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How SAWBO animated videos complimented my “three point agenda”


My readers often wonder and ask me the origin of the name Kataru Concepts, its meaning, impact on my life, and relationship with Scientific Animations Without Borders (SAWBO). Today in this blog, I want to delve into this matter so that readers can understand the power and influence of the name, the programs we run, and how it all began.

Having been brought up by a father who was a primary school teacher, a reputable farmer practicing mixed farming, and an elected farmer’s representative in Mumias Outgrowers Company (MOCO) a local company that represented farmers’ interests in the newly commissioned Mumias Sugar Company (MSC), my early life was spent helping around the farm and watching my father address farmers grievances. 

When I vied for the Member of County Assembly (MCA) seat, East Wanga ward, Mumias East sub-county, Kakamega County in 2013, I did not know that I had begun a journey into community service. In Kenya, MCA is the lowest elective seat, where members sit in their respective county Assemblies and legislate on laws that govern and manage devolved resources aimed at improving the livelihoods of the common mwananchi (residents). While vying for the seat, I established a “three-point agenda” which included;

  1. Improved agricultural practices that would open ways for agribusiness
  2. Improved health by provision of basic health services from the county government
  3. Community empowerment touching on organized groups such as youth and women groups, self-help groups, and associations

The rebirth of “Kataru Concepts”

While on the campaign trail, I would always open my speech with the words, “I have THREE promises to work on if I get elected” which elicited excitement in my audience, who resonated with and recited the three points ululating and hanging on every word! That was when voters started calling me “Owa Kataru” which in my local Luhya-Wanga dialect meant, “the one with three points”. Unfortunately, I lost the 2013 election to a more experienced opponent but was inspired to set up a blog which I named “Kataru Concepts”, and decided to conceptualize my three-point agenda in readiness for the next elective contest or non-elective opportunity that could enable me to fulfill my desire to serve my community and push my “three-point agenda”.

My big opportunity with SAWBO animation videos

In late 2019, I was introduced to SAWBO by my former student, Sammy Lutomia whom I had taught computers while he was still young. At first, I was hesitant because I didn’t understand what was expected of me, but he persisted. He encouraged me to turn my blogging prowess from the less rewarding political genre to a more development-oriented approach. After watching several animation videos and studying the categories listed in the SAWBO video library, I discovered the content was exactly what I was looking for to complete my pet three-point agenda for serving my community.

Through SAWBO, I found lots of scientifically researched, proven, and digitally captured educational content that would benefit farmers, health workers, traders, transport operators, warehousing agents, structured community-based groups, and individuals too. My excitement came when I discovered that this content was being offered by SAWBO at no cost, and was simple to access, download, watch, understand, and even share with friends and family with ease via WhatsApp and other social media platforms and apps such as Bluetooth and Xender.

I also noticed that SAWBO content could be shared on flash disks and memory sticks, then watched on TV screens, on computers and laptops, and transmitted as a TV program by TV stations. These animation videos were further simplified by translations into several international and local languages and dialects which make them accessible to both the literate and semi-literate members of our society.

Visiting communities with animation videos

During the three years as a SAWBO knowledge partner, content manager, and developer, I have had the opportunity to work and interact with several Kenyan and African communities on a number of educative processes captured in the animated videos. We have conducted many training sessions, farm visits, household visits with health workers, and online training sessions. This experience has enriched my knowledge and understanding of what a fulfilling service to one’s community means. It has made me strongly believe that to serve, you don’t necessarily need a political or elective office, but just a calling, a passion, a push, and an urge to do something better for the next person and generation.

Together with the team that I created over the years, we have had the opportunity to build a wide network of volunteers and content beneficiaries in all the 47 counties of the Republic of Kenya, and we are in the process of reaching out to our friends and neighbors across Africa. We have also brought together a number of professionals from several fields that offer guidance and plan our activities as we seek to provide solutions using the readily available and free SAWBO content. 

Advice to fellow bloggers and online platform users

To my fellow bloggers and social media users who might be struggling to seek an identity in the content they develop and live a meaningful life pursuing their dreams and building a cohesive society, SAWBO offers a lot of life-changing content on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as fighting hunger, conserving our environment, sustainable agriculture, etc. The Kenyan government is at the forefront of pushing for the realization of the “Vision 2030” and the “Big Four Agenda” where digital content provided by SAWBO plays an integral role. Besides using digital platforms for political purposes (which flows in most Kenyan veins), please venture into development and share ideas that enhance the growth within your society.

