Susan Malaso and Simon Onywere, Kenya


I am Susan Malaso. I was born into the Maasai community at Sintakara Village, Narok County in the Rift Valley Province in Kenya where I spent my childhood. I joined Sintakara Primary School in 1995 and completed my primary education in 2003 within the required 8 years of primary schooling. I scored an average mark of 365 out of a possible maximum of 500 marks in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examinations. I then Joined Ruchu Girls Secondary School the following year (2004) and completed my secondary education in 2007 with a mean grade of A- (74 Points out of a possible maximum of 84 points) and therefore qualified to join a public university in Kenya under the Joint Admission Board. This turned out to be my golden opportunity to pursue my dream career in Environmental Planning and Management. I Joined Kenyatta University in 2009 where I have been learning and acquiring knowledge and skills among them; mapping and cartography, environmental surveying, Remote Sensing, Urban planning and design. 

Apart from the University course work, I have acquired GIS and remote sensing skills from a short course attended at the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD). I also had an opportunity for a 3 month attachment at RCMRD. This is part of the undergraduate programme requirement. During the practicum at RCMRD in May to July, I acquired more skills and which lead me to be introduced to MyCOE/SEVIR programme. After my undergraduate programme (I am now in my final year of study), I wish to pursue my studies in the field of GIS and Remote Sensing.

When I am neither studying nor working, I like to have fun by watching movies, reading novels and swimming.

As a MyCOE/SEVIR fellow I will be working with the team to map the areas that are prone to frost damage as an initiative to improved agricultural productivity. The project covers the Aberdare Ecosystem and will also involve mapping the impact of agricultural development on the Aberdare Ecosystem. The ecosystem is a source of two major Rivers in Kenya; the Tana River and the Athi River.


Dr. Simon M. Onywere and I am the Deputy Director, Research Capacity Building and Dissemination at the Institute of Research, Science and Technology, Kenyatta University. I am also a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Environmental Planning and Management, School of Environmental Studies. Before Joining Kenyatta University in 2001, I was the Head of the Department of Geography, Egerton University, Njoro, Kenya (1998-2001). I made my PhD in 1997 in Structural/Remote Sensing Geology from the University of Nairobi with postgraduate research support from University Science Engineering Partnerships in Africa (USHEPiA) to the University of Cape Town, South Africa at the Centre for Interactive Graphical Computing (Geological Science).  

I am involved in Integrated Watershed/Environmental Management Planning and have participated and trained communities and the Water Resources Management Authority Regional Offices staff in catchment management planning, with 7 participatory catchment management plans to my credit. I was a cluster team leader of 15 projects on Heavy Metal Pollution of the Lake Victoria Research Initiative (VICRES) projects, supported by SIDA-SAREC through the Inter-University Council of East Africa (IUCEA). In 2010 I lead a team of researchers from Kenyatta University and undertook “A Regional Disaster Risk Management Mainstreaming Study in 5 IGAD Members States (Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda)”. In the same year I was Lead Resource Person for IGAD Regional Workshop on Community Based Disaster Risk Management Training in Hawassa, Ethiopia, where 35 participants from the region were exposed to technical approaches on Community Based Disaster Risk Management (CDRM) planning. More recently (2011) I lead a team from Kenyatta University in Risk, Hazard, and Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment/Mapping in Support of Disaster Risk Reduction for Coast, North Eastern, Eastern and Rift Valley Provinces of Kenya for the Ministry of State for Special Programmes. I have done a number of other projects in the Rift Valley of Kenya and I am widely travelled in the East Africa Region.  

I am a Member of the National Platform on disaster risk management. I am the current National Chairman of the Kenya DAAD Scholars Association, an Alumni association of about 3,000 Germany Academic Exchange (DAAD) Scholars in Kenya. Memberships to regional networks include: Geological Society of Kenya (GSK); Regional Eastern Africa DIES Alumni Networking (REAL) on Quality in Higher Education; Water Capacity Building Network (WaterCap), the UN University Network for Disaster Risk Reduction in Africa (UNeDRA).  

My research interest is on development of Kenyan Environmental Database of Earth Science Data and Remote Sensing Applications. I have widely researched and published on the subject and in applications for integrated watershed management and disaster risk management.

Climate variability threatens food supplies in Kenya. Frost in particular has shown a tendency of increased frequency and severity that threatens agricultural production in high altitude areas of Nyeri, Nyandarua, Kiambu and Murang’a Counties within the Aberdare Ranges one of the few highland area and water tower in Kenya. Up to date information on agricultural production against such risk is crucial for decision makers and farmers. MyCOE project intends to analyze the temporal and spatial characteristics of frost within the Aberdare ranges. These characteristics will include mapping of intensity, frequency, duration, frost-free periods, aerial distribution and historical trends. Time series analysis of frost occurrence will be made using the Spirits Software. Frost hotspot maps will be determined for the area by means of remote sensing techniques and GIS tools, using MODIS LST products for the period 2000 to 2012. The project will emphasize on the growing seasons, when the impacts of frost on crops are most severe. Frost severity will be categorized into four classes of frost risks: low, moderate, high and critical/severe using ENVI 5 decision tree classifiers. The frost risks based on probability of occurrence will be related to altitude and aspect. Because of the very intense agricultural activity and the high sensitivity of the main crops (Maize, potato, etc.) in the counties, susceptibility weighting for various crop types will be done.