photo by Joseph Kipsang

Lake Nakuru diversifies its tourism products

By Loise Macharia

photo by Joseph Kipsang

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has diversified its tourism products at the world-famous Lake Nakuru National Park to include boating services and conference tourism.

The park’s Senior Warden, Edward Karanja said the diversification was to complement its traditional activities which are game safaris, pick-nick sites, camping and bird watching.

He said conferencing was a popular product under business tourism which came with the upgrading of Nakuru to city status in December last year.


Addressing journalist at the at the 188 square kilometer park during a media café’ on biodiversity organized by Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture (Mesha), Karanja said the park was still accessible despite most of the routes having been submerged by the swelling lake.

He said KWS spent millions of shillings to create new routes to complete the circuit around the beautiful lake that has almost doubled its size over the past 10 years when it was 44 square kilometers to its current size of 80 square kilometers.

“More than 24 kilometers road network have been submerged since 2010 when the lake started swelling. The organization has invested large amounts of money to come up with alternative routes including cutting through a cliff to ensure tourists get value for their money,” he said.

TOURISM Lake Nakuru National Park Senior Warden, Edward Karanja addresses journalist at the natural resources during a media cafe' on biodiversity organised by Media for Environment, Science and Agriculture (Mesha). Image: LOISE MACHARIA

The Senior Warden said KWS lost more than Sh400 million worth infrastructure to the welling lake after it submerged roads, power lines, offices, camping sites and staff quarters.

He maintained there was so much to see at Lake Nakuru which is among the largest revenue earners because the swelling lakes of the Great Rift Valley had caused a habitat modification bringing in new species of fresh water birds in search of fish.

“Lake Nakuru’s biodiversity is very rich, it is home to both salt and fresh water lake birds, however, there been an increase of fresh water bird species following the accidental introduction of fish into the lake in 2020,” he said.

Karanja said there was three new types of fish including the Nile Tilapia in the lake and a consequential increase of bird species from the initial 400 to about 450 currently.

He said the lake was home to millions of the lesser and larger flamingos but the numbers have since dwindled to about 6,000 due to a change in the water quality whose PH has dropped from 10.5 to nine.

The flamingo have concentrated themselves along the shores on the southern side of the lake where they were busy foraging and making nesting.

The scientists who accompanied the media team said it was not a rare thing to see flamingos making nest in Lake Nakuru although they breed in Lake Natron in Tanzania.

 The park had been classified in different categories among the an Important Bird Area (IBA), a sanctuary for Rhinos and the Rothschild Giraffe, a World Heritage Site by the United Nations and Scientific Organisation (Unesco) and a Ramsar site.

It was recognized for having the largest euphorbia forest in the world until 2008 and 2007 when it was cleared by fire.

A senior Research Scientist at the Wildlife Research Training, Joseph Edebe explained that that the euphorbia forest was easily razed down and completely destroyed because the plants’ sap is highly flammable.

“There are plans to artificially regenerate the forest because natural regrowth may take time due to destruction by the wildlife,” he said.

Mesha Chief Executive Officer, Aghan Daniel said biodiversity was key to life and underlined the need for reporting issues around it.

TOURISM Dead acacia trees on a section of Lake Nakuru National Park terrestrial area. Image: LOISE MACHARIA

“It means that we are losing vital information that the public needs to know If journalists are not going to cover biodiversity effectively, frequently and accurately,” he said.

He said the loss and damage is due to effects of Climate Change like the ones experience at the Lake Nakuru National Park which are some of the issues to be discussed at the Conference of Parties 2027 (COP27) slated in Egypt late this year.

He said the more than Sh400 million loss recorded at the park was just a tip of the iceberg as there were similar scenarios in many party of Kenya and Africa in general despite the continent having contributed the smallest share of greenhouse gas emissions at approximately 3.8 per cent.