More tips for sharing SAWBO animations effectively


Effective dissemination of digital content should always include a follow-up to determine whether the knowledge gained is being implemented by the recipients, its impact on households, and the quantifiable positive change attained. As we continue sharing content from different categories of the SAWBO library, I encourage our network volunteers and groups to move further and ascertain the level of content intake in their respective communities and embrace a change in sharing and dissemination strategy that will enhance peer-to-peer education. This way, our success in improving livelihoods and positive change for society shall be achieved.

In this blog post, I want to outline more tips that could help in the effective dissemination of content, and increased uptake of knowledge. In the end, this will lead to impact stories attributed to the use of SAWBO animated content. I wish to drive our network volunteers from social media platforms to, showcasing best practices, farm visits, household visits with health workers, and sessions with communities, women and youth groups, and involvement in the implementation of knowledge gained.

Specializing on an animated video category

The moment a new network member or video recipient logs into the SAWBO video library, they scroll through the available categories and land on what drives their passion or immediate need. For example, when a farmer has a farming need, their first stop in the library will be the agricultural videos. Likewise, a health worker or conservationist will get attracted to the health and climate change categories respectively because that’s where they are bound to get solutions to their immediate needs or passion.

Matching your need, passion, or profession with available video categories makes it easier to choose and share video content. There is no problem when health workers choose to concentrate on sharing videos from the health category and let farmers concentrate on sharing agricultural videos. However, if you can navigate all available video categories with ease, you will enjoy and understand the concept addressed, and can engage a cross-section of recipients, so please do share from all categories.

Join more social media groups

In Kenya, we often receive links with invitations to join WhatsApp or other social media groups. My advice to our network volunteers is to first, research the group fully to ensure it is legitimate and proper and if so then go ahead and willingly join or accept to be members of these groups. Many may provide an opportunity to advance the SAWBO agenda of dissemination of digital content. After you have determined it is a legitimate group, take your time to study the group agenda, then introduce yourself and when appropriate start sharing SAWBO videos. 

Always refer your recipients to the SAWBO video library

Referring recipients and showing them how to navigate the video library is one way of availing them freedom to explore, select, and disseminate SAWBO animated content. Each network member should encourage video recipients to freely visit the library, choose a video that addresses their immediate need, download, watch and share widely. Let us go out there and demonstrate the process to our recipients in their groups or individual capacities.

Encourage sharing

Once you’ve referred a client to a video whose content has solved their need be it storage of seed, water filtration, composting, etc, encourage them to share widely in their communities. Our network’s core business is to encourage peer-to-peer education via animated videos. Let’s keep encouraging our groups and individuals to share content.

Engage those you are sharing with

Sharing animated videos with recipients via WhatsApp is limiting. Network volunteers need to proceed and do physical visits, discuss progress, and engage recipients in calls to find out if they have implemented the knowledge gained and document their journey. This alone shows concern, responsibility, and creates a lasting bond between the network volunteer who shared the video and the recipients. It also grows and expands the network too.

Collect feedback

Collecting feedback helps improve delivery. Feedback is key to the development of an idea, concept, process, or practice. It is important to collect both negative and positive feedback to help our volunteer’s network and SAWBO improve and develop videos that are essential to our communities.

Dealing with other diseases besides COVID-19 is equally important


For the past ten years (2010-2020)  Kenya has mounted efforts with the World Health Organization  (WHO) to eliminate and control Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) such as schistosomiasis (bilharzia), soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH) or intestinal worms, lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis), and trachoma. According to WHO the goal of this decade-long effort is to at least eliminate one of these diseases by 2030 (See Kenya Making Progress in the Fight against NTDs).

Specifically, in December 2021 and January 2022 the Kenyan government and World Health Organization administered vaccine tablets to citizens to prevent bilharzia (schistosomiasis). Amazingly, these tablets were larger sized as compared to the usual size of tablets and not an injection like most Kenyans are used to. Not knowing about the fight against NTDs, I wondered why the government, had suddenly decided to campaign against a disease that was heard of prevalent more than 30 years ago amidst a pandemic?.

