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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

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 socialeconomic, 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

 Kenya Partnership Picture A
Participants in the project inception workship held at the Kryptonite Hotel in Embu, December 4-5, 2013 (Photo courtesy Dr. Maina)

Since the inception of the project in October 2013, Dr. Maina added two PhD students and one master’s student to her group as research assistants. A meeting was held with the new recruits, project collaborators, and staff so that the research team could bond and have a common understanding of the project and its activities. At the meeting, the PI presented the long-term work plan. The main focus of the project involves using participatory action research (PAR) to meet the project objective, which is facilitating development, commercialization, and sustainability of the fish farming sector in Kenya. The research team discussed the next step, which is to do a baseline survey of local populations to establish socioeconomic, gender-based, and technological factors affecting fish farming. They have selected the counties of Nyeri, Makueni, and Kisumu as study locations.
The training of PAR trainers was scheduled for the third week of February 2014 at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute. Participants included researchers from the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI), University of Nairobi academic staff and graduate students, and one researcher from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Development and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute. Site visits and planning for PAR training are to take place in March 2014, with an eye towards having the actual training taking place in June. That way, the Makueni County baseline survey can start by July 2014, with surveys in the other two counties to follow.
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