Kaimosi Friends University and the Vihiga devolved government are at an advanced stage of setting up an institute to boost training and research on the environment and the adverse effects of climate change.
The institute will be run by the Climate Change and Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) Centre at the university.
It is the latest effort by the new university to boost its programme on focusing on research, innovation and technology.
The Vihiga devolved government operates a GIS laboratory at the county headquarters in Mbale town.
There will be a similar centre at the university.
The university administration says the partnership with the county government will enable it cut a niche in health research, microbiology, malaria, climate change resilience and tropical forest environmental studies.
Kaimosi Friends University sits on more than 200 acres that is part of a tropical rainforest.
Acting Vice-Chancellor Jack Nandi said the centre would be based at the Directorate of Research.
Vihiga Governor Wilber Ottichilo, a space scientist, said the plan is long overdue.
“The climate Change Institute at Kaimosi Friends University will help address the effects of global warming. This is a forgotten area that needs attention,” Governor Ottichilo said.
The Vihiga county boss added that his administration intends to plant five million tree seedlings in 2023 as part of the wider plan to realise the push for 10 per cent forest cover being spearheaded by the national government.
In a statement released by the university, Prof Nandi said two teams have attracted funds for research, adding that the money would be available for use this year.
“In addition, plans to set up a climate change and GIS centre in collaboration with the county government of Vihiga are being finalised,” the statement went on.
“The university has in the recent past conducted training forums aided by partners such as Research Beeline, Biodiversity and Biosafety Association of Kenya, Africa for Sustainable Development Goals and Biocosmos Kenya.”
According to the statement, Kaimosi Friends University leverages linkages, collaborations and partnerships that foster international awareness and deeper understanding of current emerging issues such as food security, climate change and epidemics in an effort to support and strengthen research.
Other notable partners with Kaimosi University are US-based institutions like Salisbury, Ball State and Michigan State universities.
The institution started as Kaimosi Friends University College in September 2014 and has been under the mentorship of Kakamega-based Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology.
Early August last year, Kaimosi Friends University was awarded a charter and has since been setting up schools that it says will hand it a niche in science and research training.
Other than the latest programme focusing on the environment and global warming matters, Kaimosi Friends University has launched medicine and nursing schools.
Prof Nandi said that is intended to align the university’s commitment to supporting the country’s policies and public services for the realisation of universal healthcare, manufacturing and affordable housing.
“Kaimosi Friends University has over the last seven years positioned itself as a centre of excellence in teaching, innovation and holistic development with market-driven programmes in education, arts, business, computing as well as pure and applied sciences,” Prof Nandi added.
“Our university has launched academic programmes that are responsive to the needs of this county and the international market. In line with our core mandate, we laid the foundation for our niche in health sciences with bachelor programmes in nursing, clinical medicine, surgery and community health. There is also a Bachelor of Science in Optometry and Vision Sciences.”
During the first graduation ceremony, Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi hailed Kaimosi Friends University for focusing on “quality programmes” after choosing health sciences as its niche area.
“I couldn’t be the happier for this forethought. This rekindles a dream deferred when as elected leaders in 2012, we focused on a Vihiga University of Medicine mentored by Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology,” he said.
“Thorough research showed a university specialising in medicine would be of greater benefit to communities of Vihiga County. I am glad that the dream will be a reality in the School of Medicine brought to us courtesy of Kaimosi Friends University.”