The Africa Center Newsroom

Colorado State University is among five other higher education institutions that was awarded the NAFSA 2013 Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization!!

CSU and the University of Nairobi (UoN) partnered to open a Center for Sustainable Dryland Ecosystems and Societies (CSDES), which focuses on research and education to address the sustainability challenges of Kenya’s underdeveloped drylands. Read more to see what fellow SAES member and director of CSU's Center for Collaborative Conservation Robin Reid, a centerpiece in fostering the relationship between CSU and UoN, has to say about the the development and future of the partnership.

In sub-Saharan Africa, land acquisitions are on the rise and investment trends are shifting.  Many countries in sub-Saharan Africa have liberal investment laws and generous tax incentives, but laws governing customary land-use rights and ownership are weak. Negotiations for land occur completely outside any existing statutory legal frameworks, increasing the need to close tax loopholes and improve legal frameworks. The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) is working in conjunction with the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) to help governments and civil society reform laws to promote peace, justice, sustainable development and economic opportunity.

A new, green building technology has been introduced in Kenya that may offer an alternative and cost-effective solution to building homes that eliminates the need for stone and timber.  In many cases, this seems like a win-win for local communities and conservationists alike.  Advantages of Expanded polystyrene (EPS) panels include; a) more cost-effective than traditional building materials, b) require less time to construct, c) made with recyclable materials, d) eliminates the need for timber so it can decrease pressure on forest ecosystems.  However, some argue that the technology might yet not be affordable enough for those living on the margins.

Currently, most of Kenya’s educational institutions depend on firewood as their main source of energy for cooking, contributing to deforestation and placing a financial burden on schools and universities due to rising prices for their fuel. In response, the Kenya Forest Service and the African Development Bank (AfDB) have initiated a project dubbed “Green Zone Development”, in which biogas technology is being introduced as an alternative energy source to learning facilities in the Rift Valley. 

Northern Kenya is undergoing rapid changes due in part to the recent discovery of oil and water and as a result increased road infrastructure throughout the region.  These changes include increased population, habitat fragmentation and competition for scarce resources.  Although it may appear as great potential for local communities to increase their livelihoods, the absence of appropriate governance mechanisms and security has set the stage for drastic increase in violent raiding atacks and other security threats as well as large-scale land-grabbing from outside wealthy investors.  

When Simon Choko goes out fishing on Kenya’s lake Turkana, he brings a gun as well as a net. The northwest corner of Kenya has witnessed on-going drought, coupled with an increase in the availability of firearms.  As a result, the Turkana community to which Choko belongs is involved in deadly conflict with rivals from across the border in neighboring Ethiopia, as local groups are competing for scarce resources. Continue reading for Choko's full story.

According to a report from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and partner organisations, some areas of Kenya may receive more rainfall as climate patterns shift. Although climate predictions suggest that rainfall will increase in some areas, decreases in rainfall may be seen in some of the most productive agriculture provinces.   Initiatives to help pastoralists adapt to these uncertain futures is underway.  Local groups are partnering with international agencies to promote "Climate-Smart Villages" that provide practical adaptation options to improve food security and resilience.

Illegal small arms have been a common feature of cattle raiding, resource conflict and retaliatory attacks in rural northern Kenya for the last 20 years. Recently, however there has been an increase in the use of arms in urban areas.   Conflict and robberies are on the rise throughout urban sprawls with  unfortunately no end in sight.  

Farmers in Dodoma, Tanzania have long relied on traditional weather forecasting methods to decide when to plant their maize crops. Since 2007, ongoing drought has threatened harvests. The FarmSMS initiative, led by the Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA), aims to help farmers reduce the risk of crop failure by delivering real-time weather information to mobile handsets that can inform planting decisions

Firewood has long been used as a cooking fuel in many homes in rural Kenya. But demand for timber is stripping the countryside of its mature trees.  A growing number of Kenyans, however, have discovered an alternative way to increase incomes; farming mangoes.  This practice can help absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, while at same time providing farmers with a reliable cash crop in an arid region struggling to produce staple crops like maize.