Bio

Tobias O Nyumba, BSc MPhil PhD (Cantab)

Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Lecturer of Climate Change, Biodiversity and Development at the Institute for Climate Change and Adaptation (ICCA).

Political Ecologist with a keen interest in the relationships between political, economic and social factors with environmental issues and changes in the developing world, especially Kenya.

Dr. Tobias Nyumba CV

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Publications


2021

Nyumba, TO, Sang CC, Olago DO, Marchant R, Waruingi L, Githiora Y, Kago F, Mwangi M, Owira G, Barasa R, others.  2021.  Assessing the ecological impacts of transportation infrastructure development: A reconnaissance study of the Standard Gauge Railway in Kenya. PLoS one. 16:e0246248., Number 1: Public Library of Science San Francisco, CA USA Abstract
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2020

Nyumba, TO, Emenye OE, Leader-Williams N.  2020.  Assessing impacts of human-elephant conflict on human wellbeing: An empirical analysis of communities living with elephants around Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. PloS one. 15:e0239545., Number 9: Public Library of Science San Francisco, CA USA Abstract
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2019

  2019.  Training Course on Household Surveys, 19th March. Training Course on Household Surveys. Abstract

“to answer questions that have been raised, to solve problems that have been posed or observed, to assess needs and set goals, to determine whether or not specific objectives have been met, to establish baselines against which future comparisons can be made, to analyze trends across time, and generally, to describe what exists, in what amount, and in what context.” (Isaac & Michael, 1997, p. 136)

2018

Nyumba, TO, Wilson K, Derrick C, Mukherjee N.  2018.  Qualitative Methods for Eliciting Judgements for Decision Making. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. 9:2032., Number 1 Abstract
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Mukherjee, N, Zabala A, Huge J, Nyumba TO, Esmail BA, Sutherland WJ.  2018.  Comparison of techniques for eliciting views and judgements in decision-making. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. 9:54–63., Number 1 Abstract
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O.Nyumba, T, Wilson K, Derrick CJ, Mukherjee N.  2018.  The use of focus group discussion methodology: Insights from two decades of application in conservation. Methods in Ecology and evolution. 9:20–32., Number 1 Abstract
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Rose, DC, Sutherland WJ, Amano T, González-Varo JP, Robertson RJ, Simmons BI, Wauchope HS, Kovacs E, Durán AP, Vadrot ABM, others.  2018.  The major barriers to evidence-informed conservation policy and possible solutions. Conservation letters. 11:e12564., Number 5: Wiley Online Library Abstract
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Nyumba, TO.  2018.  Are elephants flagships or battleships? : understanding impacts of human-elephant conflict on human wellbeing in Trans Mara District, Kenya , England: University of Cambridge Abstract

This thesis examines the impacts of human-elephant conflict on human wellbeing and the implications for elephant conservation and management in Trans Mara District, Kenya. The District comprises communal lands bordering the world-famous Masai Mara National Reserve in southwestern Kenya. Trans Mara supports a range of land use types and provides refuge to one of Kenya’s large elephant population comprised of over 3,000 transient and 500 resident animals. This study used interdisciplinary methods to gain insights into the nature and consequences of conflict on the wellbeing of communities living with elephants. In particular, I used a combination of existing wellbeing indices and a set of indicators developed through consultations with local communities in TM to measure impacts of HEC on specific wellbeing domains. The results show that elephants still use the communal lands in Trans Mara but are increasingly restricted to the riverine forest remnants in central Trans Mara. However, there was no evidence of a further decline in the elephant range. Instead, this study points to a shift in elephant range against a background of increasing human settlement, land sub-division and agricultural expansion. The wellbeing of Trans Mara residents comprised eight indicators. Human-elephant conflict negatively affected peoples’ wellbeing, but the impacts were limited to certain dimensions. Elephants affected school-going children within elephant range. Attitudes towards elephants and its conservation in TM were influenced by the location of human residence relative to elephant refuge, diversity of income sources, and age and gender. Finally, conflict mitigation in Trans Mara is still elusive and challenging, but opportunities exist to develop simple and dynamic mitigation tools. The findings of this study have important implications for the future of elephant conservation in the face of competing human needs, both in Trans Mara District and elsewhere in Africa.

