University of the Bush

University of the Bush When: November 22 – 24,  2010

Where: Kinna, Isiolo District, KENYA

All across northern Kenya pastroralists are talking about the new constitution voted by the Kenya Parliament in August 2010. Devolution of power to the new county system could mean local elected administrations responding better to pastoralist priorities. Defining those priorities and the ways in which the political opportunities can best be engaged is a question on many people’s minds. An upcoming seminar in the University of the Bush series will provide a forum for pastoralists to discuss the new opportunities and share innovations in institutions, trade and technology and how they might be used or developed to make the most of new political space.

A series of seminars organised by pastoralist leaders, pastoralist organisations and the UK Institute of Development Studies, the University of the Bush shares new academic research with East African pastoralists. The second seminar of the series will take place in Kinna, Isiolo District in the rangelands of northern Kenya. It will be hosted by the Kinna community and organised by the Pastoralist Shade Initiative, with support from Pastoralist Consultants International. From November 22-24, leading pastoralist thinkers will gather at Malka Bisan Adi, where the local women’s group are preparing a purpose-built camp on the edge of the Meru National Park. November is a time for rain and the community hope to welcome their guests with plenty of milk from their herds.

Around 40 pastoralist thinkers will attend. Men and women who don’t necessarily have a formal education, they are highly educated and respected for their understanding and knowledge within the traditional system. Young and old, they will come from diverse Kenyan and Ethiopian pastoralist communities. A small number of local government representatives and a delegation from the Minsitry of Northern Kenya are expected to join the discussions.

With the new constitution in mind, pastoralists at this seminar will debate the findings of five recent pieces of research into different areas of pastoralist innovation commissioned by the IDS-hosted Future Agricultures Consortium. These studies investigate innovations in camel marketing and camel disease management in northeastern Kenya and Ethiopia, changing land use and fodder access in areas of intense land competition in Tana River and Laikipia, a quiet revolution in peace and security management in Upper Eastern Kenya and southern Ethiopia and rangeland enclosures in southeastern Ethiopia.

Conventional research systems do not often provide opportunity for pastoralists to engage in its definition, analysis or its use. The University of the Bush seminars give pastoralists an opportunity to hear and debate current research findings. The result is better research and better use of research, increasing the reach of scholarship and expanding the influence of new ideas.