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Using PICS Triple Bagging Technique: A wonderful way to store grains and legumes

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In this blog, I want to talk to bulk grain and legume handlers who include farmers that harvest lots of grains, traders at our border crossing points in East Africa who import and export grains in bulk, grain store managers who store grains and legumes as they wait for peak season, and grain transporters who move our grains from the source to various markets. I want to address people who handle so much grain that they require sacks for proper storage.

A hermetically sealed PICS bag. Image courtesy of Purdue University

Every grain and legume buyer goes to the market with an intention of buying clean, good quality, and healthy grains for food or planting. This presents a challenge to most vendors who might have failed to handle their grain properly in order to attain the required standards. As we all know, quality begins from the farm where the grain is harvested, passed on to all handlers, and ultimately, to the consumer.

In the SAWBO video: “Properly Storing Dried Grains and Legumes Using Hermetically Sealed Bags,” we are taught how to store grains without using chemicals. To fully understand this animated video, I encourage you to watch it severally, and put the knowledge into practice. The video gives you tips on how to cut down on post-harvest and handling losses, get maximum profit, and enhance the quality and quantity of your grains.

Grains and legumes can be stored for long periods using hermetically sealed Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS) bags. These bags help prevent insect and mold damage during storage. The PICS bag technique is used to store maize, beans, rice, soy, and other grains and legumes by sealing them in an airtight triple bagging system developed in the USA by Purdue University.

I would like to draw the attention of grain and legume handlers to the fact that the PICS bag technology uses no chemicals and protect grains because they use the right type of plastic which makes them airtight when closed properly. Consumers could develop health complications and reactions when they consume grains and legumes stored using chemicals.

What are PICS bags?

PICS bags consist of two inner poly bags fitted inside an outer woven bag. Using these airtight bags, you can store grains and legumes for many months providing safe food for the family, seed for planting, and grain for selling.

The four steps in using PICS bags

There are four important steps to follow while using PICS bags;

1.         Inspect

Inspect your grain to make sure it’s well dried in the sun, free from pests, dirt, and pebbles. Remove all rotten, discolored grain and foreign objects while inspecting. Test your grain to ensure the right moisture content.

Separate all three layers of the PICS bag and inspect for any rips, tears, and holes. Make sure the layers do not have even small holes and tears which can allow insects and mold into the grains. Fill the two inner bags with air and hold the open end to make sure no air is escaping to ensure there are no holes. Make sure the bags are dry and clean before using.

2.         Fill

Filling these bags with grains and legumes is an interesting process whose steps need to be followed. Start by placing a smaller amount of grain in the first poly bag. Then insert the first poly-bag into the second poly-bag, and insert both in the outer woven bag. At this point, you should continue filling the inside bag while shaking from side to side to pack the grain and get rid of any trapped air. Do not fill the bag to the top because you need room to seal the bags.   

3.         Seal

To seal the first poly-bag, twist it until it’s tightly packed against the grains pressing out any   air. Tie the bag as tightly as possible with a string, once you have gotten out as much air as possible. Seal the second poly-bag the same way by twisting the top until it’s tight against the inner bag, then tie it tight with a string. Seal the outer woven bag the same way you sealed the poly bags.   

4.         Store

After inspecting your grains and filling and sealing the PICS bags, do not store the bags in direct sunlight. Keep your storage area clean to avoid rodents, avoid storing them against the wall, and avoid opening bags during storage. However, if you must open your sealed PICS bag, be sure to reseal it as quickly as possible following the same steps used before to reduce exposure to the air.

PICS bags can be reused for more than one season and can typically last for three storage cycles. Remember, it’s very important that the bags be free from any holes and tears before you use them again. However, punctured, and torn PICS bags can be used for other purposes like growing vertical gardens.

In summary, using PICS bags to store grains have the following advantages:

1.         Keeps grain safe from insects and mold growth.

2.         The good quality grain fetches higher prices on the market.

3.         Allows you to store your grain without using pesticides making it safer to eat and saving you money.

Hermetic Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS) bags are manufactured and distributed in Kenya by Bell Industries which has branches across the country. For more information on where to purchase PICS bags please contact:

Main office:

Main office:

Crawford Business Park

1st Floor State House Road

P.O. Box 18603-00500 Nairobi, Kenya.

Tel: 020-2368703

Mobile: +254 733 764 562, +254 722 806 861

info@bellindustrieskenya.com

Using rocks to save on firewood and charcoal when cooking

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We are losing our forests and bushes to increased human activities such as clearing land for settlement and farming, logging for timber production, and using wood for cooking and other purposes. This has caused some rivers to have very little water flowing, or even drying completely. The Kenyan government legislation and bodies charged with the responsibility of protecting our forests are not sufficient without the involvement of the common mwananchi (citizen) who should be educated and actively involved in conservation programs and efforts.  

The high demand for firewood and charcoal used for cooking has contributed to the loss of our forest cover. A task force report on forest resources management and logging activities in Kenya found out that by April 2018, the country’s forest cover was at 7.4% instead of a required 10% recommended global minimum. From this recommendation, we can say that indeed the war on stopping illegal forest and bush clearance activities can be won if baby steps are taken starting at the household. Families should also be encouraged to plant more indigenous trees and practice agroforestry, incorporating the cultivation and conservation of trees.