O.Nyumba, T, Wilson2  K, Derrick CJ, Mukherjee  N.  2018.  The use of focus group discussion methodology: Insights from two decades of application in conservation. Methods in Ecology and evolution. 9(1):20-32. Abstractdio.org

Focus group discussion is frequently used as a qualitative approach to gain an in‐depth understanding of social issues. The method aims to obtain data from a purposely selected group of individuals rather than from a statistically representative sample of a broader population. Even though the application of this method in conservation research has been extensive, there are no critical assessment of the application of the technique. In addition, there are no readily available guidelines for conservation researchers.
Here, we reviewed the applications of focus group discussion within biodiversity and conservation research between 1996 and April 2017. We begin with a brief explanation of the technique for first‐time users. We then discuss in detail the empirical applications of this technique in conservation based on a structured literature review (using Scopus).
The screening process resulted in 170 articles, the majority of which (67%, n = 114,) were published between 2011 and 2017. Rarely was the method used as a stand‐alone technique. The number of participants per focus group (where reported) ranged from 3 to 21 participants with a median of 10 participants. There were seven (median) focus group meetings per study. Focus group discussion sessions lasted for 90 (median) minutes. Four main themes emerged from the review: understanding of people's perspectives regarding conservation (32%), followed by the assessment of conservation and livelihoods practices (21%), examination of challenges and impacts of resource management interventions (19%) and documenting the value of indigenous knowledge systems (16%). Most of the studies were in Africa (n = 76), followed by Asia (n = 44), and Europe (n = 30).
We noted serious gaps in the reporting of the methodological details in the reviewed papers. More than half of the studies (n = 101) did not report the sample size and group size (n = 93), whereas 54 studies did not mention the number of focus group discussion sessions while reporting results. Rarely have the studies provided any information on the rationale for choosing the technique. We have provided guidelines to improve the standard of reporting and future application of the technique for conservation.
1 INTRODUCTION
Conservation social science has come of age (Bennett et al., 2017). From being an outlier and on the sidelines of the discourse on conservation, the importance of understanding human perspectives is now centre stage in conservation decision making (Bennett et al., 2017; Khadka, Hujala, Wolfslehner, & Vacik, 2013; Paloniemi et al., 2012). Within the repertoire of tools that conservation biologists can use, focus group discussion is a commonly used method. Focus group discussion is a technique where a researcher assembles a group of individuals to discuss a specific topic, aiming to draw from the complex personal experiences, beliefs, perceptions and attitudes of the participants through a moderated interaction (Cornwall & Jewkes, 1995; Hayward, Simpson, & Wood, 2004; Israel, Schulz, Parker, & Becker, 1998; Kitzinger, 1994; Morgan, 1996).

Focus group discussion is widely used in conservation research unlike some of the other relatively lesser known techniques such as Nominal Group Technique (Hugé & Mukherjee, in prep) and Q methodology (Zabala & Mukherjee, 2017). The method's popularity is closely linked to the rise of participatory research, especially the “active experimentation with focus groups” in the academic social sciences during the 1980s (Morgan, 2002). The technique emerged as a qualitative data collection approach and a bridging strategy for scientific research and local knowledge (Cornwall & Jewkes, 1995). Focus group discussion is perceived to be a “cost‐effective” and “promising alternative” in participatory research (Morgan, 1996) offering a platform for differing paradigms or worldviews (Guba & Lincoln, 1994; Orr, 1992). Sociologists and psychologists have used the method since the 1940s (e.g. Merton & Kendall, 1946; Merton, Fiske & Kendall 1956). However, its popularity and application has grown across a wide range of disciplines including education (Flores & Alonso, 1995), communication and media studies (Lunt & Livingstone, 1996), sociology (Morgan, 1996), feminist research (Wilkinson, 1998, 1999), health research (Wilkinson, 1998) and marketing research (Morgan, Krueger, & King, 1998; Szybillo & Berger 1979).

Focus group discussion is sometimes seen as synonymous with interviews, especially the semi‐structured “one‐to‐one” and “group interviews” (Parker & Tritter, 2006). Similarities between these techniques relate to the tendency to uncover people's perceptions and values (e.g. Hargreaves, 1967; Lacey, 1970; Mac an Ghaill, 1994; Sewell, 1997; Skeggs, 1997). Consequently, there are cases where authors have confused and conflated these two distinctive methods (Parker & Tritter, 2006). However, existing evidence on the role of the researcher and the relationship with the participants points to a fundamental difference between the two techniques (Smithson, 2000). Interviews involve a one‐to‐one, qualitative and in‐depth discussion where the researcher adopts the role of an “investigator.” This implies the researcher asks questions, controls the dynamics of the discussion, or engages in dialogue with a specific individual at a time. In contrast, in a focus group discussion, researchers adopt the role of a “facilitator” or a “moderator.” In this setting, the researcher facilitates or moderates a group discussion between participants and not between the researcher and the participants. Unlike interviews, the researcher thereby takes a peripheral, rather than a centre‐stage role in a focus group discussion (Bloor, Frankland, Thomas, & Robson, 2001; Hohenthal, Owidi, Minoia, & Pellikka, 2015; Johnson, 1996; Kitzinger, 1994).

