requirements and their obligations to do prompt and proper financial accounting for funds advanced them for their projects.

The team completed their sampling of fish for parasites, pathology and chemical residues, and water quality. This was done in Nyeri County between February 22 and 25 and is the third sampling to assess the seasonal variation in fish parasites and water quality. A total of 109 fish samples were purchased from ten fish farmers for this assessment. The team also measured the genetic variability of African catfish in wild and farmed populations with the aim of improving brood stock populations in fish hatcheries country-wide. During the first part of the year, farmed fish samples were sampled from Athi River, Kiambu, and Meru Counties, while wild fish were sampled from Lake Naivasha. Interviews were held with hatchery managers and morphometric measurements evaluated. Lastly, the team completed a study into value chain factors that influence the sustainability of fish projects in Kenya. The study is part of the research work being conducted by PhD student Paul Wesonga in Makueni County.

The coming months will be busy for the project. The University will be closed for most of the regular students and the project team will take this opportunity to do most of the activities scheduled for this year. They will establish a network and collaboration between this project and the Kenya Women Holdings, so that they may help farmers with funds, particularly in the area of marketing. Based on the work the team has done, they were approached by the Kenya Women Holdings in Kenya to do a study on fish marketing and identify the opportunities and constraints that exist for women. They will work with stake-holders and identify the areas where they can be funded to open up new local, regional and export markets for farmed fish. It will involve field surveys in four counties, analysis of feeds and fish samples, and meetings with stake-holders.
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