Goat eating fete: MESHA Nairobi Chapter members converge to network, learn from each other

Aghan the story teller

By Jecinta Mwangi and Ogonji Ian 


What started as a goat eating party turned into a great learning and networking session for the members of Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture (MESHA), Nairobi Chapter.

The members converged at Paradise Lost, Kiambu County, on June 11, 2022, to let off steam after a busy half of the year. It was the first time the Nairobi Chapter was holding such a meeting, which was an opportunity to know each other and exchange ideas on how to grow MESHA to greater heights.  

The event brought together all categories of members, including veterans and founders of the organisation.

Before the veteran journalists settled down to share their golden past and wisdom in what was akin to a formal meeting, the younger members could not waste the chance to sample what Paradise Lost had to offer.

They literally got lost into a range of fun activities; from boat riding to a photo session in a natural environment that Nairobi residents rarely see, before everyone settled down for mouth-watering delicacies – roast goat, fried chicken and vegetables, washed down with a blend of soft drinks and high quality alcohol.

Then it was time for the veterans to spit some wisdom and share the journey they have walked with MESHA since its inception.

“Back then, our editors kept telling us that science doesn’t sell and they were not keen on creating science desks in newsrooms. So, when we formed MESHA, very few people took us seriously,” said Wambera Ojanji.

They also shared their personal experiences as journalists and writers, the highs and lows they have had during their careers, the challenges they faced and the good times, including the accolades they have received and the fulfilment that comes with doing their job and following their passion.

“Despite the harsh words from our editors, we did not get discouraged and the efforts eventually paid off. Soon enough, science stories started getting space on the front page of newspapers and we never looked back,” said Mike Mwaniki.  

The veterans encouraged the younger members, including students, to put in the work, be diligent and never be afraid to chase opportunities that come their way as they further their careers. They also spoke on identifying relevant stories and the whole process of coming up with a story from research to publication.

They pointed out how easy it is for the younger generation to research, authenticate and validate their stories as compared to the past when there was limited access to research and sources.

With the advancement in technology, getting information has been made easier. Research materials are just a click away unlike in the old days when one had to visit the library to get a reference.

They also emphasised on upholding the winning spirit within the organisation and supporting each other. MESHA journalists have won various accolades, with the most recent one being John Riaga who was appointed Science Journalism Forum coordinator for sub-Saharan Africa.

The younger members said they have so far benefited from MESHA and hope to learn a lot more from the entire membership.

“I have learnt from veteran journalists the best practices in the industry and from here I’ll be able incorporate this with the mentorship I have received to make my science stories better,” said Kairu Karega, a student journalist at the University of Nairobi.

MESHA Secretary, Aghan Daniel urged the veterans to continue mentoring the younger journalists.

“There are a lot of established journalists in MESHA. Some have been in the industry for over three decades and have accumulated knowledge on how to do different tasks. Take the chance to consult, network and ask questions. They are ready to guide,” he said.

Agatha Ngotho, a board member of MESHA, sought the opportunity to formalise the Nairobi Chapter and promised more such networking and fun sessions.

Mountain gorilla, Virunga National Park, DRC, Africa

Keeping apes and humans happy together the Ugandan way


Uganda’s population of gorillas continues to thrive, thanks to a One Health program targeting the residents living around Bwindi National Park.

“Over the last 25 years, our gorilla population has doubled. Our park is the only one that has been able to achieve this milestone in Africa. The other parks with gorilla populations are recording falling numbers,” says Dr Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka of the Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH).

The Ugandan veterinarian is also the founder of CTPH, an organization dedicated to the coexistence of endangered mountain gorillas, other wildlife, humans, and livestock in Africa.

According to the veterinarian, protecting the gorilla population was key for her organization when the COVID-19 pandemic was reported in Uganda.

She explained that the measures were necessitated by the similarity shared by humans and primates.

“The DNA of monkeys, apes and gorillas is quite similar to the human one. We share 98 percent of our genetic material with these primates, meaning that diseases can easily move across the species. This is why we had reports of gorillas catching COVID-19 in some other areas,” said Dr Kalema-Zikusoka.