According to the SAWBO, Scientific Animations Without Borders, animated video on How to reduce firewood and fuel in cooking: Using rocks and a grate households can gain knowledge on how to use less firewood or charcoal by:

1.         Using rocks in cooking stoves, also called meko, in Swahili

2.         Arranging rocks in the cooking place

3.         Putting a grate under the stones

4.         Using rocks in a charcoal stove, also called “jiko la makaa”, in Swahili.

1. Using rocks in your cookstove.

Using rocks in your cookstove. Image courtesy of SAWBO

 Using rocks in your cookstove/meko allows air to circulate making the fire burn hotter and with less smoke. This means your food will cook faster. You will also save a third of your firewood when using rocks. But if you add a grate under your rocks, you’ll save the wood used by half.

2. Choosing and arranging the rocks.

When adding rocks, choose rocks that are about 5 cm in size which is about the width of three fingers. While arranging the rocks, they should not touch each other. Put them two fingers width apart to allow space for ash to drop to the ground. It is advisable not to use river rocks as they may explode endangering you and your family. Adding rocks reduces the amount of wood used by households considerably and eases pressure on our forests.

After arranging, place the wood on the rocks to help the fire burn hotter with less smoke. After putting out the fire, place the cooking pot/sufuria directly on the hot rocks which will continue cooking the meal for some time.

3. Putting a grate under the rocks.

When you put a grate under stones while cooking, it allows sufficient air circulation under the fire causing it to burn hotter with less smoke. That way your food shall cook faster. Adding a grate saves half of your firewood. The grate should be circular, about 22 cm in diameter (which is about the length of your foot) with legs 2 cm high (which is about the width of two fingers), to keep the grate a little off the ground to allow air to flow under it. You can then arrange small rocks on the grate leaving space in between so that they don’t touch each other. Place the firewood on the rocks.

4. Using rocks on a charcoal stove/jiko.      

Rocks work in charcoal cookstoves, or jikos, too. This will save a fifth of your charcoal. You will have to arrange 1-2 cm rocks (about two fingers width) on the grate. Place them 1-2 cm apart (about the width of 1-2 fingers)then put the charcoal on the rocks. This will save you charcoal and money because you’ll need to buy and use less charcoal. 

What to always remember.

  • When using rocks in your outdoor cookstove, you save a third of your firewood.
  • When using rocks and grate, you save half your firewood.
  • When using rocks and grates, there will be less smoke which can be better for a healthy family.
  • Remove the cooled ashes from around the rocks daily.
  • If you use maize cobs for cooking and use rocks and a grate, you’ll save half your maize cobs.
  • Rocks can also be used on charcoal cooking stoves or jikos and saves you a fifth of your charcoal.

After reading this post, please download and watch the video then share it widely with friends and family. It might take an individual to destroy our environment, but it requires an entire community to conserve nature and benefit future generations. That community starts with you, my reader. Markedly, this video animation is in English and Swahili.


INCREASING PEER-TO-PEER SHARING OF SAWBO RAPID CONTENT

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After an upsurge in COVID-19 infections across the East Africa region, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda governments issued travel restrictions and imposed quarantines on their citizens. Medical facilities reported an increase in COVID-19 patients and registered an increase in Coronavirus related deaths.

This trend is worrying. Hence the need for a concerted effort by government, private institutions, and individuals to combine resources and fight the scourge. Restrictions on movement has slowed down extension service activity and increased the use of social media in sharing information by peers in farming, health, and community development. 

As a part of this trend, in the last two months there has been a build-up in downloading, watching, and sharing of SAWBO RAPID animated content from their website and through sharing through WhatsApp networks.

The Feed the Future Scientific Animations Without Borders Responsive Adaptive Participatory Information Dissemination Program (SAWBO-RAPID) project of Scientific Animation Without Borders (SAWBO) has produced animations identifying critical food security topics and delivering knowledge to mitigate COVID-19’s secondary economic impacts, including disruption to trade, supply chains and markets. The project is based at Michigan State University and Purdue University in the U.S., funded by USAID under the Feed the Future initiative, and supported by the USAID Kenya Mission. SAWBO has been creating animations and delivering knowledge globally for over a decade. The SAWBO library contains over 1,000 animations on 100+ different topics in over 240 language variants reaching over 50 million known viewers. Visit the SAWBO website  for more information.

Kataru Concepts activated its network covering 200 constituencies out of the 310 in Kenya using the SAWBO RAPID videos. The network is comprised of farmers, healthcare workers, professionals, and businesspeople. Network members established social media platforms through which they shared several animated videos in local languages and dialects. As given in the map below, we have been able to get materials out into many regions across the country using the WhatsApp platform and our cross-country network.

