GIZ’s program for returning experts supports the Mazingira Centre to improve capacity and delivery

The German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the Centre for International Migration and Development (CIM) have jointly donated equipment worth more than €17,000 to the Mazingira Centre at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) to enhance its animal nutrition laboratory and rangeland conditions surveillance capacity.

The Mazingira Centre is a state-of-the-art environmental research and education facility that has enhanced environmental research in East Africa with a focus on livestock systems and land use change.

""A bomb calorimeter at ILRI’s Mazingira Centre. In front of it is a  bomb in which livestock feed samples are put to measure the gross energy contents. (photo: Alice Onyango/ILRI).

The donation is part of the Programme Migration and Diaspora (PMD) by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), which supports returning experts who have previously studied or worked in Germany. PMD provides support through salary top-ups, workshop attendance and grants for the purchase of workplace equipment. The program helps experts continue their research and mentor their peers and students and create positive change in their communities.

On several occasions between September 2021 and April 2022, GIZ’s program coordinator for PMD, Cynthia Kamau, handed the equipment to ILRI’s Alice Onyango and Victor Odipo, both of whom are alumni of German institutions.

Alice Onyango is a post-doctoral fellow at the Mazingira Animal Nutrition Laboratory while Victor Odipo is a post-doctoral fellow in Big Data at ILRI’s Sustainable Livestock Systems program. Onyango received two additional bombs for a laboratory instrument known as a bomb calorimeter, which is used to analyse the gross energy contents of feedstuffs, an important variable when estimating greenhouse gas emissions from livestock. The two additional bombs for the existing bomb calorimeters have increased the rate of gross energy analyses of livestock feeds and other animal samples at the centre without which, estimating greenhouse gas emissions by ruminant livestock would not meet international standards.

""Victor Odipo (left) received equipment from the GIZ team (David Mutua and Cynthia Kamau) in the presence of Claudia Arndt (right) (photo: Victor Odipo/ILRI).

Odipo received a multispectral unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) with remote sensors to generate vegetation indices which are critical in assessing plant health, condition and vigour. This information is used as a decision support tool in index-based drought risk financing. The drone will help to reduce the cost of monitoring by providing unbiased, consistent, and larger data sets compared to traditional means of monitoring rangelands. The data will allow the centre’s scientists to accurately quantify changes in different vegetation structure components and improve the representativeness of vegetation sampling.

‘This equipment will support the work of ILRI and its partners in monitoring rangeland conditions to improve the sustainable management initiatives and the livelihoods of livestock keepers,’ said Odipo.

Polly Ericksen, program leader of ILRI’s Sustainable Livestock Systems, lauded GIZ for the support saying the new equipment will support data collection from livestock emissions and climate change mitigation projects in the region. ​