She said there were cases of scabies among gorillas that would sometimes stray onto community land.

“After studying the incidences, we found that the apes were coming into contact with children’s clothing that was infected with the pathogens. Scabies is a disease associated with poor hygiene, and when children are not going to school, they can easily pass it to the apes by crossing their paths,” said the expert.

She made the remarks while making a presentation on One Health approaches to conservation at the Fifth MESHA African Conference of Science Journalists held last week.

The celebrated veterinarian has won several international awards, among them the Edinburgh Medal and the UN Planet Pesron of the Year Award, believes the scientific way is the proven option for dealing with societal concerns.

“Science is life. We should not only practice it, but also talks, write and post about it,” said Dr Kalema-Zikusoka

She added that the project to protect the gorillas had been in place long before the pandemic, adding that it took intensive engagement with the local community to accomplish its goals.

“We had to talk to the locals and educate them on the importance of conserving the gorilla population that was attracting tourists to the area. We also helped them draft income-sharing proposals with the park management,” said Dr Kalema-Zikusoka.

As a result of successful negotiation with park management, the locals are enjoying 20 percent of the park entry fees, among other benefits.

The veterinarian firmly believes that the One Health message is not too heavy or complicated for teens and children.

“We can spread the One Health message to the young people and children through talks in school, wildlife clubs and even the newspaper pullouts designed for children. It is never too early to start talking to them about the need to stay healthy while conserving the natural life around us,” she said.

Working with the park management, CTPH devised a system to protect the gorillas.

“We devised a social distancing protocol of seven metres between humans and the apes, in addition to enforcing a mask mandate and sanitization requirement,” she said.

Amos Rutherford of Legacy Seeds in Ghana

It’s a shame Africa begs for food with 60% of world’s arable land, says expert

African countries must increase investment in crop production in a bid to improve the continent’s agribusiness share in the global market.

Amos Rutherford, Team Lead, Research and Innovation at Legacy Seeds Ghana, said it was high time farmers in Africa knew their value in the global market and increased production from the current two billion tonnes to the possible 60 billion tonnes annually.

Rutherford said this is only attainable if farmers adopt modern and sustainable farming methods alongside enhancing value addition to their farm produce. He said this will give them a better bargaining power in the ever growing and competitive agribusiness market.

“Currently, since 2021, the global agribusiness market size is valued at $6.21 billion and is projected to grow to $154.6 billion by 2027, despite the economic challenges,” he said in his presentation at the Fifth African Conference of Science Journalists.

Rutherford said it is shameful that Africa as a continent has 60 per cent of the world’s arable land, yet it is food insecure.

The seed expert gave a snapshot of the challenges farmers in Africa face in the course of food production, including lack of quality seeds, crop nutrition inputs, drought, a land tenure system that does not allow commercial farming, pests and diseases, unstructured market systems and weak financial architecture.

According to UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) 2009 report, agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa has been underperforming since independence and the continent must now rise up and produce sustainable food and surplus for agribusiness.

Another report by the World Bank says African farmers and the leaders of their organisations are key players in mitigating these challenges affecting crop production.

“The narrative of getting relief food must end in Africa if we want to earn our dignity and respect as a continent globally,” Rutherford said.

He said sustainable crop production will ensure the continent has enough food to feed the ever growing population, create job opportunities for the teeming youth, enhance industrial revolution, and avert conflict and tribal wars.

MESHA Secretary, Aghan Daniel regretted that Africa’s full potential in agriculture remains untapped, hence the need to put in more efforts.

“It is time to stop complaining about issues and start taking action to improve on our shortcomings for a food secure continent,” said Aghan.

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Conference of the future: A journalist’s perspectives on the Fifth MESHA African Conference of Science Journalists

By Tebby Otieno I

As the MESHA Fifth African Conference of Science Journalists drew to a close last Friday, many things kept crossing my mind.