 In a coordinated effort, our WhatsApp network participants shared animated videos on stopping COVID-19 infections as well as videos that deal with helping people to minimize the secondary impacts of COVID-19.  This crisis has impacted many people around food security and the SAWBO RAPID videos also deal with these issues.  Each of the 200 members of our WhatsApp networks were tasked with targeting at least ten other people, WhatsApp groups they belong to, and over 50 individuals in their phone contacts. The animations shared under this mass-sharing activity include:

Marketplace Seller: how to safely sell in the marketplace during COVID-19

English:                       https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/1124

Swahili:                       https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/1149

Marketplace Shopper – on how to safely shop in the marketplace during COVID-19

Chonyi:                       https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/1248

English:                       https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/12199

Giryama:                     https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/1229

Kamba:                        https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/1221

Nandi:                        https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/12166

Pokot:                         https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/1226

Marketplace Manager – on how to safely manage a marketplace during COVID-19

English:                       https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/11800

Mask Animation

English:                       https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/1254

Kipsigis:                      https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/12688

Luo:                             https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/1277

Bukusu:                       https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/1075

Duruma:                      https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/1165

Embu:                          https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/1134

In addition to the SAWBO RAPID market videos, network members also shared the “Jerrycan Bean Storage” video” to drive farmers towards food security during the uncertainty of COVID-19.

To reach as wide an audience as possible, the animations are available in several local languages and dialects. I encourage my readers to take time to watch and download the shared videos using the links provided and share them widely within your personal networks.

Postharvest Loss: Jerrycan Bean Storage (FTF)

 English:                      https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/1113

Giryama:                     https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/1116

Gusii:                           https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/1115

Kamba:                        https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/10777

Kikuyu:                       https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/1080

Kipsigis:                      https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/1118

Luhya-Idakho:            https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/1125

Luhya-Isukha:             https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/1133

Luhya-Kabras:            https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/1127

Luhya-Khayo:             https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/1112

Luhya-Kinyala:           https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/1131

Luhya-Kisa:                https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/11322

Luhya-Marachi:           https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/1126

Luhya-Maragoli:         https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/11222

Luhya-Marama:           https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/1128

Luhya-Samia:              https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/11366

Luhya-Tsotso:             https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/1129

Luhya-Wanga:            https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/1130

Luo:                             https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/1078

Maasai:                        https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/1081

Meru:                           https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/1082

Mijikenda-Kauma:      https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/1138

Nandi:                                     https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/1083

Pokot:                          https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/1120

Sabaot:                        https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/1117

Somali                         https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/1135

Swahili                        https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/1009

Taveta-Taita                https://rapid.sawbo-animations.org/video/1140

Meanwhile as the sharing of videos continues, the Kataru Concepts network is expanding with a goal to cover the remaining 22 counties of Kenya and extend to neighboring countries.

I also take the pleasure of reminding us all that COVID-19 is real. Please ensure you wear masks properly, maintain safe physical distancing whenever outside your home, shop for household supplies safely, and continue washing and sanitizing your hands often.

Disclaimers:

Note: The information and content in the video (content) should not substitute for professional or medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any kind. Michigan State University, Purdue University, and SAWBO disclaims responsibility or liability for any loss or injury that may be incurred as a result of the use of any content included in the video. Viewers and users of the video should always consult a physician or other professional for diagnosis, treatment and/or advice. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of the content of this video.

SAWBO RAPID is funded through a grant from Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative. This blog article was made possible through support provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development under the terms of agreement no. 7200AA20LA00002. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Agency for International development or the U.S. government.

How to make sharing SAWBO animation videos FUN

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Sharing a SAWBO Animated video from iPad. Picture by Kataru Concepts

I have been sharing Scientific Animation Without Borders (SAWBO) animation videos for more than a year and have discovered that it’s fun and enjoyable. The moment I choose a video, I imagine its impact to the person or group I intent to share with, and how it will change their lives and practice to give better results. I relish the excitement and satisfaction on attaining certain goals in agriculture, health, social development or just organizing the way a women’s group runs its affairs.

“Where is the fun in sharing?” you may ask

To answer this question, I will explain the fun in the process of sharing the videos. 

Seek to understand the end user needs

Various user challenges require solutions found in different animation videos. The moment you start understanding the end user’s needs, it will be easy selecting the right video to share.

  • Understand the needs of your audience; be it an individual, group of people, community, organization, or institution.
  • Seek to know what they do, the challenges they face, and the desired results.
  • Determine what results are expected by your audience. This will guide you in selecting the requisite video.
Sharing SAWBO Animation. Image Courtesy SAWBO, Photographer-Andrew Akolo

End user’s needs vary; a community facing a health challenge, a women or youth group facing management hurdles, a person wishing to convert their farm waste into compost fertilizer all need to be directed to the appropriate videos. Seeking to understand the end user needs is key to selecting the right video that solves their problem.

Get to know SAWBO video categories and languages available

By understanding what video categories and languages are available, one can recommend the appropriate video after assessing the user needs and challenges. Ability to quickly choose and share the right video increases the user confidence and wins their trust in the disseminator. Identifying the SAWBO videos and categories such as health, agriculture, women’s empowerment, peace and justice, economics and climate change resilience is key.

