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EDUCATION AND RESEARCH

The Centre is an excellent base for student field classes, expeditions and individual research projects at all levels. The locality is especially suited to environmental disciplines, anthropology and archaeology. Research-wise, much of the area is virgin territory, and there is great ecological diversity within a relatively short radius.




The main objective of the Centre is to provide residential facilities for school, college, and university groups pursuing fieldcourses and projects in subjects such as geography, botany, zoology, ecology, conservation, geology, rural development, anthropology, linguistics and local history.

Due to its location at a junction of areas of great physical and cultural diversity, the Centre is an excellent base for original research in a range of disciplines. The Centre is situated on alluvial strata at the foot of the western wall of the Great Rift Valley (see photo) at an altitude of 3,000 ft. Mountains rising to 12,000 ft immediately to the west and south are largely of Basement Complex rocks. The floor of the Rift Valley stretches away to the north, broken by volcanic hills and drained by the Turkwell and Kerio river systems which flow towards Lake Turkana.

Geologically the area is largely unexplored, but there is a tremendous variety, from Archaean and Pre-Cambrian formations rich in metal ores, to recent volcanic intrusions. This is also a zone of considerable faulting and seismic activity.

Ecologically the surroundings are extremely varied, ranging from high altitude indigenous rain-forest to semi-desert scrub, and supporting a very diverse fauna and flora. Two game reserves are close to the Centre: the Nasalot/Turkwell Gorge Reserve is accessible from tarmac whilst the South Turkana Reserve can only be visited on foot. Wildlife is not confined to the reserves but wanders freely.

The indigenous inhabitants are the Pokot and Turkana. The Pokot are divided into two groups - agriculturalists in the mountains who, in the past, maintained well developed irrigation systems (now being revived, see photo), and semi-nomadic pastoralists on the plains. The pastoral Pokot and the Turkana have remained attached to their traditional ways of life and the Masol Pokot along the Kerio River, in particular, use a great deal of body decoration and are only now beginning to have any fruitful contact with modern society. The historic irrigation cultivation of the Marakwet, western neighbours of the Pokot, has already been studied to some extent, but little work seems to have been done on the Pokot networks, many of which fell into disuse in the early 1900's.

Although the Rift Valley throughout eastern and central Africa has been of intense interest to archaeologists, it would seem that the plains of south Turkana and the north Kerio Valley are still largely virgin territory archaeologically, in spite of having been a major highway for migrants until the recent past. There is a real need for a simple pilot survey, to identify sites of interest. This could then be followed by trial excavation at suitable localities.