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.



How community groups help people living with HIV achieve viral load suppression

Jennifer Atieno, 54, has been living with HIV for the last 12 years.

Ever since she tested positive to the virus and was enrolled for antiretroviral therapy (ART), Atieno has been taking her medication without failure.

When we, a group of journalists from the Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture (MESHA) met her last week, she was in a group of other women and men who are also living with HIV in a homestead in Rarieda, Siaya County, in western Kenya.

They formed the group to encourage and advise each other to live positively with the virus. Their group known as Nyakongo Group has 12 members, who meet once every three months.

“In this group we discuss how best we can live and protect ourselves with regard to drugs we all take,” she said.

Before the group was established, Atieno got her medicine from a health facility after every three months. However, since last year when they formed the group she has been able to limit the number of hospital visits and save on transport.

“Each of us contributes Ksh10 and we give to one of us who goes to the facility and bring medicine for the 12 of us. We then agree on whose home we meet then each of us takes their drugs for the three months,” she said.

Nyakongo is one of the Community ART Groups (CAGs) under a programme supported by the Centre for Health Solutions (CHS), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO). The NGO has trained peer educators working under the programme.

“The groups should only visit hospitals twice a year because clients are supposed to take home drugs meant for six months,” said Millicent Kanyala, a peer educator at Madiany Sub-county Hospital in Siaya County.

“But they cannot go with the whole six months’ drugs, so they are given drugs for the first three months, then the refills are done after three months.”

CHS allows clients to voluntarily choose a community group they want to belong to. Members of each group has members who are familiar with each other to allow openness and peer interaction without fear of being stigmatised. Each group has a leader and the names and contacts of members are contained in the CAGs’ diary book.

“The diary informs me of when each group is supposed to visit the facility. So, I prepare the drugs well in advance and call their peer leader and tell them the date they will be taking drugs in their community,” said Kanyala.

CAGs are a model for ART distribution, where groups of people living with HIV rotate for clinic visits and drug refills while dispensing drugs to their peers in the community and ensuring peer support.

“The uptake is steadily good and every member wants to join community groups. So far, we have 90 community groups with a total of 822 members. In 2017 we only had 22 groups,” said George Nyakora, adherence counsellor at Madiany Sub-county Hospital.

In 2017 when Madiany Sub-county Hospital launched the programme, viral load (the amount of HIV in the blood) suppression was at 84 per cent. Mr Nyakora says this model has since helped the facility to achieve a viral load suppression of 96 per cent as at November 2021.

“Initially in 2017 the suppression cut off point was 1,000 copies/mL, currently it is 400 copies/mL. Anyone who achieves viral load suppression of below 400 copies/mL is considered to be doing well in terms of ART uptake,” said Nyakora.

He said viral load that is more than 400 copies/mL means the immunity level has dropped or is dropping and the likelihood of contracting opportunistic infections is very high.

***A MESHA ( Feature – December 2021


By Tebby Otieno



Stigma and side-effects slowing PrEP adoption

The idea of providing an antiretroviral (ARV) medication as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent acquisition of HIV infection by persons at high risk is now well established.

However, the full public health impact will be realized only when PrEP is implemented effectively at scale.

The UNAIDS has projected delivery of PrEP to 3 million persons by 2020 while the National AIDS & STI Control Program (NASCOP) projected upto 500,000 persons on PrEP by 2022 according to the national Framework for Implementation of PrEP in Kenya issued in 2017.

By George Juma I

Data from UNAIDS 2013 show that over 7000 young women get new HIV infections contract globally every week.

Despite having oral PrEP and other researches being conducted to get more forms of the vaccine which can satisfy the taste of users ,the oral vaccine has not been utilized maximally because of arrays of factors including peer pressure, inaccessibility of PrEPS to users among others.

Josephine Nyaboke (not real name) a PrEP user champion in Migori County says issues regarding the packaging of Prep, peer pressure among other remains some of the major challenges she is facing when championing for PrEP use among the youths and the adolescent. She said other side effect of PrEP on usersat the early stages of use has also made many of her clients to abandon the pill.

Nyaboke who currently has 47 clients introduce to the vaccine that she monitors every month to ensure that the drugs adherence level is met also said that delay in the issuance of PrEP at the health facilities has discouraged many of her clients.

The perception of many has been that the PrEP is only used by Key population which includes sex workers, discordant, truck drivers and men sleeping with men, however this is not the cases.

Nyaboke said she started using PrEP in 2017 after having felt at risk of contracting HIV due to the long distance relationship she is in adding that her boyfriend and the parents accepted her proposal.

During this year’s AIDS 2018 Conference in Amsterdam four weeks ago, PrEP was arguably the dominant subject with far more sessions devoted to it than any other topic and will probably also dominate the HIV Research for Prevention (HIVR4P) Conference in Madrid from October 21 – 25,This is a global scientific meeting dedicated exclusively to biomedical HIV prevention and research.

Kenya has made significant progress in the reduction of new HIV infections in the past decade through the scale up of comprehensive HIV treatment and prevention programs including PrEP. Despite this progress, over 70,000 Kenyans mostly aged 15-24 get new HIV infections every year. The story is the same across most of sub Saharan Africa where numerous PrEP initiation programs started in the last year. So far, Kenya has initiated PrEP in about 25,000 people at risk – but retention is a big problem.

Scientists suggest there could be several potential barriers to effective PrEP implementation that could derail the program if not addressed urgently. According to Dr. Dismas Oketch from the Kenya Medical Research Institute, there are anecdotal reports about stigma to PrEP use, lack of knowledge of and access to PrEP, skewed expectations from PrEP adopters, side effects as well as shame and hesitation to demand PrEP; which could negatively affect retention and adherence to PrEP.

Speaking to Sayansi in August in Kisumu during a science café organized by MESHA and AVAC, Dr. Oketch further reiterated that there could be some disconnect between what PrEP providers intend for PrEP and what what PrEP users want from PrEP leading to those who were initially enthusiastic about PrEP withdrawing from it. Ideally, PrEP use is not for everyone and should be limited to individuals at risk and during periods of higher risk when other HIV prevention alternatives are not sufficient.

He says the current trend shows that many people are not using PrEP as expected because of various reasons which they scientist continue to investigate. “Side effects and stigma remain the two most important reasons for PrEP discontinuation.” Despite these threats, Dr. Oketch believes “it is far much better individually, principally, socially and economically to prevent HIV than to treat a lifelong infection of HIV/AIDS.” As a result the KEMRI is exploring other alternatives to PrEP delivery than the daily oral pill. This new PrEP pipeline will include long acting injectable PrEP, PrEP implants and PrEP intravaginal rings.

Latest research conducted by non governmental organization, IMPACT Research and Development Organization (IRDO) in Kisumu early this year shows that sixty four percent of potential PrEP users would prefer the injectables.

According to Dr.Kawango Agot is a researcher working with the IRDO, the research which involved commercial sex workers also revealed that 21 percent of potential PrEP users prefer oral tablets while only 15 percent prefer the intravaginal ring.

In the study, Dr.Kawango said the sample group was placed on injectable, pills and ring Preps all placebo for a period of one month each to established the experience and taste of each participant.

Mrs Josephine Odoyo,a researcher with the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) at Lumumba centre in Kisumu county, says PrEP users have been giving a lot of feedback regarding the size of the pill, colour and even packaging of the pill.

The feedback they have been receiving from nearly 2000 users of PrEP, have occasioned new researches to see that the drugs is user friendly.