The link between people's perceptions and their socio‐cultural situation is critical to decision‐making on natural resources since most people derive their notions, mental constructions and interpretations from their immediate surrounding and develop these from experiential knowledge (Berkes, 2004). Given the rise of participatory research in conservation over the last few decades (Bennett et al., 2017), it is crucial to reflect on the scope and remit of focus group discussion as a methodological tool. Currently, there is relatively little or no critical discussion on the merits and demerits of focus group discussion in comparison to other similar qualitative techniques. It is therefore difficult to ascertain when and in which context, focus group discussion would be most appropriate. There are no guidelines for best practice for the application of the technique in conservation literature. In addition, there are no comprehensive reviews of the use of focus group discussion in conservation to the best of our knowledge.

Here we assess the strength and weaknesses of the focus group discussion technique based on a review of its application in conservation in the last two decades. We first briefly explain the procedure of the technique and then provide an overview of the different forms of focus group discussion. On the basis of a critical analysis of the relevant literature, we discuss the merits and potential pitfalls of the technique. Finally, we provide guidelines for reporting future applications of the technique and suggestions to address key psychological biases that can impact group interactions.

Mukherjee, N, Zabala A, Huge J, Nyumba TO, Esmail BA, Sutherland WJ.  2018.  Comparison of techniques for eliciting views and judgements in decision‐making. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. 9(1):54-63. AbstractComparison of techniques for eliciting views and judgements in decision-makingdio.org

Decision‐making is a complex process that typically includes a series of stages: identifying the issue, considering possible options, making judgements and then making a decision by combining information and values. The current status quo relies heavily on the informational aspect of decision‐making with little or no emphasis on the value positions that affect decisions.

There is increasing realization of the importance of adopting rigorous methods for each stage such that the information, views and judgements of stakeholders and experts are used in a systematic and repeatable manner. Though there are several methodological textbooks which discuss a plethora of social science techniques, it is hard to judge the suitability of any given technique for a given decision problem.
In decision‐making, the three critical aspects are “what” decision is to be made, “who” makes the decisions and “how” the decisions are made. The methods covered in this paper focus on “how” decisions can be made. We compare six techniques: Focus Group Discussion (FGD), Interviews, Q methodology, Multi‐criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA), Nominal Group Technique and the Delphi technique specifically in the context of biodiversity conservation. All of these techniques (with the exception of MCDA) help in understanding human values and the underlying perspectives which shape decisions.
Based on structured reviews of 423 papers covering all six methods, we compare the conceptual and logistical characteristics of the methods, and map their suitability for the different stages of the decision‐making process. While interviews and FGD are well‐known, techniques such the Nominal Group technique and Q methodology are relatively under‐used. In situations where conflict is high, we recommend using the Q methodology and Delphi technique to elicit judgments. Where conflict is low, and a consensus is needed urgently, the Nominal Group technique may be more suitable.
We present a nuanced synthesis of methods aimed at users. The comparison of the different techniques might be useful for project managers, academics or practitioners in the planning phases of their projects and help in making better informed methodological choices.

Rose, DC, Sutherland WJ, Amano T, González-Varo JP, Robertson RJ, Nyumba TO.  2018.  The major barriers to evidence-informed conservation policy and possible solutions. Conservation letters. 11(5):e12564. Abstractconl.12564.pdfconbio.onlinelibrary.wiley

Conservation policy decisions can suffer from a lack of evidence, hindering effective decision‐making. In nature conservation, studies investigating why policy is often not evidence‐informed have tended to focus on Western democracies, with relatively small samples. To understand global variation and challenges better, we established a global survey aimed at identifying top barriers and solutions to the use of conservation science in policy. This obtained the views of 758 people in policy, practice, and research positions from 68 countries across six languages. Here we show that, contrary to popular belief, there is agreement between groups about how to incorporate conservation science into policy, and there is thus room for optimism. Barriers related to the low priority of conservation were considered to be important, while mainstreaming conservation was proposed as a key solution. Therefore, priorities should focus on convincing the public of the importance of conservation as an issue, which will then influence policy‐makers to adopt pro‐environmental long‐term policies.

