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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

Kenya Partnership Picture A
Participants in the project workshop held at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute headquarters February 17-20, 2014 (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

Kenya Partnership Picture B
An example of a Kenyan fish farm (Photo courtesy Dr. Maina)

Dr. Maina and her colleagues held a workshop at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute headquarters February 17-20, 2014, to train students and researchers in participatory action research (PAR) techniques. The 21 participants, representing such institutions the University of Nairobi, the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute, and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, had physical and biological science backgrounds and knowledge of quantitative research methods, but little expertise in qualitative research methods. After the workshop, most participants said the knowledge would help them to work with stakeholders in their research. They felt that follow-up was needed, however, and the project team is going to take up this issue in meetings with stakeholders during the summer of 2014.
Two study activities commenced in the first quarter of 2014. One is a baseline survey to establish the main factors that influence fish farming. The project team designed an experiment to evaluate various diets for catfish containing different levels of protein and using locally-sourced ingredients. The team also carried out an exercise to determine the optimal balance between quality and price of fish feed. Results will be disseminated to farmers in the project area by means of women’s and youth groups.
The other study activity evaluated the factors influencing the quality of farmed fish. In Kenyan agricultural areas, fish are farmed in close proximity to land used for grains, flowers, and other plants. Most are grown using various herbicides, pesticides, and chemicals that may be released into the farmed fish habitat. This study will assess the pollutants in the natural water bodies, fish ponds, and farmed fish. Closely related is the issue of parasites that influence the quality of farmed fish. The two students working on this study have already mapped out the study area in terms of prevailing agricultural and industrial activities.
Future plans include the ongoing evaluation of study results. The farmed fish study group will collect fish and water samples for chemical analysis. The catfish feeding trials should be completed by the end of June 2014. Other baseline studies will be ongoing. Meanwhile, the project team will be collaborating with students to plan summer stakeholder meetings.
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