Watch and internalize the animation videos

After understanding the categories, one needs to watch and internalize animation video content to be able to refer their users with ease.  Watching the animations will help you to identify what video suits the end user in question. My advice is to watch a video more than once to understand the steps outlined, capture the procedure without skipping any detail, own it, then begin the dissemination journey. As you prepare to share the videos, imagine how your end users will learn from the animations. Imagine the joy farmers, health workers, women ‘chamas’ (groups), environmentalists, and other recipients will feel after the knowledge they gain from the videos improves their practices and service to the community.

Choose the dissemination mode

The next step is to decide how to disseminate the videos you’ve selected. To do this, consider the type of gadgets available to you and the end user. Consider the type of phones, whether they share content via Bluetooth, Xender, or social media platforms. SAWBO animation videos come in different formats that can be downloaded and watched on computer as .mp4, broadcast on television as .mov, viewed on Android phones as .3gp, and basic cell phones (also referred to as mulika mwizi with Bluetooth technology) as .3gp Lite. Find the right gadget to use in the dissemination process. In case of large groups of end users, encourage the sharing via Bluetooth and social media platforms. Projectors and large TV screens can also be used to train large groups.

An image showing a SAWBO Animation download page with different video formats. Image Courtesy SAWBO.

Use the closest language or dialect your group can easily understand

Before you download a video for use in training or sharing with your end users, consider the language or dialect preferred by the community. Most animation videos have been translated into several national, local languages, and dialects which makes them user friendly. If the preferred local language translation is not available, select a video in the closest language that your group can easily understand. Always remember to send a request for a video translation into your local language and dialect to Kataru Concepts via kataruconcepts@gmail.com or SAWBO via cox377@purdue.edu.

Decide on the sharing approach

The approach used to share SAWBO video content is vital in setting the magnitude of the impact. You can approach individuals and share useful videos, or have training sessions with organised groups of interest such as CBO’s, NGO’s, etc. Sharing videos with friends and family is good and grows a user’s network gradually. Sharing relevant videos in family meetings, structured group meetings, or organized trainings and seminars reaches lots of users in a short while than approaching individuals. Whichever approach you decide to use, always encourage your recipients to share widely with family, friends and to all social media groups they subscribe to. Regardless of your sharing approach, first and foremost, please adhere to all guidelines designed to limit the spread of COVID-19. Safety must be your first priority.

Use social media platforms

Social media platforms have come in handy in sharing digital content. The COVID-19 outbreak has limited movement and increased the use of platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook in sharing information, organizing meetings, mobilizing activities, and running events. SAWBO animation videos can be shared on WhatsApp too. Creating WhatsApp groups of common interest users is a milestone in the sharing of vital information. An insatiable thirst for knowledge has increased the intake and use of digital content especially if it’s as helpful as what SAWBO provides in animation videos. End users love short, precise, and detailed videos that outline basic procedures without leaving out vital information. Consumers are looking for digital content in form of brief write-ups, instruction manuals, videos, and audio recordings which can be downloaded and shared easily; content that promotes the “Do-It-Yourself” approach.  Incidentally, that is what SAWBO provides!

Establish video sharing networks

Assuredly, when digital content consumers discover that you always provide good educative content, they will keep coming back for more by opening anything and everything you share on all platforms. You shall have captured their confidence and expectations. Now this is the culture every content manager needs to cultivate and use to the maximum. Establish a reputation for providing good content (SAWBO animation videos). Build a network of confidants that can share whatever you share with them widely. Build a network with persons of influence in their communities. Put together a team of people whose opinion is valued and words will be taken seriously, people who understand their community’s needs and know what groups are available, the nature of projects and programs they run, and how to create an entry point and place SAWBO digital content at the group’s core. Use these contacts to expand your network and extensively disseminate the animation videos widely.

When you do what I have outlined above, sharing SAWBO animation videos will always be fun, exciting, and fulfilling!

Note: The information and content in SAWBO videos (content) should not substitute for professional or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment of any kind. Michigan State University, Purdue University, and SAWBO disclaims responsibility or liability for any loss or injury that may be incurred as a result of the use of any content included in any SAWBO video. Viewers and users of the videos should always consult a physician or other professional for diagnosis, treatment and/or advice. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of the content in a SAWBO video.

Let’s conserve the environment.

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By Messry Lung’atso

I recall how my primary school teacher made me understand the meaning of the word environment. She simply put it as things that surround us. We would then look around and name them out loud. Trees, soil, grass, the sky, the rivers, forests. All these we mentioned excitedly as we were having an outdoor class. It was then that we were first introduced to the concept of conservation.

Tree seedlings ready for planting. Picture by Abdalla Emmanuel Mutawali

It is not a sophisticated concept as many of us like to think of it. Conservation is basically maintenance, ensuring our environment is clean, safe, secure, and sustainable. By so doing, we are responsibly managing the environment and its resources for our present and future generations and needs.

As a child, I loved the great outdoors and so I took a keen interest in conservation. Then I looked at it from the point that I would be happier with my environment remaining just as beautiful. We have been experiencing unprecedented population growth in the past few years. This has led to an increased need for settlement. Many forests have been cut down to give space for settlement. A decrease in the acreage of trees had adverse effects on the environment at large.

