You are here: Home Research Research Profile Innovation and Technology for Sustainable Futures Dr. Oliver Kirui, ZEF Post-doctorate researcher In pictures: Oliver Kirui's research trip in Africa

In pictures: Oliver Kirui's research trip in Africa

4. Gulley.JPG

One main focus of Oliver’s research trip to Tanzania and Ethiopia was to meet with local communities to gather information about how landscapes have changed over time and to offer training on how to create a sustainable ecosystem.

There are four types of communities Oliver and his research team visited. Those using the forest for resources, communities who use the land for grazing animals, communities who utilize shrub-lands (mainly pastoral communities) and communities who grow different types crops (subsistence as well as commercial farmers).

The landscape in this photo is dried out and eroded, taking away arable land for farmers to use for agricultural purposes.


This Kenyan community-used land has undergone massive change in a short period of time: forests were first cleared and converted into grazing areas and then used as crop land resulting in a degrading of the forests ecosystem. Sustainable and long-term management of the landscape could offer many more benefits in the long-term such as pollination, less air pollution and land that is reusable.

3.1 Grazing valley in Ethiopia.jpg

Successful outcome: about eight years ago this land was eroded and not arable. Initially it was forest land, but the trees were cut down to use for resources such as timber and fuelwood. Through community sensitization, government incentives, and land management initiatives it is now green, healthy and sustainably managed.

6.1 Women carrying firewood.jpg

In shrub landscapes, fire wood is used for cooking making it an attractive and vital market good. Unfortunately, it also means destruction of the fragile tree resources. Part of Oliver's research is to evaluate more sustainable and practical alternatives such as the use of bio-gas for cooking and solar energy for lighting.

5.1 wheat Farm.jpg

This ‘market-oriented’ farming community is doing well because every square meter is important. Here, innovations for a sustainable intensification in crop production are needed to avoid the mass use of fertilizer. The crop in this picture is teff, a plant that is native to Ethiopia and Eritrea. 

2. Focused Group Discussion participants in Ethiopia 2.JPG

Using satellite images, Oliver located communities in Ethiopia and Tanzania in areas that showed land degradation as well as land improvement. Present in each community meeting were the leaders of different status groups: women, men, teachers, youth leaders (male or female), local government and church. It was then the leader's role to disseminate information into the community, essentially training the trainers.

13.1 P7220044.jpg

The day before the first meeting, Oliver would map the community and its boundaries using GPS coordinates. Community leaders would then provide information on how the land has developed since 1982, to make sure the geo-data map is accurate. This is also know as ground truth.

16.3 P7250117.jpg

Happiness Zacharia is a research assistant from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), a collaborating institution from Tanzania. The first task is to sketch-out the community: plot the landscape locations, what they are used for and which state they are in. The aim is to develop methods to improve sustainable land usage.

9.1 DSC00823.jpg

In order to understand different farming process for crops and livestock and to develop methods for sustainable agricultural intensification Oliver, together with trained enumerators, interviewed 2,000 households. Here he is speaking to the head of a household in Malawi.

11.1 P1187524.jpg

Oliver together with his PhD advisor Dr. Alisher Mirzabaev during a filed research visit in Kenya.


All photos by (c) Oliver Kirui.

Document Actions