Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), through the Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Engineering (SWEED), launched a two-year Master’s of Science in Sanitation program on Friday April 8, 2022.
The program, which focuses on non-sewered sanitation, is part of JKUAT’s efforts to contribute to the global interventions that will enable Kenya to achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all by 2030 as part of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number six.
The Vice Chancellor of JKUAT, Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi, who was represented by Prof. Robert Kinyua, Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic Affairs, hailed the launch of the program as a milestone in the field of water management, noting the significant gap yet to be filled by academia and other stakeholders, particularly in developing countries, in order to meet the required sanitation standards.
This, she said, is “evident by global statistics. For instance, as of 2020, 3.6 billion people (46% of the world population) did not have access to safe sanitation and lacked basic sanitation services and facilities, such as private toilets or latrines. Of these, 494 million continue to defecate in the open, behind bushes or into open water bodies, which accounts for about 10% of the global disease burden. ”
During the function, Prof. Kinyua, welcomed the students to JKUAT, describing it as an all-encompassing environment full of activities such as clubs and chaplaincy services for students’ development.
He also advised students to seek counseling whenever they encountered difficulties, as this can have a negative effect on their postgraduate studies performance. He further emphasized the importance of publishing research outputs in high-impact journals in order to boost the university’s webometrics ranking and contribute to society’s development.
“Our impact as professionals must be felt and we must apply the knowledge we have gained to transform our immediate environment, particularly by helping the community to abandon regressive behaviours and assimilate habits that aid in social change,” said Prof. Kinyua.
Representing the Principal College of Engineering and Technology (COETEC), Dr. Mutuku Muvengei, reiterated the necessity of the program, stating that in addition to capacity building, the graduate students were also expected to engage in multidisciplinary collaborations, which is the current trend in research.
The MSc sanitation program, currently offered by IHE-Delft (Netherlands), was transferred to a few competitively selected universities in Kenya, among them JKUAT. By virtue of this, JKUAT is now a member of the Global Sanitation Graduate School (GSGS).
Currently, there are 15 students in the first cohort (8 male, 7 female) who are enrolled in their first semester. Additionally, applications for admission into the second cohort are on-going and potential students are encouraged to apply.
While providing an overview of the program, the project coordinator, Prof. (Eng.) James Messo, an Associate Professor at SWEED, expressed the Department’s intention to train more sanitation practicing professionals through Post Graduate Diplomas and Certificates in order to reach the critical mass of 1000 experts in the country, which is urgently required.
The Master’s program, as outlined by Dr. Hosea Mwangi, Chairman of SWEED, and Dr. Eric Ronoh, Chairman of the Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Department (ABED), and also acting Dean School of Biosystems and Environmental Engineering (SOBEE), will take a multifaceted approach and include courses such as sanitation and behavior change as well as advocacy. These will complement the technical content of the course.
Also present at the launch was Prof. Naomi Maina, Director of Grants Management at JKUAT.