Conservation entails planting many more trees than we cut down. Planting a tree occasionally is a great way to give back to mother earth. Trees serve to control carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Having fewer trees and vegetation poses a risk of climate change. Furthermore, the increased population has also led to poor waste disposal and therefore pollution. Pollution causes about 9 million deaths as a result of dirty air. Plastic pollution for instance has badly affected marine life.

We need to relook our consumption habits. The more we consume, the more we deplete the earth’s resources. Various industries have largely contributed to excessive use and abuse of resources. Some processing industries go as far as releasing harmful waste to rivers, and the atmosphere. In the long run, this tampers with biodiversity as many species die from the consumption of this harmful waste.

Our thirst to have more, produce more, and consume more has blinded us to the harm we cause. It may be by us taking up the initiative to learn and understand what needs to be done henceforth. For instance learning and adapting the use of alternative sources of energy that are renewable will be a great way to start. Human activities like the burning of coal are among other activities that result in climate change. Renewable sources like solar energy and wind power are the best way to go in terms of every use.

Conservation may also include simple habits like organizing community clean-ups. Cleaning does not only make our environment maintain its beauty but it also improves our quality of life. This may mean encouraging school-going children to take up this activity, our individual community groups, and volunteers to come in and be physically involved.

It is the simple steps towards conservation that count. I would encourage that more and more children are brought to light in regard to the environment and conservation. They need to take up this early to secure their future.

It is from the soil that life sprouts. It is from the sky that showers grace our fields. From the forests, trees, vegetation our food comes. From the seas, we are not only blessed by its magnificent beauty but also marine life from which we get food. Everything we as humans are, we owe it to the environment, to nature, to the earth.

It is our sole responsibility to stay accountable and be responsible. To make sure we conserve the environment as did the generations before us. Our future looks down on us to mend our ways for them to the best too. We can make the earth a better place, clean, safe, and secure. Let’s all join hands in our pursuit of a clean environment. Let’s conserve the environment!

CULTURE AND HEALTH IMPACTS OF FGM

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By Moseti Elisha

One of the tools used in FGM. Picture by Kataru Concepts.

Female Genital mutilation is the major factor that has largely contributed to early marriages among many school girls. Not only that, but it has also contributed to a good percentage of young girls seeking medical attention as a result of health complications caused by FGM, to some extent even loss of life. Do we stand losing anything if we stopped practicing it?

Social-cultural setups in our communities are meant to bring about solidarity, but it is our responsibility to ensure that such practices don’t undermine justice and hence affecting our young girl’s reproductive health choices.

Modernization and reconstruction of our societies do not mean abandoning our cultures but ensuring our practices are aligned also to good mental health status for our girls. FGM can trigger lifetime psychological disturbances, anxiety, somatization, phobia, and low self-esteem. It’s unnecessary and also inhuman to Subject our future generation to practices that are not meant to engender a prolific society.

We are the custodians of our cultures. That role burdens us with the duty to fight inequality.  To reduce the cultural tensions that might result from the fight against FGM, our conversations can begin at the family level. This will accelerate progress in the abandonment of the practice and also create an avenue for knowledge sharing about the consequences of FGM.

Health impacts of FGM have received different levels of attention both in terms of intervention and evidence. There is a need to communicate this evidence base to a range of stakeholders, taking into consideration that key messages are carefully crafted to ensure appropriate interpretation and guidance for action.

This approach is especially important when using this evidence for medical and behavior change intervention. Information on health consequences would be of most use in both hospital facilities & community settings.   

Furthermore, the recommended interventions for preventing and addressing FGM seek to address it as a practice rooted in gender-based discrimination and social norms plus other forms of violence against women and girls. Women’s health is a human right issue and women empowerment cannot be separated from issues related to women’s health.

Moving forward, evidence to end FGM, research to help girls and women thrive, plans to collaborate with policymakers, development partners, professional regulatory bodies, trainers, and other key stakeholders to review culture and practices that are deemed sacrosanct but retrogressive and detrimental to women’s health and empowerment.

Culture is our identity and identity can be a custodial we can never escape but if indeed we want to redeem ourselves and our historical ways of life, we need to primarily try and understand our identity and use it as a foundation to grow and transform our communities.

ECONOMIC IMPACTS OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

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By Daniel Mwambi Mogere

Health is a fundamental issue that is why in most definitions of what health is, it can only best be defined as a “state of complete physical, mental and social well–being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.” Our First coronavirus outbreak case as a country was confirmed by the ministry of health in Nairobi on12th March 2020.  A Kenyan citizen who traveled back to Nairobi from the United States via London was the victim. Since then the number of COVID-19 positive cases has been escalating exponentially.

A bean crop. Picture by Kataru Concepts

The COVID-19 epidemic has globally affected the economy of many nations. The post-COVID-19 effects show that the pandemic will push millions of people into extreme poverty with the most affected being women and girls. Coronavirus effect has also been reported to increase unemployment among people and subsequently pushing most SMEs businesses to closure hence pulling down the economy. More broadly, we continue to see the pandemic, inflation, and supply chain disruptions as the top three threats to the country’s economic growth.