First, it must take a strike of some genius to organize such a big conference. The amount of work that goes on in the preparation of this conference must be enormous laced with a lot of hard work, I suppose.


The manner in which the themes were arranged to fit in snugly into four days, with the first day being set aside for health, the second day dedicated to agriculture, with environment, biodiversity and climate change being the main concern on day 3 – struck me with awe. 


Issues of what we do – reporting science journalism – fitted in snugly on day 4 – the last day of the Conference. This excellent, meticulous arrangement and planning only comes from experienced conference directors. I found this approach stimulating, enriching and professional. So logical were the presentations that as a first time attendee, I felt nothing but joy. When the conference began, within the first three presentations, my fear, mixed with anxiety, quickly evaporated, leaving me in the realization that this was a Conference of note. So, as they say, I sat back, listened and enjoyed.


At exactly 1am each subsequent night, we received the day’s conference bulletin! What a surprise! With barely any resources, the Secretariat managed to put together this daily publication with the alacrity of the Korean Sword! Whatever magic our Secretary, Aghan Daniel uses on his team to put up such an out of the world show, remains a mystery for me and perhaps to many MESHA members.


Wait a minute. And so where did the International Federation of Agriculture Journalists emerge from to make such scintillating opening remarks at the beginning of the conference!  This is yet another aspect that has left me in awe! The opening ceremony had three speakers, – our own MESHA Chairman, Mr Bozo Jenje, a representative of InfoNile, our partners in the Conference, Alis Okonji and Lena Johansson, the President of ifaj. She shed a lot of light on the Federation and stated that human rights and freedom of speech were key tenets in promoting science journalism.


The keynote speech, from Dr Samuel Oti left me thinking – how can I contribute towards decolonizing health rights and funding for my own African brothers and sisters?


The day of health…..mine. This was a gem. An experts spoke eloquently on how much hope there was in the introduction of the vaginal ring in the intervention against HIV that left me wondering – have all women of Africa heard of this ring? Then came the presentation on U=U by Dr Lazarus Momanyi, a Ministry of Health official. U=U basically means undetectable is equal to untransmittable. Good enough, I now know that adherence is key in wrestling HIV/AIDS. I asked our Conference Director, Nduta Waweru why they had to bring a science café into the conference and her answer was…..”Our funders, AVAC, okayed our request for this session, adding that it is rewarding to once in a while meet other journalists who ordinarily do not attend the cafes.”

I also noticed that this year, there were more than 5 sessions on biodiversity. Why the prominence to this branch of conservation? The organisers told me that since February, MESHA received funds from JRS Biodiversity Foundation to do a project called Journalists Acting for Biodiversity (JAB). This support enabled the invitation of four scientists to talk about biodiversity at the Conference.


Sessions on agriculture were mouth-watering. That there are 500 species of edible insects in Kenya was an amazing fact that has convinced me now to believe that insects have a big role to play in food security in Africa. From the agriculture session, I picked the knowledge that I need not worry about Genetically Modified Organisms since our endemic species are intact – in fact they are kept in a gene bank! And very country has its own genebank.


It was also cool to note that there is a fallacy about so called farmer saved seeds, as our farmers do plan what is called grain and not seed. Where are all these seed people been? I have kept on wondering. That there are regulations that seek to ensure that we do seed business harmoniously within the economic blocs. Even though I am an avid reader, I have decided that I will read even more. How come I have all along not known that there are continental guidelines the use of Biotechnology for food and agriculture? Thanks to the Conference now I know. It was gratifying to hear Dr Simplice Nonou, Head of Agriculture and Food Security at the African Union Commission talk about biotech in Africa and led us as journalists into understanding what is happening in Africa as a whole.


It was a brilliant idea to bring science journalists to share with us their experiences in covering climate change. I learnt a lot and will practice what I heard other journalists across the borders do. 