 The Zika virus, Chikungunya, Dengue, and Yellow fever causing Aedes aegypti mosquito. Photo Credit: SAWBO website

In most Kenyan communities, young children will quickly point to you that the most dangerous disease they know is COVID-19 which they have witnessed to have “stopped life” as they used to know it. Furthermore, these children Will recite to you how everything has been interfered with including their normal schooling schedule, shopping routines, playground rules, and restrictions on gatherings. Those who have watched the SAWBO animated videos on fighting the pandemic will tell you they have been watching many of the COVID-19 related videos, yet videos on fighting Malaria, Cholera, Zika, Tuberculosis, and others are available in the SAWBO video library.

Generally, people can recite the “COVID-19 protocol” without blinking an eye and remind you to wash your hands with soap and clean running water or use hand sanitizers regularly, maintain social distance, properly wear face masks, become fully vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine, and go for a booster dose as recommended by the Ministry of Health.

The focus on the COVID-19 pandemic has made, for some, other dangerous diseases appear less harmful, yet their control, treatment, and eradication are quite essential to humanity. That is why in this blog I take the opportunity to remind my readers not to forget preventive measures against other dangerous diseases featured in the SAWBO animated videos. 

1. Cholera prevention

This is an intestinal infection caused by the Vibrio cholera bacteria. Cholera is caused by consuming contaminated food and water. Its symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea. In the brief SAWBO video, which I highly recommend my readers to watch, we learn how to prevent cholera by treating water, washing hands regularly, as well as and seeking medical advice in case of an infection. Please watch this animated video on Cholera prevention and share this video widely to help save lives. For the Kenyan audience, this video is available in English and Swahili.

2. Malaria prevention: Using bed nets

Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite that is transmitted to people through the bite of the female Anopheles mosquito. Symptoms of malaria are; high fever, chills, abdominal pain, headaches, tiredness, and fatigue. In case of an infection, the sick person should urgently seek medical assistance. Malaria can cause serious health complications, especially in infants and young children. Prevention measures include not being bitten by the mosquito. Proper installation of mosquito nets around your bed and sleeping areas keeps mosquitoes away. Please download, watch, and share this video on Malaria prevention with friends and family. For the Kenyan audience, this video is available in English and Swahili. There is also a music video from SAWBO about Malaria Prevention.

3. Drug-resistant Tuberculosis.

Sometime back, a friend who was using a congested public transport train to work got a serious TB infection. At first, it seemed a harmless persistent cough until she took medical tests. TB is treatable if the doctor’s instructions are followed carefully. If not treated properly, the virus can become resistant to one or multiple drugs hence becoming multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.

The SAWBO animation, Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis or (MDR-TB), explains the treatment plan that involves a group of antibiotics called “second-line antibiotics”. When a patient has a treatment plan with a doctor, it is important to adhere to the prescription strictly. For the Kenyan audience, this video is available in English.

4. Zika virus

The Zika virus, Chikungunya, Dengue, and Yellow Fever are caused by a flavivirus transmitted through the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito.  These infections can be sexually transmitted hence the need for infected couples to take precautions such as using condoms. SAWBO has an animation that discusses the Zika virus to watch and share. For the Kenyan audience, this video is available in English.

Symptoms of the Zika virus infection normally last two to seven days and have no known treatment. They include:

•           Fever

•           Skin rash

•           Conjunctivitis (red or pink eye)

•           Joint pains

•           Muscle pain

•           Headache

Here, I have just listed a few serious diseases that require urgent attention just like COVID-19. Health workers should increase sensitization to educate communities on the danger posed and advise families to take their sick to the hospital and seek medical intervention.

Note: The information and content in the video (content) should not substitute for professional or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment of any kind. Purdue University and SAWBO disclaim 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.

Is the child well?

A mother thinks about her child’s well-being. Image from SAWBO website

While walking down the great Ormond Street in London, Kenya’s former vice president, the late Michael Wamalwa Kijana said he noticed writing that said “Is everything well? is the child well?” which got him thinking of the well-being of children. He said this while delivering one of his most powerful speeches ever recorded during his short stint in office.

This statement has taken me back to thinking about how we feed our young children, taking note of how long they should be breastfed, what kinds of foods to feed them, and more specifically, what foodstuffs to mix to get a balanced diet that will ensure their steady growth and development.