According to the Kenya National Bureau of statistics and partners confirm that the private sector is facing slowed activities due to reduced consumption and demand for inputs. Coronavirus has adversely affected the tourism sector with a reduction in the number of foreign tourists coming to Kenya. The transport sector has also been affected as the number of people using public service vehicles has reduced and sought to private means. We continue to fight the pandemic as well as keep the economy afloat. The government should be encouraged to put measures in place that can help small businesses to thrive despite the rising cases of COVID-19.

Properly wearing a face mask to fight COVID-19. Picture by Kataru Concepts.

Due to the introduction of curfew and limiting the movement of people, many industrial activities have stopped causing job losses. Measures were taken by the government to slow the spread of COVID-19 resulted in to increase in the cost of transport and living but nonetheless, it has helped reduce the spread significantly. Requirements by every passenger to wear a face mask and having sanitizers at every boarding point have demonstrated to be an effective approach in managing the spread of the virus.

Another challenge that has been created by coronavirus is food insecurity. Farming activities have been scaled down, supply chains stopped, extension services disappeared, as the demand for good quality food increases. It’s time for our young people to readdress the issue of unemployment by tapping into the agriculture sector. Through technology and available knowledge, our youth will be able to address the unemployment crisis and put in place food security measures, and avert a future crisis as the global population grows. An anonymous writer once said “We need to address our global challenges with designated thinking, by using human-centered techniques i.e., empathy, innovation, and creativity. We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them”. The feed the future initiative can grow wings if young people are leading the agriculture sector through technology.

Emmanuel Buchichi, a Kakamega county Youth leader on his sukuma wiki farm. Picture by Kataru Concepts

GOING SHOPPING? STAY SAFE FROM COVID-19

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Market place safety by buyer | Picture Courtesy SAWBO, photographer-Gerald Andrew Akolo

In the morning while on my way to the office, I noticed public transport vehicles packed to full passenger capacity after the Kenya government lifted travel restrictions. I then realized that being a Friday and a market day across the county, most travelers were rushing to the market centers to buy food rations, seed for planting the second season, sell farm produce and other goods, or even do window-shopping. While in Kakamega town, which is the economic hub of western region, I noticed lots of revelers headed to the main market; as others struggled to load goods they had bought on public transport vehicles to ferry to their homes.

The beehive of activities got me thinking about the coronavirus and how it could ravage our people if they were to lower their guard and fail to observe basic COVID-19 rules captured in the SAWBO RAPID animation video “How to Shop Safely in the Marketplace”. In this video, shoppers are advised on a number of precautionary measures to protect themselves against contracting and spreading coronavirus while at the market. Anybody going contrary to these measures risks their own lives and those of their loved ones.

SAWBO RAPID is a part of SAWBO.  SAWBO has been creating animations with experts from around the World and delivering knowledge globally for over a decade. The SAWBO library contains over 100 animations in 200+ language variants reaching over 50 million known viewers. The SAWBO RAPID project, funded by USAID through the Feed the Future Initiative and supported by the USAID Kenya Mission, identifies critical food security topics and delivers knowledge to mitigate COVID-19’s secondary economic impacts. See other SAWBO RAPID animations on their website.

Let’s look at rules that stop the spread of the virus and save lives;

  1. Properly wearing your face mask: This reduces coronavirus germs that are released into the air or inhaled from the air. People can have coronavirus and fail to notice. If they don’t wear masks properly and go to these crowded markets, the chances of spreading the virus are so high. It can end up with market closures and loss of income.
  • Washing your hands often for at least 20 seconds with soap and water: This helps eliminate germs. Washing hands regularly or using hand sanitizers by rubbing on your hands for at least 20 seconds ensures your hands are clean and won’t transfer germs to places you touch. Meanwhile avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes as much as possible.
  • Keep a two meter distance from other market dwellers and shoppers: Keeping a safe distance reduces the risk of spreading the coronavirus. Avoid entering or staying in congested sections of the market.
Market place safety by seller | Picture Courtesy SAWBO, photographer-Gerald Andrew Akolo

Besides the precautionary measures listed above, I want to draw your attention to other practices that could ensure a quick, safe, and satisfying shopping experience. No family member would like to go shopping and bring home a coronavirus infection to the family. So, following these guidelines will help protect our families and loved ones.    

  • Plan what you’ll buy at the market in advance. Make a list of your items, and a mental draft of where to get each from the market (in case you are familiar with the market). This will drastically reduce the time taken shopping and reduce unnecessary movements. You can, as well, choose to shop at a time when the market is less busy.
  • If you are feeling sick, or a member of your family has coronavirus, or is sick, please do not go to the market for risk of spreading the virus unknowingly. Ask a neighbor to do the shopping for you.  
  • If you are walking to the market with others, please wear a clean mask and keep a physical distance of two meters apart. Never remove your mask even to be heard by the seller.
  • When you meet friends and acquaintances, do not hug or kiss them. Avoid handshakes during the pandemic. You can greet by waving from a two meters distance.
  • While shopping at the market, avoid touching products as much as possible. 