Callings on African governments and international agencies


If any event needs funding from agencies, the UN body, African Union, large and international NGOs, the Kenya Government etc – that event is the MESHA Fifth African Conference of Science Journalists. 


This Conference holds the future for African science and should hence be made BIG. It is that single event that provides a forum to showcase science being done in Africa. It is that gathering that acts as a single market where all the science done in Africa yearly can be brought together and presented to the masses – devoid of jargon. 


My take is that the Conference is that a must attend event by all who work in the space of science. It will require attendance from each of the 54 African countries, it can be our heritage where the West come to listen to us as they savour our science. 


I call on the industry players, producers of goods and services in Africa to come out and support the Conference. This conference can no longer remain low keyed. It must attract the high and the mighty!


Come on people of Africa and put money in this Conference.


MESHA Chairman

Pan-African science journalists conference opens

The Fifth African Conference of Science Journalists will take place from May 24-27 2022. This will be the second time the conference is held virtually.The conference, organised by The Media for Environment Science Health and Agriculture (MESHA) in conjunction with InfoNile/Water Journalists Association based in Uganda, will bring together over 200 international and local science journalists, communication professionals, scientists and policy makers. With the theme ‘Letting Science Live,’ the conference is a platform where stakeholders share knowledge and ideas on scientific issues in Africa; enhance networking between scientists, journalists, farmers, and traders; and explore ways of harmonizing the various policies on health, environment and agriculture.
“Participants will also deliberate on what promotes access to scientific information and use of geo-data in science communication. At the end of the showpiece, we hope to increase the interest, skills and knowledge of African journalists to pursue science stories,” says Bozo Jenje, MESHA Chairperson.
These objectives will be achieved through short presentations by selected experts in particular areas. Break-out skills training workshops will expose participants to techniques, tools, and new innovations in science reporting.

Fredrick Mugira, director, Water Journalists Association, said River Nile and Lake Victoria will also come into perspective during the conference.
“How much of Lake Victoria’s water is available for use by the riparian communities without hurting the ecosystem? Are just some of the issues that we will focus on.
Conference Director, Nduta Waweru, says the conference will also highlight issues of climate change farmer rights and biodiversity.
“Over the past few years, issues of biodiversity, especially on how policies and community involvement integrate to solve biodiversity challenges in Africa, offer an interesting perspective on how to address emerging problems,” she explained
The Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture (MESHA) is a professional association of science journalists whose membership includes journalists, scientists and communicators with a big foot print in African science journalism.
MESHA has a track record of successfully organising and hosting high-profile congresses and conferences that bring together hundreds of participants —journalists, scientists, donors and communication officers from across Africa to learn and share.

Dr Ed Mabaya during the launch of the tool to aid access to seed information at the AFSTA Congress 2022.

New tool to facilitate easy access to seeds now available

By Christine Ochogo|

Farmers in Africa now have an easy-to-use, digitised seed information tool that facilitates access to data that supports seed system development. Development Gateway – an IREX Venture (DG), The African Seed Access Index (TASAI), and Cornell University started developing the dashboard in 2019 to support policy reform by government, investment priorities by development partners, and strategy by private companies working in Africa’s formal seed sector. The new interactive digital tool dubbed Visualising Information on Seeds Using Technology in Africa (TASAI-VISTA) Dashboard will visualise and use data to support a fully functional formal seed system. Speaking during the launch of the tool at the 22nd African Seed Trade Association (AFSTA) congress in Djerba, Tunisia, a fortnight ago, Mainza Mugoya, TASAI Regional Coordinator, said the tool will enhance access to improved seeds by smallholder farmers in Africa.