In the SAWBO animated video“Child Nutrition: adding legume powder to porridge for better nutrition” we learn how to add a nutritious dried bean or cowpea powder to maize or grain porridge to feed your weaning infants and young children. When a child feeds on the right food, their growth and strength of the immune system and general well-being is promoted. Lack of proper food and nutrition leads to malnutrition, stunted growth, general body weakness, and poor development in children.

Child Nutrition Animation Video

Eating healthy food has lots of benefits for growing children which include the following

  • Helps the child grow properly
  • Helps keep the skin, teeth, and eyes healthy
  • Supports muscles
  • Boosts body immunity
  • Strengthens bones
  • Helps the digestive system to function properly
  • Lowers risk of heart diseases, some cancers, and type 2 diabetes
  • Supports healthy pregnancies and breastfeeding in mothers

In young children, good nutrition has several benefits that include the following

  • Stabilizes energy
  • Improves minds and evens out moods
  • Helps ensure a healthy weight
  • Helps prevent mental health conditions such as anxiety

It is the responsibility of every parent to provide good nutritious food for their growing children. This promotes physical and mental health hence making the child feel energized.  

Good nutrition helps ensure normal development

Nutritious food helps to ensure the normal development of growing children. Young children need calcium and vitamin D for strong healthy bones. Foods that help provide calcium include low-fat dairy products, fortified cereals, and dark leafy greens and vegetables.

Good nutrition helps ensure a healthy body weight

It is best for growing children to remain within the recommended child weight range. Unhealthy eating habits can result in eating low nutrient, high-calorie food which could lead to obesity. Every family needs to ensure that its members, especially growing children, eat a balanced diet to grow and develop well.

A strong immune system

A strong immune system keeps away sicknesses like colds and flu. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables helps to boost the immune system of growing children.

Fuelling the brain to function properly

For children to focus and perform well in school, they need a healthy diet. Foods like salmon, eggs, peanuts, and almond butter, supply the body with nutrients. Children also require whole grain for fiber too.

It is important for families to make sure their “children are well” and not malnourished which can lead to low self-esteem, poor development, and even death. SAWBO has a number of animations in its library that teach how to ensure good health for all people. I encourage my readers to download, watch and share widely with family. 

Medical Disclaimer

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 disclaim 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.

Ensuring good nutrition for your family during a pandemic

Dried Eshibambala fish. Photo by Ramadhan Khatete

Recently a friend shared the picture of Eshibambala fish in the SAWBO Kenya Network WhatsApp group chat which brought back nostalgic memories of my growing up. As a young boy in a family of ten that loved to have Eshibambala fish for dinner every Friday evening, my siblings and I would relish the sweet aroma, tasty soup from this fish, and the amazing sound sleep we’d have after a sumptuous dinner. As most families in my village, having Eshibambala for dinner was sufficient reason for young boys to take a cold evening shower in anticipation of a session of several balls of Ugali and Eshibambala soup. This was an experience worth boasting about to other children the following day as we grazed the family animals and played along the riverside.

Memories of this dried and salted fish got me thinking of how families can use knowledge in the animated video “Ensuring good nutrition during a pandemic”, to produce, preserve and store tasty, nutritious food to feed their families during pandemics like the Covid-19. This is when households experience food scarcity, changes, and challenges to how they perform their chores like farming and shopping for essentials from the markets and malls.  Some habits have changed for good as we adjust to conform to the Covid-19 protocol. For example, working and attending classes online from home is a routine that’s become the new normal for employees and learners across the world.

The video was produced by the Feed the Future Scientific Animations Without Borders Responsive Adaptive Participatory Information Dissemination Program (SAWBO RAPID), a project of Scientific Animation without Borders (SAWBO). SAWBO RAPID 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. is funded by USAID under the Feed the Future initiative and is 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 200 language variants reaching over 45 million known viewers. Visit the SAWBO website for more information.

The limiting of movement and congregating due to the pandemic has caused a reduction in farming activities, scarcity of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and other foods that provide a balanced diet to households. As we all know, good nutrition is important for a family’s health. Nutritional needs vary according to age, gender, and health conditions hence the need for a balanced diet to help strengthen immunity against diseases.

What is a nutritious meal?

