What is research without friends?

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Hey there, thanks for taking your time out to read this blog. I hope you find it interesting to read and hope you take one or two things away from it.

In my previous blog I wrote about my time at ILRI and a bit on what the institute does, I mentioned that the next blog would be an introduction of some of the really amazing people I met through the research process while based at the ILRI campus in Nairobi.

Before leaving Ireland I was a bit anxious and wasn’t sure what to expect at a place like ILRI, especially with little knowledge on livestock at the time. It was very important for me to find my feet and get into the programme at ILRI, and although academia is mostly an isolated journey, it makes it really worthwhile to meet and interact with others on the same journey as yourself.

Meeting with other ILRI graduate fellows made it a lot easier or me to adjust and opened up opportunities to learn about aspects of development that I didn’t naturally think about. The beauty of doing development work is in the diverse backgrounds that are involved in shaping policy and interventions that follow. Spending time with my research friends was exciting, we always had interesting conversations, mostly over really good cappuccino 🙂

Below are some of the great young minds I met and was inspired by while at ILRI.

Irene Njoki Nganga from Nairobi has a Bachelor of Science degree in Range Management and a Master of science in Land and water management.
Her research interests are working with communities mainly in drylands to help them secure their livelihoods and improve the status of their lives through use of modern techniques and technologies. When speaking about her work she said;
‘I like the research am involved in because it impacts greatly on marginalized communities giving them a chance at doing things differently while still retaining the best of their traditional practices.’

Tyrell Kahan from Florida is a candidate for the Master’s in Development Practice at Emory university, Atlanta, GA, USA. A veterinarian that is interested in issues that occur at the human-animal interface including agricultural capacity development, food security and zoonotic diseases. This summer Tyrell is working on the second phase of a research project that is exploring factors that influence adoption and retention of biogas technology in western Kenya. The project is employing questionaires, informant interviews and focus groups to learn about the motivations to adopt biogas, the factors that are associated with continued use of the technology and the benefits and challenges that biogas users encounter.

Ashton Richardson from Louisiana is an MA candidate in International Development at the University of Sheffield (Sheffield, UK) and a DVM candidate at Texas A&M University (Texas, USA).
His research interests mostly involve governance and participation in the Global South with a particular interest in agrarian reform.
Ashton’s current project is investigating the impact of training and certification programs on the state-society relationship between the Kenya Dairy Board and stakeholders in Kenya’s informal dairy sector. What he enjoys about research is being able to piece together seemingly disjointed events into understandable causes and outcomes that can then shed light on underlying ideologies and historical drivers of contemporary issues. I believe that such work is fundamental to breaking cycles of poverty and injustice.

Taisha Venort from Haiti is an MS candidate in Agricultural &Biological Engineering at Purdue University USA. Her master’s project involves investigating small scale anaerobic digestion projects. Taisha is a Borlaug Fellow conducting research in Kenya. The scope of her work includes interviewing farmers and observing farm systems operation where biogas technology is adopted, this toward identifying success factors of biogas technology application for their sustainability.

Although our specific interests were different, the passion for development research was shared amongst us. I learnt a lot from our reading sessions and the time spent with these guys outside the confines of the ILRI was priceless and made living in a different city away from home a lot more enjoyable.

It’s always inspiring to see young people, following their passion and wanting to make a difference in the world that we live in today. Looking forward to working with these guys in the future, and definitely, wish them all the best in their careers.

At our favourite place in Nairobi #Kilimanjaro

At our favourite place in Nairobi #Kilimanjaro

The crew with one of my supervisors. From left: Dr. Todd Crane, Ashton,Irene,Taisha, Itu and Tyrell :)

The crew with one of my supervisors.
From left: Dr. Todd Crane, Ashton,Irene,Taisha, Itu and Tyrell 🙂