• The university, through the School of Pure and Applied Sciences, won the Erasmus Plus grant alongside Nottingham Trent University (NTU) and the JKUAT.
• The faculty will also determine soil fertility, agroforestry and tree species with a view to assessing the food/fuel security.
Mount Kenya University has won an international grant for restoration of Brackenhurst Forest in Limuru, Kiambu county.
The university, through the School of Pure and Applied Sciences, won the Sh110 million Erasmus Plus funding alongside Nottingham Trent University (NTU) in the UK and the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.
The funds will facilitate the assessment, documentation and protection of indigenous medicinal plants that form part of the forest. They will also support the determination of medicinal components of the plants. The project will run for three years.
The faculty will also determine soil fertility, agroforestry and tree species with a view to assessing the food/fuel security, according to the dean of the school, Dr Mary Muriuki — the project’s lead researcher.
Muriuki on Monday said they will also spend the funds in assessing the impact of restoration of the forest on farming in Limuru subcounty. He spoke to the Star on the university's main campus in Thika.
“This project will not only benefit the university but the community at large since it addresses the issue of forest restoration and conservation, which will impact on the climate. I hail the MKU fraternity for this big win,” Muriuki said.
She noted that farmers in the agricultural subcounty and the neighbouring areas, including Githunguri, Lari and Kiambu, will reap big from the project as the climate will favour their farming.
“We will engage locals in the project area because, in the long run, they will be beneficiaries of this project. It’s a great milestone for the university in its endeavour to impact on environment conservation besides imparting academic training to our students,” Muriuki said.
Dr Charles Warui, who will be the project’s coordinator-cum- academic collaborator, said the project will benefit MKU students by enhancing their research skills and providing them with industrial exposure.
“At the university level, the grant's activities will benefit both postgraduate and undergraduate students. The students will be involved in the field and laboratory research. Ten students and six faculty members will benefit from an exchange programme with NTU,” he said.
In July this year, the university bagged the prestigious Talloires Network Innovative Civic Engagement Award for its efforts in easing clean water access in communities.
As part of the award, it received Sh2 million for distribution of more than 10,000 water backpacks and treatment of 1,000 jigger-infested schoolchildren in Marsabit and Kilifi counties.
(Edited by F'Orieny)