The CEO of Development Gateway (DG), Mr Joshua Powell, added that the new interactive digital tool includes data from 17 African countries and displays 22 different indicators such as number of active breeders by crop, availability of basic seed, number of active seed companies/producers, number of varieties sold, and number of seed inspectors. He said that the quality and availability of seeds is a crucial component of supporting smallholder farmers to increase food security in these African countries, including Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, Senegal, Rwanda, Nigeria, Mozambique, Mali, Malawi, Madagascar, Ghana, Ethiopia, DR Congo and Burkina Faso. “By providing clear data and insights on country seed systems, the TASAI-VISTA dashboard helps partners identify where and how to create policies and investments that support farmers and their crops,” said Mr Powell. Dr Ed Mabaya, Research Professor in Global Development at Cornell University and Chief Scientific Adviser to TASAI, mentioned rising populations, climate change and other environmental aspects as key factors threatening food and nutritional security in many subSaharan African countries.

He emphasised the need to improve seed quality, this being one factor that can help in addressing these challenges and that decision makers need information on where and how seed quality and availability are lagging. This dashboard, he said, is one step towards making that information more easily accessible, user-friendly and actionable. “The TASAI team has been collecting country-level seed sector data since 2015, and we are excited to share this wealth of information in this new digital format.”

Seed sector stakeholders already rely on TASAI country reports as a source of valuable information, but the new dashboard will expand their access and allow for comparisons across time and space that were difficult to do previously,” Dr Mabaya said. He explained that the TASAIVISTA Dashboard was developed after an initial assessment of stakeholders in the seed sector. Following the assessment, Development Gateway and TASAI held a co-design workshop to get feedback and to validate initial findings before incorporating user responses into the final design. “Along with the public dashboard, DG and TASAI have developed survey tools for internal use by TASAI researchers, which have allowed the team to digitise their data collection and validation process. Data collected through the new tool is published on the dashboard after final validation,” said Dr Mabaya. For much of sub-Saharan Africa, rising populations combined with climate change and other environmental factors are threatening food and nutritional security.

Experts say timely availability of improved seeds at affordable prices is critical to improving food security, resilience, and livelihoods for smallholder farmers in Africa. Improved seeds, they observe, can deliver state-of-the-art technology to farmers, including higher yields, disease and pest resistance, climate change adaptation, and improved nutrition. According to Duncan Onduu, the Executive Secretary at Seed Trade Association of Kenya, over the last two decades, formal seed systems in Africa have been gradually liberalised, resulting in increased participation of private seed enterprises. His counterpart in Ghana, Augusta Clottey, welcomed the dashboard, saying that a competitive seed sector will ensure famers access quality seeds of improved, appropriate varieties at affordable prices to help attain food security in Africa.

The launch of the tool comes amidst findings of a recent report that stated that Africa still trades in both old and new varieties.


Edible insects can solve African food security challenge, experts advise

By Dareen Keana |
With the frequently rising prices of food items like maize flour, bread, fish, beef, milk and cooking
fat, it is increasingly becoming harder for Kenyans to afford three meals a day. High-protein foods
like chicken and fish are becoming an expensive delicacy for many people. In a bid to find
alternatives, enterprising and innovative individuals are now turning to insects as food.

