The ASALI project is funded through the legacy of Late Ms Grietje Wille for the education of people from developing countries wiling to serve society and contribute to the development of their country. The project is coordinated through the Centre for International Cooperation (CIS), on behalf of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU). ASALI aims at supporting the research and education capacity of two partner universities in Kenya: Moi University (MU) in Eldoret and South Eastern Kenya University (SEKU) in Kitui.
The name “ASALI” is the abbreviation of “A Sustainable Approach to Livelihood Improvement”. The project’s overall aim is to contribute through research and education to the development of sustainable and innovative methods of livelihood improvement for local communities. The focus hereby is on disadvantaged groups such as small-scale farmers, women and youth in the vicinity of the partner universities in western and south-eastern Kenya. ASALI’s specific objectives include:
1. To develop sustainable natural resource management strategies to enhance water and food security for sustainable livelihoods of smallholder farmers
2. To examine the influence of value chain development and entrepreneurial opportunities and innovations on poverty alleviation and livelihood improvement among women and youth;
3. To explore the use of sustainable renewable energy and its contribution to entrepreneurial job creation options for youth and women; and to examine nutritional behavior and its effects on health among women and children.
Research is a joint undertaking of the partner universities, including 4 PhDs and at least 4 staff-student research projects conducted by the different teams at the partner universities in Kenya, supported by CIS and VU staff through trainings, workshops and seminars.
In the reporting period, the project management team visited the partner universities last February 2018 in Eldoret, Kenya, for making the necessary preparations for the upcoming ASALI conference, planning project activities 2018 and starting preparatory work for a proposal on Enhancing Postgraduate Environment – Erasmus Plus Capacity Building for Higher Education (EPE) due in 2019. In addition, the Centre for International Cooperation (CIS) of VU Amsterdam co-organized the ASALI conference on Kenya Vision 2030: Towards Food security, Sustainable Energy and Successful Entrepreneurship from 10-12 April in Eldoret, Kenya. The conference was organized to present and discuss the project’s research outputs and provide a platform for stakeholders, active in similar fields, to share their views and knowledge. The conference venue was packed to capacity with a diverse audience listening to over 15 paper presentations and more than 20 pitches by local stakeholders, university staff, and graduate and postgraduate students. VU students, who were in Kenya for research within the framework of ASALI, assisted with conference logistics. Colleagues from Maseno University in Kisumu, our partner in the Nuffic-funded SPADE project, also actively participated in the conference. Prof. Enno Masurel (FEWEB) was part of the opening panel and gave a warm welcome to the delegates on behalf of VU. Prof. Verburg (IVM) gave an inspiring key note address on multi-scale trade-offs as a pathway to global sustainability, followed by other ASALI team members Prof Jacqueline Broerse (Athena Institute) and Dr Ralph Lasage (IVM) who gave interesting presentations on Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture and Farming Household Drought Vulnerability respectively. The sessions were closed off by Dr Denyse Snelder with a reflection on the current status of the project, in terms of its contribution to sustainable livelihood improvement, followed by the closing remarks provided by Prof Richard Mibey, the former Vice Chancellor of Moi University. The conference was concluded by a one-day field trip to 4 sites closely related to the ASALI’s priority thematic areas: natural resource management; sustainable entrepreneurship; renewable energy; and health and food and nutrition security. After the conference, Dr Ralph Lasage travelled to SEKU (ASALI partner university), Kitui, to follow up research on water management conducted by a VU student in collaboration with ASALI staff and SEKU students. Dr Snelder provides (ongoing) support to MU and SEKU staff with data analysis and publication writing.