Promoting Climate Smart Landscapes: Evidence, Gaps and Opportunities for Research.

Climate change affects all areas of life, including the way we produce food, our health, water resources, settlements, energy, the ecosystem, and the weather we experience. The impacts of climate change are often felt in terms of adverse consequences on human and ecological systems, due to loss of biodiversity, reduced agricultural productivity, declining water resources, geographical redistribution of pests and diseases, and extreme weather events.

To address these challenges, The Directorate of Research and Innovations and the College of Pure and Applied Sciences, JKUAT held a hybrid seminar on Climate Smart Landscapes: Evidence, Gaps, and Opportunities for Research on Wednesday 25 October 2023 at IPIC, JKUAT. The main focus of the seminar was to discuss the science and practice of Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA), Climate-Smart Land Management, Climate Change and Health, and Climate Information Systems; to explore gaps and opportunities for future research; and to highlight opportunities for action, including open collaborations for available funding opportunities.

In his opening remarks, Prof. George Thiongo, Principal, College of Pure and Applied Sciences (COPAS) encouraged the members present to combine efforts and work together to mitigate the challenges of climate change. “This is just but one of the first seminars we are organizing to tackle this issue. I encourage you to consolidate and come up with teams addressing issues of health, managing waste, agriculture, and energy.”

Dr. Shem Kuyah, Director Research and Innovations and other members from the JKUAT community follow along the proceedings during the Climate Smart Landscapes.
Dr. Shem Kuyah, Director Research and Innovations and other members from the JKUAT community follow along the proceedings during the Climate Smart Landscapes.

Addressing these challenges requires actions that increase the productivity of agro-ecological systems, reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, and enable adaptation to the current realities. Scientific evidence shows that climate-smart landscapes are effective for balancing the various interests related to different people in different places. Achieving climate-smart landscapes requires the application of interdisciplinary science.

Dr. Shem Kuyah, Director Research and Innovation, JKUAT, reiterated this by highlighting the necessity of tackling Climate Change which requires a multidisciplinary approach. “We have to rise above our traditional boundaries of social health and natural sciences and pick from each discipline, transcend and synthesize them. We hope to partner with more institutions working on climate change in the future.

Several technologies and land management practices have been preferred for increasing productivity, cutting GHG emissions, and helping adapt to climate change. There are, however, grey areas on how these technologies have affected the delivery of goods and services and other implications to the socio-ecological system. There are also questions regarding which technology is best suited for which conditions, and where and how to adapt these practices to local conditions. These concerns arise because of mixed results from these technologies/practices, some of which do not deliver satisfactory results.

Prof. John Gathenya presenting on Climate smart land management.
Prof. John Gathenya presenting on Climate Smart Land management.

In this regard, the presenters, Prof. John Wesonga, Prof John Gathenya, Dr. Amos Mbugua, and Prof. Grace Njoroge were able to elaborate more and help researchers who are seeking to understand how climate-smart agriculture (CSA), climate-smart land management, climate change and health, and climate information systems are implemented in various contexts, and how to efficiently improve their effectiveness.

In his presentation, Prof. John Wesonga was able to highlight the benefits of CSA on food security for farmers and their families, sustainable income for farmers, preparation of farmers to handle future effects of climate change, and reduction of greenhouse gasses and slow down climate change.

Prof. John Wesonga highlight the benefits of CSA on food security for farmers and their families
Prof. John Wesonga highlights the benefits of Climate Smart Agriculture on food security for farmers and their families

“Soil Testing can be one of the Climate Smart solutions. In Kenya, we tend to use fertilizers even when the soil pH is sufficient and this might very well be one of the reasons why climate change has become an issue.” Prof John Wesonga.

In his closing remarks, Dr. Shem Kuyah, emphasized the need to start a Climate strategy action plan and maximize our strengths, by forming partnerships, that will enhance the cross-pollination of ideas and the interrelatedness of the cause-effects of climate change in our lives.

We need to form research clusters that can explore and have follow-up discussions that can help us identify the areas suggested to apply for funding and use this to define and position JKUAT as a premier research institution that helps solve the problems and contribute to the development of our country.

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