According to Dr Saliou Niassy, head of the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology
(icipe) Technology Transfer Unit in the Environmental Health Theme Team, insect consumption in
Africa is not a new trend. Some of the insects commonly eaten as food include white ants, or
kumbikumbi, popular in the Western Kenya region. icipe, which collaborates with more than 300
partners worldwide, plays a vital role in entomological or insect research in the East and Central
Africa region as well as the globe. Icipe estimates indicate that more than 1,900 edible insect species
are consumed by over two billion people. At least 500 of these species are found and eaten across
Africa. “For instance, one kilogram of termites costs Ksh1,275 ($11) in Kenya. The number of insect
eaters is expected to grow to nine billion by 2050,” says Dr Niassy. Insect foods are higher in protein
content compared to conventional protein foods such as fish, beans and soya. Chicken and pigs
prefer insect-based feed compared to fish or soya meal.
The insect foods are quite affordable, and a stable source of income in sustainable settings. “A kilo of
r.differens or long horned grasshoppers costs around Ksh300 ($2.6),” Dr Niassy says. Dr Niassy says
the time is ripe for the continent to exploit its rich treasure of biodiversity to provide much needed
resources to its people, including food, with a special focus on conservation to maintain sustainable
use. Icipe estimates that Africa’s food import bill is expected to rise to $110 billion by 2050, with its
forest cover shrinking to less than 600 million hectares over the same period due to growing
demand for firewood and conversion of forests to farmland. During the same period, the continent’s
population, which was estimated at 1.3 billion in 2020, is expected to grow to 2.5 billion.
According to the estimates, the populations of more than half of Africa’s 54 nations will double or
grow even more by 2050 as a result of high fertility and improving mortality rates. At least one in
every four people, or 25 per cent of the world’s population will be living in Africa, compared to just
one in 10, or less than 10 per cent who were living here in 1950. This growth rate represents more
than double the current population on the continent, and will present an additional food security
challenge to the region.
Our solution to the expanded population’s demand for food, Dr Niassy says, is a change in the way
we eat by using sustainable and cost effective ecosystem services. The scientist believes food
security challenges can be alleviated by greater investment in the cultivation of insects for use in
African diets. “More than ever, it is vital for us to implement the adoption of a sustainable and
circular approach to ecosystem services for better livelihoods, food and nutritional security. One of
the ways to achieve this goal is switching to cheaper and more nutritious insect foods,” says the
Dr Julius Ecuru, the Manager of BioInnovate Africa, which is an icipe subsidy, describes the firm’s
approach to societal challenges as driven by the need to wisely use the resources provided by
nature. “BioInnovate uses science biodiversity to provide practical, affordable solutions to pressing
societal challenges,” says Dr Ecuru. As part of its work, BioInnovate is currently pursuing the black
soldier fly project that uses bio waste to feed the adult insects. Black fly larvae are used as nutritious
food rich in Omega 3 proteins. BioInnovate is working on the project with partners in Kenya, Ethiopia
and Tanzania. Another ongoing project aims to produce jet fuel using the ‘somaize’ or sorghum and
maize hybrid extracts.
The crop is used as food, while its syrup can be used to produce bioethanol that can be used as
aviation fuel and livestock feed. BioInnovate is collaborating with partners in Uganda, Kenya and
Ethiopia to implement the project. Dr Ecuru says biodiversity conservation and biomass stewardship
are required at the genetic, species and ecosystem levels, including soil and watershed
management. Pursuing the objective with the involvement of local communities in the target areas
will not only conserve the environment, but also create employment.

“Let us provide alternative livelihoods for communities that are biomass custodians, especially fuel
sources, farm inputs and markets, value chains and jobs,” he says. “Using science and technology,
we can optimise production and reclaim degraded environments,” adds the scientist. Dr Ecuru sees
an enduring potential for even more significant and game changing biodiversitybased innovations in
our economy. He also emphasises that further research and multisectoral collaborations are
required to actualise this vision.


MESHA trains members on mobile journalism as a holistic form of story telling

A media association, they say, is as good as its members.

For an association to prosper and keep on soaring, it must listen to the changing needs of her
members. And so, when members of our association, the Media for Environment, Science,
Health and Agriculture (MESHA), requested, through our very active members only WhatsApp
group for a training on mobile journalism (MOJO) last December, the leadership led by our
Secretary, Aghan Daniel, listened.

“We have to keep on with the demands of a dynamic and ever evolving media landscape, print,
online and radio lest our association becomes a dinosaur,” said Aghan during the opening of the
training held from March 31- April 1, 2022.

The training targeted journalists with a revolutionary approach to telling science stories in
keeping with a fast paced world.

Members, 15 of them, were introduced to the MOJO concept and its elements. Trainees heard
that MOJO is an all around multimedia solo reporting act in which the smartphone serves as a
complete production unit for collecting, editing and disseminating news.

Emmanuel Yegon, a multi-media journalist unpacked MOJO as the most critical tool for
journalists as it helps transcend many challenges facing journalists.