There are a number of safety recommendations outlined in the video which I advise my readers to watch and note. Remember, it is always important to stay safe and healthy by following these basic guidelines. In addition to the market shopper video, I recommend my readers who ply their trade on markets to watch the video on “How to Sell Safely in the Marketplace”, and market leaders to watch and share the video “Marketplace-Market leader”. Combining these three videos will help us better understand how to protect those shopping, those selling, and those managing our markets.

Note: The information and content in the video (content) should not substitute for professional or medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any kind. Michigan State University, Purdue University, and SAWBO disclaims responsibility or liability for any loss or injury that may be incurred as a result of the use of any content included in the video. Viewers and users of the video should always consult a physician or other professional for diagnosis, treatment and/or advice. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of the content of this video

SAWBO RAPID is funded through a grant from Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative. This blog article was made possible through support provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development under the terms of agreement no. 7200AA20LA00002. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Agency for International development or the U.S. government.

PROPERLY USING FACEMASKS

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Properly wearing a face mask. Image by Kataru Concepts

Today I am driven by headlines released by three East Africa governments on the state of the coronavirus pandemic. I would like to talk to my readers in the region and remind them that as our governments struggle with COVID-19, it is our responsibility to compliment those efforts by observing basic rules to prevent the spread and infection of the Coronavirus.

To keep our region safe from COVID-19, we need to wear face masks properly, at all times, but not only when we see law enforcement officers and fear arrest. We also need to observe World Health Organization (WHO) and the ministry of health guidelines.

To understand the magnitude of the situation, I refer my readers to various government positions on the state of the pandemic, measures that have been put in place to ensure public health and safety. I also urge our citizens to cooperate with their respective governments and health authorities to make the war against COVID-19 successful.

Kenya: A total of 13 counties in the Lake basin region have been declared COVID-19 hot-spots and a lock-down and curfew has been imposed to try and control the spread and reduce infections.

Covid-19 restrictions imposed on Kenya’s lake basin region

Tanzania: The national committee on COVID-19 has urged the Tanzania government to disclose COVID-19 cases to World Health Organization and join the COVAX Facility aimed at equitable vaccine access globally.

Tanzania committee recommends joining covax reporting covid-19 cases

Uganda: The government has declared a total lock-down as infections rise in the hope of stopping the spread of coronavirus.

 Uganda lock-down and Covid-19 restrictions

It is heartbreaking to see large, uncontrolled crowds at markets, malls and other public places wearing their masks on their chins, mouth without covering the nose and, and masks hanging off wrists. It’s equally dangerous to find people in crowded places, public transport systems, and schools without masks.

However, for masks to be effective, they must be worn properly. In the SAWBO RAPID video Properly Using Face Masks, we are reminded how to wear face masks properly. Please watch, download and share this video on WhatsApp groups, Facebook pages, via Bluetooth and Xender to help keep your families, and community safe. From this video you’ll also learn about which types of face masks are recommended by healthcare experts to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

SAWBO RAPID is a part of SAWBO, who has been creating animations and delivering knowledge globally for over a decade. The SAWBO library contains over 100 animations in 200+ language variants reaching over 50 million known viewers. The SAWBO RAPID project, funded by USAID through the Feed the Future Initiative and supported by the Kenyan USAID Kenya Mission, identifies critical food security topics and delivers knowledge to mitigate COVID-19’s secondary economic impacts, See other SAWBO RAPID animations on their website.

A Swahili video on Properly wearing a face mask from the SAWBO RAPID WEB SITE.

Please consider the following points extracted from this video:

The coronavirus is spread when an infected person talks, breathes, coughs or sneezes by releasing germs into the air that cannot be seen.

These germs can float in the air for several hours.

If these germs reach the nose or mouth of another person not wearing a face mask, that person can easily become infected.

Some people can have COVID-19, feel fine and do not know they are infected, such people can unknowingly spread the disease. Why wear a mask?

•           Masks help prevent the spread of coronavirus and helps to keep you healthy.

Who should wear a mask?

•           Health care experts recommend all adults and children over 2 years old wear a mask whenever outside their home, around people not from their household, inside or outside, engaged in physical activity including play, or whenever caring for someone who is sick with any illness.

How to wear your mask

•           A mask must be snug fitting to be effective.

•           A mask should have ear loops or ties that adjust.

•           Masks that does not cover your nose and mouth completely, allow gaps, fit too loosely, or have vents allow the virus to enter from, or escape into the air.

•           If you always have to adjust your mask, then it doesn’t fit properly.

•           Wearing a second mask on top of the first one can provide better fit and protection by reducing the amount of air that leaks from the mask edges and the number of germs coming through the mask.

Other precautionary measures

•           Carry an extra face mask if possible.

•           Wash cloth masks daily with soap and water, meanwhile it’s safe to launder masks with other items.

•           Masks with a bendable border at the top fit tightly against your nose.

•           Masks made from a single layer of fabric provide less protection.

•           If you make a mask use at least two layers of cloth.

•           Do not cut a hole in the mask to drink because any hole will make it useless.

•           Do not share masks with anyone.

•           Knitted masks and those made of loose woven fabric are not effective.

•           Disposable masks are effective, but cannot be reused.

•           Do not use a handkerchief, face shield or goggles in place of a face mask.