2013

Ngene, S, Mukeka J, Ihwagi F, Mathenge J, Wandera A, Anyona G, Nyumba T, Kawira L, Muthuku I, Kathiwa J, others.  2013.  Total aerial count of elephants, Grevy’s zebra and other large mammals in Laikipia-Samburu-Marsabit ecosystem in (November 2012). Nairobi: Kenya Wildlife Service. Abstract
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Ngene, S, Mukeka J, Ihwagi F, Mathenge J, Wandera A, Anyona G, Nyumba T, Kawira L, Muthuku I, Kathiwa J, P Gacheru, Davidson Z, King J, Omondi P.  2013.  Total aerial count of elephants, Grevy’s zebra and other large mammals in Laikipia-Samburu-Marsabit ecosystem in (November 2012). Nairobi: Kenya Wildlife Service. Abstractciteseerx.ist.psu.edu

Wildlife managers can only effectively manage wildlife resources for posterity using
sound scientific data. Aerial counts of large mammals are major source of these data.In
Kenya, the counts have been carried out in various ecosystems since the 1960’s
(Thoulesset al., 2008). As of 2002, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) began undertaking
aerial counts of elephants and other large mammals in key ecosystems (e.g., Tsavo,
Samburu-Laikipia-Marsabit, Maasai Mara, Amboseli, and Meru) after every three years
(Thoulesset al., 2008; Litorohet al., 2008; Ngeneet al., 2011; Mwangiet al., 2007; Kiambiet
al., 2010). Therefore, the 2012 aerial count of elephants, Grevy’s zebra and other large
mammals in Laikipia-Samburu-Marsabit ecosystem is part of the 3 years’ monitoring
cycle adopted by KWS.
Five factors made the 2012 aerial count in Laikipia-Samburu-Marsabit ecosystem
important. First, the impact of the 2009 severe drought needed to be assessed. Second,
there was need to establish the impact of increased poaching of elephantsbetween 2008
and 2012 on the ecosystem’s population status. Third, notably also is habitat loss
emanating from sedentary settlements around major elephant migratory corridors and
former elephant rangeswhich has compressed the elephant range. This is a key elephant
conservation and management issue in the ecosystem. Fourth, human-elephant conflict is
currently the greatest problem associated with loss of elephant range as a result of land
use change and increasing settlements in formerly unsettled areas. Fifth, currently, the
area has the second largest elephant population and the largest (about 90%) in-situ
Grevy’s Zebra population in the world. It is therefore important to continue to monitor
the population of elephants and Grevy’s Zebra in the ecosystem to provide continuous
long term data for sound management. The aerial count was undertaken by staff
(research scientists, pilots, GIS officers, research assistants, and drivers) from different
conservation agencies.
The 2012 aerial count wascarried out by staff from KWS, LewaDown Wildlife
Conservancy, Laikipia Wildlife Forum, Northern Rangeland Trust (NRT), African
Wildlife Foundation (AWF), Mpala Research Center (MRC), OlPejeta Conservancy
(OPC), Space for Giants (SG), OlJogi Game Ranch, Borana Ranch, Department of
Resource Surveys and Remote Sensing(DRSRS) andMwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary,
Tsavo Elephant Trust, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and
Save the Elephants.

2012

Graham, MD.  2012.  A Wildlife Conservation Strategy for Laikipia County. : by: Laikipia Wildlife Forum, Box 764, Nanyuki, Kenya Abstract
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Graham, MD.  2012.  A Wildlife Conservation Strategy for Laikipia County. Laikipia Wildlife Forum. Abstractlaikipia.org