A nutritious meal contains food from various food groups like beans and pulses, dairy products, eggs, meats, fish, poultry, nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables, cereals, and tubers. A nutritious meal should provide the body with sufficient carbohydrates which provide energy to the body,  proteins that build and gives organs and tissues their shape, fat which helps the body absorb vitamins A, D, and E, vitamins, and minerals which boost the immune system.

Ensuring each family member gets these foods in sufficient quantities is a challenge during the Covid-19 pandemic. In this blog and video, we are going to learn things you can do safely to grow, access, prepare, preserve, and store a variety of foodstuffs to provide sufficient, nutritious food for your family to stay healthy and work during the epidemic.

During pandemics, there is a reduction in food supplies and farming activities which affect the entire supply chain. Knowing how to grow and produce sufficient food for your family is essential. Select a variety of crops that can be intercropped to allow you to grow more on existing land. For example, crops that grow well alongside maize include Irish potatoes, legumes, sweet potatoes, and groundnuts.

Vegetables can be grown in kitchen gardens while foods like fish, edible mushrooms and insects, wild fruits, and vegetables that are safe for human consumption can be harvested from the wild to supplement a family’s nutritional needs. As captured in our previous blogs on model farms, consider adding livestock and poultry to your farm to give meat, milk, eggs, and manure to prepare compost that can be used on your farms.

Food preparation 

There are many ways of preparing food including boiling, frying, stewing, and roasting. Some cooking methods cause nutrients to be lost from food. It is important to consider these methods while preparing your food.

Maize: Do not remove the outer cover before boiling or roasting because it destroys nutrients.

Vegetables: Wash all vegetables with clean water first before cutting to avoid losing nutrients. Do not overcook or overboil green leafy vegetables including cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, etc as they lose nutrients. Do not drain and throw away water used to cook or boil vegetables.    

Sweet/Irish potatoes: After washing with clean water, do not peel the skins off, boil with the skins on.

Legumes: Soak dried legumes like beans overnight before cooking to increase the availability of nutrients when eating.

Food preservation and storage

Food storage is keeping food in the right place, at the right temperature, and at the right time. Storage areas must be dry, well ventilated, and free from rodents and pests.  There are many ways of storing and preserving foods captured in previous videos including the jerrycan bean storage technique and using PIC bags. Food preservation stops or slows down spoilage and allows for nutrient retention.

Prolonged storage bridges seasonal gaps and aids in food distribution cutting down on waste and post-harvest losses.

Methods of food preservation include;

Drying: Reduces water in food preventing and delaying bacterial growth. This method is used to preserve fish, meat, fruits, veggies, cereals, and legumes. Dried food should be stored in a cool, dark, dry place and used within a year.

Salting and curing: This removes moisture from food and can be used to preserve meat, fish, and edible insects. Sugar is used to preserve fruits. They can be preserved in syrup or cooked in sugar to the point of thickening then stored in jars as jam.

Food salting and curing. Image courtesy of the SAWBO RAPID website

Burial in the ground: Many root vegetables like carrots and red beets can be preserved by storing them under the ground. The vegetables and soil should be cool and dry before burying and shouldn’t touch each other when stored in the ground. Ensure the vegetables are arranged in layers without touching each other and should be completely covered by the soil.

Root vegetable storage in the ground. Image courtesy of the SAWBO RAPID website

To learn more on food preparation, storage and preservation, talk to agricultural extension service providers in your area. Community Health workers and volunteers, community-based organizations, and other non-governmental organizations that train communities on these food storage techniques can be of great help too.


This video was made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), under the terms of Contract No. 7200AA20LA00002. USAID administers US foreign assistance in more than 80 countries worldwide. The contents are the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

Farmers using knowledge from SAWBO animated videos on their model farms


When I did a series of blogs on setting up model farms using SAWBO animations as a reference, I envisioned small farms and plots within the communities where farmers were practicing mixed farming and using knowledge learned from SAWBO animated videos to increase their yields and profits. I thought of farms where other farmers could visit and learn better farming practices explained in the SAWBO videos which they could implement on their family farms back home.

The Kataru concept of a model farm is built around smallholder farmers who own between half to five acres of land. This is meant to enable peasant farmers to utilize their small farms to the maximum and provide enough food for their families and have excess to sell and generate income. Properly placing structures and facilities to rear a few birds, dairy cow, goat, sheep, a small fish pond, and farmland to plant crops takes planning and organization.

