Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Empowering Pastoralists Through Education

Access to higher education for pastoral Communities has remained a big challenge in Kenya and many other African countries. It has become increasingly clear that pastoral communities have been severely disadvantaged in accessing higher education opportunities due to high poverty levels and marginalization. The high cost of higher education and the high entry points to the universities have posed a great impediment to empowering the pastoralists communities through education. However, the story is taking a different turn for six pastoral students courtesy of the Centre for Sustainable Dryland Ecosystems and Societies (CSDES).
CSDES which is a partnership between the University of Nairobi (UON) and Colorado State University (CSU) was established one year ago with the mission to contribute to sustainable Dryland ecosystems and improved livelihoods through innovative trans-disciplinary education, research, partnerships, policy dialogue and community outreach initiatives. In a bid to accomplish this mission, the Centre in partnership with the Meeker Family Fund competitively awarded six needy students from the pastoral communities with higher education scholarships to enable them pursue undergraduate and master’s degrees in various desciplines.
The scholarships catered for the all their fees and upkeep at the University of Nairobi.
“I am now certain of attaining my dream career as an Environmental Scientist.” quipped Lalampaa Pricilla, one of the beneficiaries. “Being a girl from Samburu County, I have no support from relatives since they would rather have me married than get an education. My parents are also unable to support me due to the levels of poverty. This is a God given opportunity that I will use to succeed in life and empower my community.” She concludes. Like the other five students who benefitted from the Scholarship, Lalampaa is excited that her future looks bright.
CSDES is one of the 11 partnerships between Africa and U.S institutions of higher education that received a two year funding through a competitive grant process by U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through Higher Education for Development (HED). The vision of CSDES is:  Excellence in the management of dryland ecosystems and societies.