I am Benson Kenduiywo, a lecturer at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) in Kenya and a DAAD Alumnus.
I hold a PhD from the Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany. COVID-19 has presented unprecedented challenges to conventional ways of working in this 21st century. Personally, the period gave me an opportunity to respond to rigorous peer review comments of an article I submitted last year from a System for Land Based Emissions Estimations in Kenya (SLEEK) project that I worked on in 2018-2019. I must say I was pleasantly surprised that my rebuttal was finally accepted by the Modelling Earth Systems Environment journal in Springer, thanks to more time to address the comments. The manuscript is undergoing production.
Currently, I am a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Davis, Department of Environmental Science and Policy. As my project Quality Index Insurance Certification is based in East Africa, I am in Kenya most of the time. It is meant to establish an agricultural insurance certification body within the Regional Center for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) who is a partner in the project.
I have been going about my postdoc research fairly well. Though my first challenge has been weak internet. I am currently working at my upcountry home in Kitale, about 400 kilometers north of Nairobi. It has been very difficult to have productive video conference call meetings and webinars. On Monday for instance, I had to drive two kilometers to get 4G network connectivity. I worked in the car under a shade in order to run my research experiments on the Google Earth Engine platform. I also had some Skype meetings there before I returned home. Concurrently, I also managed to address reviewer comments on a paper that we submitted to the prestigious ISPRS congress that was to be held between in June in France, but was postponed due to the COVID19 pandemic. Our paper will however be published in the ISPRS journal which boosts the profile of the QUIIC project as it will reach many readers, highlighting current earth observation tools for agriculture that we have developed.
The 2G/3G spotty mobile network connection at home still enables me to respond to E-Mails and painfully browse the internet for journals. My 9-year old son now attends online classes via the Edmodo platform. At the moment, I am lucky that he can work with weak network at home. The school started by offering simple quizzes with multiple choice options that tolerate slow connections. However, I am pretty sure soon my trips to look for better network will increase once interactive virtual learning starts.
Nonetheless, I hope the efforts by the Kenyan government to improve network connectivity will soon make internet related challenges a thing of the past. Let us all stay safe as we endeavor to pursue the "unknown" future for now.
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