ISTVS’ NEW University of Nairobi accredited Bachelor in Science Degree course in Dryland Economics and Agro-Ecosystem Management

“Food security” and “resilience” are today’s catchwords when discussing development in the arid and semi-arid lands, and particularly in the IGAD region, stretching over 5.2 million Km2 and home to some 170 million people throughout the Horn of Africa.

The development discourse evolves around issues of natural resource (including livestock) management, livelihoods, environment, climate change and the increasing challenges faced by peoples and communities.

In the region, population growth remains high, and despite the tendency to move to urban areas, the majority of people by 2020 are still expected to live in the rural areas dominated by drylands, and many of them in poverty. Poor dryland productivity is one of the main problems, heavily influenced by climatic variability (droughts and floods) and severe land degradation.

Despite low productivity levels, dryland resources are prominent in the economies and societies of the IGAD countries. They contribute a major share to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employ about ¾ of the population. Livestock accounts for some 57%, underlining its importance. Livestock development and dryland resource management are the main determinants in poverty levels and food security.

ISTVS, together with University of Nairobi, has championed this new course that has been specifically designed for the drylands. DEAM graduates will be equipped to address such constraints as they will be furnished with skills in cost-benefit analysis, research, planning and policy-making. They will access jobs in the private and public sectors, as well as with non-governmental organisations, as professionals with these skills are scarce in the drylands of the IGAD region. DEAM graduates will contribute to increased food security and the resilience of communities living on (semi-) arid lands by strengthening their ability to cope with environmental and socio-economic change.

What do you study in DEAM?
This 4-year degree programme comprises the first 2 years focusing on core courses that ground students in dryland agro-ecosystem related basic sciences and the fundamentals of the professional disciplines (e.g dryland economics, animal science, dryland crop protection, dryland crop science and soil science).

During the remaining 2 years students major in one of the following: a) Dryland Economics enabling them to transform dryland livelihoods in an environmentally sustainable fashion; to manage dryland resource enterprises; and to develop dryland agri-businesses; b) Extension enabling them to enhance productivity, commercialization and competitiveness in dryland agro-ecosystems, to disseminate information and transfer technology, and to diversify income sources and empower communities; or c) Land and Water Resource Management enabling them promote sustainable land and water management for increased livestock, dryland crops and environmental protection, to prevent and/or alleviate land degradation, and to implement national policies relating to natural resource management.

(NOTE: Majors will be on offer only if they achieve a minimal student number.)

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