Yegon trained through a highly interactive classroom setting that included lectures, question and
answer sessions as well as practical assignments. He first unpacked MOJO as a form of digital
storytelling where a smartphone is used to collect or create data in audio, images and videos.
The smartphone is further used to edit collected or created content and to disseminate content. As
a full production unit, there is no limit on how far one can go to collect news, features and
relevant information.

He trained journalists on what he termed as a “new workflow for media storytelling where
reporters are trained and equipped for being fully autonomous.”

The first day of training was anchored on two key factors. First, that MOJO enables reporters to
undertake multiple production and content distribution activities using one single device.
Second, the audience have access to the same means of producing content allowing for them to
similarly consume content through mobile devices. As such, MOJO is a cross-platform and
digital innovation approach within the reach of reporters in far flung areas.

Participants discussed storyboarding, or story planning using mobile devices. They were also
taken through elements of a practical MOJO toolkit which includes a quality smartphone, a
microphone, a simple LED light, a power bank and tripod.

The trainees were also taken through the dos and don’ts of MOJO including not zooming while
recording images or collecting videos. Reporters were further taken through tips in image
orientation and direction. They were advised not to mix both landscape and portrait images while
creating content.

The viability of taking photos, videos, audio and graphics, editing and uploading to their
respective newsroom servers were also discussed. The trainer encouraged reporters to own or
have access to a smartphone and to develop skills on MOJO as this is the new frontier of content
creation, production and dissemination.

MOJO, in essence, participants heard, is a solo media production unit. Practical sessions
included how a lone journalist can use a single mobile devise to tell their story, from breaking
news, news features to more timeless human interest stories.

Reporters saw firsthand how they can achieve the greatest value from their smart phones as a
production studio in their pockets. This form of reporting is a cost effective platform, portable
and convenient.

For investigative reporters, it is a safe platform to discreetly collect information without
detection. By the same token, MOJO can help a journalist to stay safe when recording sensitive

MOJO is also flexible and a journalist can produce content at a faster pace. Reporters were also
taken through video recording apps or camera apps that can help them capture quality images.
By further connecting their smartphone to an external microphone, they can record quality
sound. This, Yegon says, is akin to putting an entire production unit in the pocket. More
importantly, an entire newsroom can put these simple device production units in the hands of
more journalists.

“Those lessons were the most interesting thing I had been through in the recent past,” said Rachel
Kibui from Nakuru. Her counterpart from Kitui, in Eastern Kenya, Nzengu Musembi added that
“the sessions were pretty educative. From this training, I can see myself being a competent
mobile journalist.”

By Joyce Chimbi

Biodiversity: Experts urge the public to embrace and protect insects/over 500 edible insects’ species in Africa

Biodiversity champions in Kenya and Africa have called on Kenyans to embrace and protect insects saying that they are very key in maintaining the ecosystem.

The head of Technology Transfer Unit at the International Centre of Insect, physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) Dr.Niassy Saliu said many insects which are playing key roles like pollination, decomposition of nutrient in the soil and also used as food might soon be extinct because they are not protected.

Dr.Niassy said many people have ignored the roles played by insects in the society adding that besides helping in issues of pollination, nutrient decomposition, some insects are used as food for humans. He said insects are very rich in nutrients like protein, zinc among others.

The head of Technology Transfer Unit at the International Centre of Insect, Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) said countries like Europe have embraced insects by even creating laws to protect insects, adding that the majority of the people are eating insects.

Dr.Niassy said such laws protecting insects which have been developed in some countries are also very necessary in Kenya adding that the people in Kenya should value the insects.

In Africa, there are over 500 edible insects while globally over 1900 insects’ species are eaten.

Among the edible insects in Africa include legend termite, spiders, beetles, mantids, flies,plant bugs,wasps;moth/butterflies ,dragonflies  and grasshoppers

By George Juma.

Migori County.

1st MARCH 2022.