Environmental and social safeguards mainstreamed in Kenyan universities

Improvements in environmental and social safeguards are being implemented by four of Kenya's leading universities who focus on agricultural science.

In Kenya, agriculture underpins socio-economic structures, with farming a vital occupation providing food and resources to communities.  

However, the intensive application of agrochemical pesticides, irrespective of their inherent dangers, is contributing to an alarming degradation of human health and the environment. 

There is increased recognition of the urgency in enforcing environmental and social safeguard measures in farming practices. 

Pesticide development involves a multidisciplinary approach, and universities play a crucial role in research and education. 

University extension programs provide vital information and support to farmers and the surrounding communities on agriculture and the use of pesticides.

Improvements in environmental and social safeguards are being implemented by four of Kenya’s leading universities with a focus on agricultural science: Murang'a University of Technology, Chuka University, Taita Taveta University, and Laikipia University.

Screening and scoping

These four universities operate farms as part of their agricultural research mandate.  

To improve protection for workers and the environment on these farms, the Environment and Social Safeguards (E&S) team from Accelerating Impacts of CGIAR Climate Research for Africa (AICCRA) supported farm-specific screenings. 

These screenings: 

  • Identified the potential E&S risks and impacts inherent in their farming practices.

  • Identified appropriate strategies and actions that can address the risks, and mitigate potential impacts. 

  • Defined and assigned roles and responsibilities to stakeholders for each identified risk, alongside measures that can be put in place to fill the gaps. 

  • Informed training for staff and students at the universities hosted by AICCRA, following these previous steps.  

The training focused on:

  • The best Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for various farm activities

  • Measures to minimize danger to terrestrial and aquatic life

  • Erosion control

  • Solid waste management at farms

  • Safe purchases

  • The storage, use, and disposal of agro-chemicals

  • Grievance management

  • First aid packages, and other safety and emergency protocols

Beyond the training, AICCRA collaborated with partner institutions to invest in critical safety measures that make safeguards awareness routine in operations, enhancing protection for workers. 

Depending on the needs of each university farm, these measures included the design and mounting of safety posters, the provision of PPE, waste disposal bins, separate and secure storage rooms for agrochemicals, as well as washing and changing rooms. 

“Through AICCRA, we have learned how to practice safe farming, and we are now doing so in a more legal manner. These safe practices have helped us avoid conflicts with the community. We have gained valuable knowledge from the project, which we are now sharing with farmers and students who visit the farm, enabling them to adopt good agricultural practices.” 

Dr. Grace Abucheli 

Senior Lecturer Department of Plant Sciences 

Chuka University

Tree planting

At university farm locations and landscapes which potentially contribute to erosion-induced river sedimentation, trees were planted to expand the land buffer zone between the university farms and river bodies. 

Over 2,000 tree seedlings have been planted, 800 of which were provided by AICCRA.

Monitoring and evaluation

Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) has been central to the implementation and enforcement of E&S measures agreed with the universities. 

The AICCRA E&S team conducted several monitoring visits, during which the team jointly reviewed E&S practices with stakeholders, identifying additional measures to improve outcomes. 

AICCRA works with national and regional partners across Africa to support access to—and enable the use of—enhanced climate information services and validated technologies and practices for climate-smart agriculture for millions of smallholder farmers across the continent. 

Through AICCRA’s innovative partnerships, CGIAR-led innovations are being delivered on a scale that meets the climate crisis. 

AICCRA is backed by the World Bank Group’s International Development Association (IDA), and AICCRA country teams prioritize the safety and wellbeing of farmers and the workers of partner organizations through principles of environmental and social safeguards, as outlined in the World Bank’s Environmental and Social Framework (ESF)

By prioritizing the protection of people and the environment, AICCRA partnerships on safeguards have enabled higher education institutions to meet international standards, and foster a culture of responsibility for environmental stewardship. 

Implementing principles of environmental and social safeguards has also become a means to improve occupational health and safety practices among employees, and strides are being made in recognizing that protecting and conserving biodiversity and natural resources are fundamental to sustainable development.   


Adams Kwaw, Environmental and Social Safeguard Lead, AICCRA Kenya

Assenath Kabugi, Environmental and Social Safeguard Specialist, AICCRA Kenya

Esther Nzuki, Communication Analyst, Alliance Bioversity-CIAT