TU-K Intensifies Research Through Collaboration

The Netherlands Initiative for Capacity Development in Higher Education (NICHE) has funded a project at TU-K by the name, “Strengthening the Technical University of Kenya to enhance delivery of quality education programmes in Integrated Water Resources Management,” to the tune of Euros 1 million.

NICHE is a Netherlands funded development co-operation programme with a view of strengthening organizational capacity in developing countries in terms of providing post-secondary education and training. The Netherlands bilateral co-operation programme, supports various programmes in cross-cutting themes (i.e gender equity and linkage of capacity development activities to demands in the labour market and in the higher education sector). Through this project, the expertise of Dutch organizations combined with local or regional expertise, are to assist Southern organizations in capacity development.

The development of this project was initiated and spearheaded by Prof. Paul M. Shiundu who is presently the Project’s Team Leader. The development of the grant-winning project proposal was a team effort, whose membership included;Prof. Suki Mwendwa Deputy Vice Chancellor – Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP) Prof. George Thumbi, Mr. Alphonce Z. Ondiwa, Ms. Jane Masese, Mr. Ronald Sungu, Mr. Nathan M. Muli, Mrs.Gladys Kitui, Ms. Lydia Gachahi, and Mr.Jackson Mbato.

The theme of Integrated Water Resources Management was selected because it is both supportive to economic development and a growing market for entrepreneurial technicians/technologists;particularly in this new political dispensation of county governments.

Kenya is a water-scarce country, and yet future projections show that per capita available water, currently at 650 m3 per year, will likely drop to 359 m3 per year by 2020 as a result of population growth.Consequently, urgent action is needed to increase the capacity of the water sector to improve the availability and accessibility of clean, safe drinking water. So far,access to safe water and sanitation services has not caught up with the needs of the growing population. This project will therefore play an instrumental role in solving some or all of the above mentioned shortcomings by strengthening the capacity of TU-K in the provision of relevant post-secondary education and training in Integrated Water Resources Management. This project aims at producing graduates, who can contribute effectively to the water scarcity problems in Kenya and use the skills and expertise acquired during the training in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) programmes to produce safe and clean drinking water. To achieve this, practical, entrepreneurial and gender skills have to be integrated in TU-K’s educational programmes at all levels (certificate, diploma, degree, and post graduate studies).
The project seeks to address the core functions of the University by strengthening its organizational, technical and training capacity in line with the themes of the Vision 2030. The project focuses, on among other things, the following specific objectives:

  • Reviewing and developing gender sensitive and practical programmes in Integrated Water Resources Management at certificate, diploma, bachelors and masters levels;
  • Improving entrepreneurial and life skills to meet labour market needs;
  • Strengthening outreach, partnerships and research programmes to improve the quality of training programmes and increase TUK’s influence on the IWRM agenda in Kenya.

Milestones gained from the nuffic-niche programme over the last six months
Training:
Human resource development is one of the anchors of Kenya Vision 2030 with the aim of creating a “globally competitive and adaptive human resource base among other things, lifelong training and education. Therefore, to realize this, the Technical University of is positioning itself strategically to offer programmes in IWRM. The training programmes are expected to enhance knowledge in IWRM, pedagogical capacity and practical skills for teaching staff that allows them to deliver new IWRM curriculum, effectively supervise students and apply the latest IWRM technology. In this regard the following activities are on-going:

  • After a rigorous and competitive selection process, three Ph.D. candidates were identified (two female and one male) to join University of the Western Cape (UWC), South Africa for doctoral studies, namely;
    • Mr. Ronald Sungu - Lecturer, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
    • Ms. Lydia Gachahi - Lecturer, Department of Earth, Environmental Science & Technology
    • Ms. Margaret Ndungo - Lecturer, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering

The selection process paid special attention to gender which is one of the areas of focus under the NICHE programme and a link between capacity development and the needs of the labour market.

  • TU-K is in the process of identifying candidates for a fully sponsored Master’s degree programme in the field of Integrated Water Resources Management. The recruitment process for Graduate Assistants with a bias in Chemical, Biological or Environmental Sciences or Civil Engineering is on-going.
  1. Workshops on Curricula Development and Pedagogical skills, Gender Mainstreaming Leadership Planning:
    Several workshops and working groups have been held in the last six months in order to realize the above stated objectives of the NICHE programme.
    • January 16th – 18th, 2013: “Workshop on Curricula Development, Pedagogical Skills and the IWRM Centre” with the aim of strengthening TU-K to enhance delivery of quality education programmes in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM). The participants were drawn from the departments of Geospatial Science and Engineering, Chemical Science and Technology, Biological Science and Technology and Civil and Environmental Engineering.
      So far, draft curricula for Certificates, Diploma, Bachelors and Masters Programmes in the Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) have been developed. The programmes are being developed in consultation with the IHE Team.
      The TUK Management was tasked to consider establishment of an IWRM Center (virtual or physical) to fulfil different functions e.g. conducting and acquiring of multidisciplinary/interdisciplinary applied research projects that address real-life problems/challenges; conducting research on multi-faceted complex water problems/challenges and which will streamline and coordinate all existing and new water training programmes. This is an ongoing process.
    • February 14th – 15th, 2013: Workshop for TU-K Gender Committee on Concepts of Gender and Gender Mainstreaming: The objective of training the members on gender was to equip members with practical skills for developing the gender policy.
    • June 3rd – 7th, 2013: Workshop for Capacity Building for TU-K Staff was held under the NUFFIC-NICHE Project Output 1.4 Activity. This was a tailor-made training course on Planning and Leadership for about twenty six (26) senior staff. The training was delivered by consultants from MDF-ESA Training and Consultancy Limited in collaboration with Mott Mac-Donald under the NUFFIC Capacity Building Programme.
      The course was to build capacities of executive management, teaching and other senior staff in better planning, supervising and management of change process of the TUK programmes during the transition into a fully fledged Technical University.
    • July 17th -19th, 2013: The University Gender Committee held a working session to equip members of committee with skills and operational guidelines on how to develop a gender policy. In order to mainstream gender it was important to look at gender holistically and institution wide.
      The objectives of the session were: to develop a gender audit/assessment; an inception report; operational guidelines; and a draft gender policy. The session covered areas such as mainstreaming a gender perspective in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Policy; making STI policy gender responsive; basic features of a gender policy and gender mainstreaming in STI policy.
  2. Purchase of equipments

    In order to improve quality of learning and have a competitive advantage over other players in the market; the project plan is to upgrade teaching and research equipment with a focus on IWRM.

    In conclusion, this project opens up new horizons to further increase the effectiveness of our cooperation in education and research, especially in the IWRM and the training provided by the project under TUK is practical, useful and is most needed both nationally and internationally