•           Combine a mask and face shield or goggles to increase protection.

•           Before putting on or taking off your mask, wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol for at least 20 seconds.

•           People who have trouble breathing should seek advice from their local health officers on how and when to wear a mask.

•           Those recommended to not wear masks should stay home as much as possible and avoid direct contact with non-household members.

•           A mask is not a substitute for physical distancing.

To reduce the spread of Coronavirus

•           Wear masks properly. Whenever outside your home or around others not in your household whether inside or out.

•           Stay 2 meters apart from those not in your household, or as recommended by your local health officers.

•           Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

•           Get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as one is available to you.

I encourage my readers to follow the outlined regulations to protect their families and keep their communities safe. No one should wait for the law enforcement officers manning roadblocks, public places and shopping malls to remind them to wear masks properly and observe the COVID-19 rules. The responsibility starts with ourselves.

Note: The information and content in the video (content) should not substitute for professional or medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any kind. Michigan State University, Purdue University, and SAWBO disclaims responsibility or liability for any loss or injury that may be incurred as a result of the use of any content included in the video. Viewers and users of the video should always consult a physician or other professional for diagnosis, treatment and/or advice. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of the content of this video.

SAWBO RAPID is funded through a grant from Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative. This blog article was made possible through support provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development under the terms of agreement no. 7200AA20LA00002. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Agency for International development or the U.S. government.

How to plant groundnuts for a higher yield

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Communities dwelling in East Africa have grown groundnuts and used them as food, oil and a source of income for ages. Roasted groundnuts are a popular serving on breakfast tables of most households where they are taken with tea as a snack. Groundnuts are munched in bars, parks, on sidewalks, in public and private offices. At times roasted groundnuts are mixed with simsim/sesame seeds and taken with a variety of soft drinks and soda.

Famously known as “njugu karanga” by the Swahili speaking nations, groundnuts are prepared and eaten in a number of ways without losing their legendary sweetness and folklore mythical power as a source of vigor, vitality and fertility in most African cultures. Before we sink further into the preparation and consumption of these wonder nuts, let’s look at how they can be grown to give higher yields and good returns as captured in the SAWBO animation video “Groundnut: Good Agricultural Practices for Production.”

How to grow groundnuts

Groundnut: Good Agricultural Practices for Production in English

Most farmers have been growing groundnuts without considering important aspects captured in this video which include; the soil condition, variety of seed you should plant, and crop rotation in your field. It is important for farmers to choose the right varieties that grow well in their soil, resist diseases, and mature faster. Groundnuts grow best in loose sandy soils without standing water. They can be rotated with maize after the July harvest. Farmers need to ensure they plant during the earliest rains for good quality yields so it is important for the land to be well prepared prior to the beginning of the rains.

I want to encourage farmers who have been growing groundnuts for ages to watch, share and follow recommendation in the animation video for better farming practices and yields. There are lots of new revelations that have helped me understand what to do as I prepare to plant groundnuts this July. I strongly believe this information will help my readers as they grow groundnuts on their farms too. 

How to prepare groundnuts

Roasting: Dried groundnuts can be roasted on a hot pan placed on a fire for between 20-25 minutes. This will harden them and give them a crunchy feel. Such roasted nuts are taken with tea or mixed with simsim and taken with soda as a snack.

Boiling: Freshly harvested groundnuts are cleaned and boiled in clean water and eaten straight from their shells.

Mixing with maize and beans to cook “amenjera”: Amenjera is a local dish made of beans mixed with maize. A variety of larger groundnuts are added to the mix and cooked, then served as a meal at a dinner or breakfast table. Groundnuts add a sweeter, and delicious taste to the dish.

Roasted nuts are also pounded in a mortar using a pestle to form an oily thick paste that’s eaten with boiled potatoes, added to cooked vegetables, fish and dried meat.

Roasted groundnuts for sale. Picture by Kataru Concept       same paste can be applied on bread as peanut butter.

Groundnuts have not lost their place in an African kitchen either as a sweet snack, a paste to be added to other foods, or a source of instant income to households. They fetch higher prices than all other cereals, only second to bambara nuts.

I once more encourage my readers who are relishing the experience of a groundnut snack to watch the SAWBO animation video on planting groundnuts, share it widely, and follow the instructions for an improved crop and better harvest. In addition, there is also a second animation on the SAWBO website titled, Groundnut: Good Agricultural Practices from Harvest to Storage. Be sure to view this animation and you will learn how to know when the best time is to harvest your groundnuts and best ways to store them.

For more information on groundnut, visit the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Peanut website managed by the University of Georgia.

Scientific Animations Without Borders (SAWBO) is a university-based program currently residing at Purdue University in the U.S. SAWBO transforms educational content on relevant topics such as agriculture, health, and women’s empowerment into 2D, 2.5D and 3D animations, which are then voice overlaid into a diversity of languages from around the world to reach remote and developing communities.

The animations “Groundnut: Good Agricultural Practices for Production” and “Groundnut: Good Agricultural Practices from Harvest to Storage” were funded by USAID through the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Peanut at the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at the University of Georgia U.S.

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