The Restoring African Degraded Landscaped (ReDEAL) project is an interdisciplinary and collaboratively coordinated research project that aims at helping smallholder to avoid further and possibly reverse land degradation without compromising livelihoods and food production. The project partners are Lancaster University, University of Manchester, CIFOR, ILRI and the university of Kabianga.
Part of the project is to build essential capacity in terms of staff and environmental analytics in Africa. As a consequence, and with the resources from the ReDEAL project, the expertise of Lancaster University and two technicians – George Wanyama a Research Officer and Paul Mutuo a Research Technician at the ILRI’s Mazingira Centre – a new soil analyitical laboratory was installed at University of Kabianga in February 2020. The setup of the new lab did not only mean to bring and install new equipment to Kabianga, but further provided hands-on training on assorted laboratory equipment, chemicals and consumables at the School of Natural Resources and Environmental Management (SNREM) at the university.
Before the installation of the new equipment, which had previously been tested at ILRI’s Mazingira Centre a final touch of cleaning the laboratory was done as well as the identification of the mist suitable installation points within the laboratory. Once the locations were identified, plumbing for the exhaust fumes for an oven, more precisely a muffle furnace, was installed. Due to regular power outages and in order to avoid damages to the sensitive equipment, additional surge protectors were purchased and installed accordingly. Each instrument (drying oven, pH meter, electric conductivity meter, weighing balance) was tested for its functionality and subsequently calibrated.
At the end of the week, six laboratory technicians and technologists from SNREM, were trained on how to operate and do maintenance of the equipment through hands-on practicals combined with question and answer sessions. The staff were also trained on good laboratory practices, keeping records on daily usage and maintenance of the equipment and general book-keeping. The ILRI team greatly appreciated the preparedness of University of Kabianga team by having a generator on stand-by and by having themselves prepared with the pre-shared instrument documentation.
The laboratory was handed over on 14th February 2020 and visited by Prof. Elijah Omwenga, the Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Kabianga who expressed gratitude to the ILRI staff and other project partners while emphasizing the need for further collaboration beyond the project period.
Funding for this activity was received from the Gobal Challenges Research Fund under the Restoring African Degraded Landscaped (ReDEAL) project.