SLU news

Visting researcher focuses on droughts and climate variability

Published: 25 October 2016

Charles W. Recha is a lecturer and Chair at the Department of Geography at Egerton University in Kenya. Charles is soon taking part in a research exchange in the  AgriFoSe2030 programme.

His research experience stretches from modelling drivers of climate variability in south East semi-arid Kenya, seasonal climate forecast application in agricultural decision-making and assessment of effects of climate variability on rural livelihoods. Charles Recha has also done research in the area of soil and water conservation. At present, his research is in vulnerability analysis – with a focus on droughts, inter-decadal climate variability and household vulnerability.

We took the opportunity to ask Charles some questions before his visit to Sweden!

What will you be doing during your visit in Sweden and in the AgriFoSe programme?

While at Lund University, I will be joining a team of researchers in implementing AgriFoSe2030 programme. Specifically, I will be committed to a desktop study that will examine, among others, the geographical distribution of crops grown and livestock kept in Kenya, constraints in the agricultural sector, institutional arrangement and impacts of policies in the agricultural sectors in Kenya.

Charles Recha with a team of researchers collecting soil samples.

What are your expectations of what the programme will be working on? What do you think makes the programme important, and why and to whom does it matter?

By the end of the project, I expect the AgriFose2030 programme to document information on agricultural activities in Kenya. The report of the project should also provide a synthesis of policies – examining what has worked and otherwise. As such, this will provide a feedback to the stakeholders in the agricultural sector – especially at policy level.

The significance of the AgriFose2030 programme lies in its focus on food security. From a Kenyan perspective, identification of knowledge and policy gaps is timely – especially as the country works towards becoming middle-income by 2030. I also find outputs of the findings, among them a publication, useful in informing research in Kenya.

Tell us one thing that you are passionate about related to food security and sustainable agriculture.

Food security is so important to us in developing countries. Most statistics point to food insecurity in most African countries. In addressing food security, I am keen on two issues. First is the promotion of neglected crops such cassava, sorghum, millet, cowpeas especially among arid and semi-arid inhabitants. Cultivation of these crops will/can cushion communities against food insecurity and provide additional income as some are of high value return on market. Secondly, soil water conservation (SWC) techniques – their application at farm-level can significantly improve food security in the dry areas. Addressing the socio-economic challenges associated with these should be the initial step in scaling up use of SWC techniques.