By mugonya John
In September this year, I received communication from the International Crop Research Institute for Semi_Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) that my application for an internship placement had been successful. Getting an internship opportunity soon after defending my Master’s thesis at Gulu University, was exciting and double blessing. I looked forward to working with a multi-disciplinary team from various countries. I was selected to work in the Markets Institutions Nutrition and Diversity program, particularly on analysis of livestock market systems among pastoralists and agro-pastoralists in the Kerio Valley of Kenya. The internship was supported by the MasterCard Foundation (MCF) through the Regional Universities’ Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM).
I reported for the intership at the World Agroforestry Center in Nairobi which hosts the Eastern and Southern regional office of ICRISAT. The center is home for nineteen international organizations many of which are under the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Consortium. I was warmly welcomed and given adequate support beyond my expectations.
I started the preparation for the Kerio Valley study with a voracious review of literature related to livestock market systems’ function and structure. Given the time and financial resources availed, qualitative research methods were preferred over quantitative. I was not acquainted to qualitative research methods, therefore I was supported by my line supervisor and other team members. I was also supported by two experts in qualitative studies notably Caroline Hambloch and Emma Elfversson particularly in designing the study methodology. I have gained a lot of knowledge, skills and insights in qualitative research especially in methodology development, data collection and transcription.
During data collection, I was pleased to see a beautiful part of Kenya, the Kerio Valley. The valley is geographically shaped like a triangle and it touches three different counties which include; Elgeyo-Marakwet, West Pokot and Beringo. The valley is home to majorly two tribes; the Marakwets and the Pokots. The Pokots are pastoralists while the Marakwets are agro-pastoralists. In Kerio Valley, livestock is very important for people’ livelihoods and as a means of transport given the terrain of the land. A striking attribute about these people is the social capital amongst them. For example, I witnessed the community contributing towards education of three children two in high school and one at the university who belonged to a teacher within the community. This internship is a great experience both in terms of developing my research skills and in appreciating various cultural practices.
Contact: Phone: +256 771890353, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @mugonyaj
Figure 1: A truck loading mangoes in Sangach center, Elgeyo Marakwet County
Figure 2: Donkeys carrying luggage across a stream near the cattle trade area in Lomut, West Pokot County
Figure 3: Goats moving to the grazing area along Tot-Kolowa road
Figure 4: Female traders selling milk in Chesegeon livestock market in West Pokot County