The earliest records of the particular affinity for wildlife that existed amongst Laikipia’s people date back to the mid 1920’s in the minutes of Laikipia Farmers’ Committee meetings. During that time, large tracts of Kenya, including the Central highlands, Kisii highlands and the Lake Victoria basin were teeming with wildlife. The above areas and much of Kenya lost all their wildlife, other than those which came under state protection in National Parks. Laikipia is one of the most notable exceptions to this trend. This conservation ethic preceded the Laikipia Wildlife Forum, so ours has just been an attempt to give it some structure, hence the Laikipia Wildlife Conservation Strategy. It has now come to be, and with it we hope to open a new era in practice and study of wildlife conservation. I would like to acknowledge the efforts made by Dr. Max Graham and the conservation committee in compiling and synthesizing all the views and information needed in such a strategy. The Laikipia Wildlife Forum does not expect this document to be a prescription of how we are going to preserve wildlife in Laikipia, but a guideline on the issues that will form a basis for the conservation partnerships we must forge for the future of people and wildlife in Laikipia County. Laikipia’s wildlife has always been a challenge, a source of pride, and asset to many people at many levels. However, since this wildlife lives in and amongst people, the context of conservation in Laikipia is wider than what is generally acknowledged. It involves a constant state of negotiations over multiple aspects, including pasture sharing, water sharing, use of forests, crop damage, livestock loss, and security. Over 60% of the issues to be dealt with do not involve any direct dealings with wild animals- they are issues that arise amongst people. The implementation of this strategy therefore will be a process of managing partnerships with ranchers, farmers, law enforcement officers, water users, tourism businesses, scientists and others. Laikipia is changing rapidly, with a high rate of settlement, housing development and land subdivision, forcing people and wildlife into adjustments to meet the reduced availability of resources. The Laikipia Wildlife Forum now faces the task of implementing this strategy. Through this process, we expect that valuable lessons will be learnt by all, resulting in a more cohesive society, environmentally responsible population, secure in their pursuits of various livelihoods. This is the reason why we regard this document as a guideline. It will necessarily evolve as it is implemented, because a static tool cannot ‘repair’ a dynamic problem.

2010

Graham, MD, Nyumba TO.  2010.  The use of electrified fences to mitigate human-elephant conflict: experiences from the Laikipia Plateau in northern Kenya. Fencing Impacts: A Review of the Environmental, Social and Economic Impacts of Game and Veterinary Fencing in Africa with Particular Reference to the Great Limpopo and Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Areas. :185–192.: Mammmal Research Institute, University of Pretoria. Abstract
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Graham, MD, Notter B, Adams WM, Lee PC, Ochieng TN.  2010.  Patterns of crop-raiding by elephants, Loxodonta africana, in Laikipia, Kenya, and the management of human–elephant conflict. Systematics and Biodiversity. 8:435–445., Number 4: Taylor & Francis Abstract
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Graham, MD, Nyumba TO.  2010.  The use of electrified fences to mitigate human-elephant conflict: experiences from the Laikipia Plateau in northern Kenya. , South Africa: Mammmal Research Institute, University of Pretoria.
Graham, MD, Notter B, Adams WM, Lee PC, Ochieng TN.  2010.  Patterns of crop-raiding by elephants, Loxodonta africana, in Laikipia, Kenya, and the management of human–elephant conflict. Systematics and Biodiversity. Abstractpatterns_of_crop_raiding_by_elephants_loxodonta_africana_in_laikipia_kenya_and_the_management_of_human_elephant_conflict.pdfdio.org

Recorded incidence of conflict between humans and elephants, in particular crop-raiding, is increasing in rural Africa and Asia, undermining efforts to conserve biological diversity. Gaining an understanding of the underlying determinants of human–elephant conflict is important for the development of appropriate management tools. This study analysed crop-raiding by African elephants (Loxodonta africana) in Laikipia District, covering 9700 km2 in north-central Kenya to identify spatial determinants of crop-raiding by elephants at different spatial extents. On average crop-raiding incidents occurred within 1.54 km of areas of natural habitat where elephants could hide by day undisturbed by human activities (‘daytime elephant refuges’). The occurrence of crop-raiding was predicted by settlement density, distance from daytime elephant refuges and percentage of cultivation. However the relationship between crop-raiding and six candidate variables varied with sampling extent, with some variables diminishing in importance at a finer spatial scale. This suggests a tiered approach to human-elephant conflict management, with different interventions to address factors important at different spatial scales. Our results show that small-scale farms are particularly vulnerable to crop-raiding at settlement densities below approximately 20 dwellings per km2, above which crop-raiding declines. Land-use planning is therefore critical in preventing settlement patterns that leave farms vulnerable to crop-raiding by elephants. Where human–elephant conflict exists, efforts should focus on identifying and managing elephant refuges, through the use of electrified fences where resources are sufficient to construct, maintain and enforce them. This approach has been adopted for mitigating human–elephant conflict in Laikipia and with a major investment in resources and human capital it has been successful. Where such resources and human capital are not available then efforts should instead focus on the application of farm-based deterrents among vulnerable farms.

2009

Graham, MD, Nyumba TO, Kahiro G, Ngotho M, Adams WM.  2009.  Trials of Farm-Based Deterrents to Mitigate Crop-raiding by Elephants Adjacent to the Rumuruti Forest in Laikipia. Kenya, Laikipia Elephant Project, Nanyuki, Kenya. Abstract
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2008

Nyumba, T.  2008.  Coping with Human-Elephant Conflict in Laikipia District, Kenya. : University of Cambridge Abstract
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