February 19th 2019, saw the start of a 3-day visit beginning at the Maasai Mara University by the UK National Centre for Earth Observation to Kenya. Their visit was to review progress on the research project on Kenya Hot-Spot Analysis for County Integrated Development Planning led by Professor Jacquie McGlade, Director Sekenani Research and Training Centre and discuss new areas of research and training collaboration. The hot-spot project is part of Prosperity Co-laboratory Kenya and aims to analyse environmental and agricultural change hotspots in the Mau complex, and Vihiga and Elgeyo-Marakwet counties as inputs to county and national decision-making and climate change policies. The project will provide a demonstration of data interpretation across scales using artificial intelligence techniques to integrate earth observation, national topographic mapping and community-based agriculture and ecosystem observation and records; mobile platform for community data acquisition; e-learning modules and datasets to support Kenya’s County Integrated Development Planning; and be a demonstration project within the African Regional Data Cube.
After a traditional Maasai welcome, the new Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Butilia Godrich Mathews opened the meeting underlining the importance of research in universities and the vital role of international collaboration. The meeting then heard about work at the university’s Sekenani Centre (McGlade) and the UKNCEO (Director, Professor John Remedios, Professor Heiko Baltzer and Dr Luke Smallman). Representatives from the community teams also gave an overview of the community science, field work and ground truthing in the Mau forest complex and Vihiga (Kipepeo Community). The meeting then heard from Maasai Mara University staff and collaborators participating in the project about the results of the agriculture and forest surveys (Professor Frances Mburu and Simon Wachila), remote sensing (Dr Samson Mabwoga) and e-learning (Anil Kumar).
During the visit, the team was given the good news that additional funds had been awarded to further develop the e-learning modules on the use of earth observation and community mapping in county development plans. The delegation went on to Nairobi to meet with other team members from Strathmore Business School, the Kenya Space Agency and the Office of the Deputy President and to discuss future research strategies for space science and open government policies. The project will be presented at the upcoming launch of the newly constituted Kenya Space Agency.