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Big things happening in Kenya

AgriSCALE Project Board will meet face-to-face for the first time and students from HAMK anf Aalto University are collaborating with Egerton University in the field.

Text Jenni Hopeela

AgriSCALE, a joint initiative by 9 HEIs (Higher Education Institutions) in Finland, Kenya, Italy, Uganda and Zambia, has started in 2020. The Project Board, Local Coordinators and all the other partners have worked together and got to know each other online ever since. They have had frequent meetings, discussions and other collaborations to create and develop different aspects and actions of AgriSCALE.

Finally now when the travel districtions have been lifted, the Project Board are able to meet face-to-face in Kenya in the beginning on April. While working online has opened more possibilities, widened the network and increased the collaborations, meeting in real-life strengthens the relationships and will create solid foundation for things to come.

International student teams in the field

At the same time, there are students working on their student challenges in the field in Kenya. HAMK students are working with project that aims to promote the production and consumption of Biogas in Kenya. There are many approaches to that: to use invasive species as biomass source, to find out what kind of business opportunities the producing of biomasses would offer for local farmers, to enhance the use of biogas stoves in households and to overall promote the biogas. This project offers many possible problems for students to solve in co-operation.

Before field trip students have had brainstorming sessions about the problem they want to focus on. They have had meetings online with other students who are collaborating with them:

We have had three workshops with Aalto and Egerton Universities, where we have gone through the project and the trip to Kenya. We have created our viewpoint on this project, to focus on promoting awareness of the benefits of bioethanol production by using invasive species. Egerton University has provided us with a company in the field, to work with and to whom we will be creating the material for”, explains Suvi Lähteenmäki, a Sustainable Development student from HAMK.

In Kenya the students and their mentor, Senior Lecturer Ulla-Maija Knuutti, will be getting to know local operations and how they work. Ulla-Maija describes their plans:

We have the opportunity to visit local biogas producers and get good understanding of the situation. In first days we will get to know each other better, then do detailed plans for field visit, in the field we try to collect as much data as possible. Then in the end of the student challenge we will presenting every teams solutions to the company representatives.”

Both of them look forward to working in international teams in the field and getting to know new culture and environment in Kenya. They expect to learn new things about biogas production and hope to produce useful end-product that will create interest in people and improve collaboration.

It will be amazing opportunity to see so different country and culture! We expect to see the beautiful nature and the friendly people! Also, the experience of learning with new people will be very exciting. I think we are very lucky to be able to offer this kind of possibility for our students! “, Ulla-Maija adds.

Suvi concurs: “We are all excited to go and see Kenya and meet our fellow students. We are going to be working together a lot, so it will be interesting to see how the collaboration will go and some cultural differences are bound to occur. But I am hoping for an intriguing cooperation with students and other collaborators, new acquaintances and having a memorable trip.”


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