For example, if a family owns an acre of land which they rely on for their livelihoods, it’s important to plan well what portion shall be used for the family homestead, which part shall be used for crop farming, where to place units for one or two dairy cows, a few goats and sheep, and birds like chickens, ducks, geese, and turkey. If properly planned, a family may still afford to add a small fish pond on the farm that will provide protein supplements and water for irrigating kitchen gardens in the dry period.

After floating the idea of the model farms to my networks, several farmers moved to set up mixed farming model farms with several crops, animals, birds, and practices using knowledge learned from watching SAWBO animation videos. On November 27, 2021 I had the opportunity to visit three farms and witnessed the great work accomplished in turning them into model farms using SAWBO animations as a reference. The three farmers (Janet Marende on her Epanja farm in Mumias East, Ramadhan Khatete in Matungu, and Hellen Alukwe from Bulechia village in Mumias East, Kakamega county) receive neighbors who visit their farms to learn what they’ve done to improve their yields making them a hotspot for SAWBO animation video dissemination. This has taken farmer-to-farmer education to another level as captured from the following farmers who were first featured in the blog; Visiting other farms to learn what to grow.

  1. Ramadhan Khatete

Ramadhan Khatete is our volunteer coordinator of the Kataru Concepts/SAWBO network team, Kakamega county. On his farm, which is our first model farm, Khatete grows bananas, brachiaria grass, arrow roots, strawberry, and a variety of indigenous vegetables using the knowledge he acquires in SAWBO video content. This farm provides food for his family and income from sale of the goods. He has also extended the sharing of this knowledge to friends, family, and our expansive network. He visits farmers in our network and shares advice on best farming practices. Three SAWBO animations that Ramadhan has found very helpful are planting on raised beds, deep tillage and smart manure use, and how to create compost. These animations have taught him techniques he has adopted that have improved his farm.

Janet Marende

Just like Ramadhan, Janet Marende was also featured in our previous blog when she was just starting to set up her farm. A visit to Janet’s farm two years later reveals a story of resilience, focus, and love for SAWBO animation video content to improve her farming. It was exciting to see how Janet has improved her farm by increasing the varieties of local vegetables all planted on raised beds using compost she prepared on her farm. Rabbits, goats, and dairy cows are all new additions to her farm.

Hellen Alukwe

Alukwe has not been left behind. Her farm which has been beautifully divided into smaller portions with lines of napier grass and brachiaria is worth visiting. After reading the blog on how to plant groundnuts for a higher yield and watching the SAWBO animation video, Groundnut: Good Agricultural Practices for Production, which was funded by the Feed The Future Innovation Lab for Peanut managed by the University of Georgia, Hellen planted her groundnuts and harvested more than she had ever done before on the same portion of land. She has also combined a knowledge acquired in other videos to grow a number of other crops and vegetables.

During the farm visits, I learned from the farmers features that our model farms should include.

  1. A nice fence: A fence is meant to keep out intruders such as animals that can destroy crops. In this case, a live fence made of lantana camara.
  • A homestead: A neatly made compound with houses provides an ambient abode for the family and visitors. The size of the home should depend on the size of the farm and the farmer’s needs.
  • Crop fields: This is where a farmer plants maize, beans, potatoes, assorted vegetables, groundnuts, bambara nuts, and other crops for family food, and sale to generate income. These fields can be separated by napier grass and brachiaria which can be harvested and used as animal fodder. These two types of grass are also good in controlling fall armyworms.
  • Bird keeping: Every family strives to keep a few birds (less than 20) in their family kitchen, while others build adjacent chicken coops (more than 20 birds) or free-range. Other birds families keep include guinea fowl, geese, duck, turkey, and other birds that provide meat and eggs for family consumption and sale to generate income.
  • Livestock rearing: In our community, every family has at least one or two cows, a few goats, sheep, and even pigs. These animals provide meat, manure, milk, and money from their sales.
  • Aquaculture: Our model farms should have small fish pond for keeping catfish and tilapia. Fish ponds can also act as water reservoirs that can be used to irrigate farms during the dry season.
  • Compost manure preparation site: Every farm has lots of farm residue. It’s important for our model farms to have a place farmers can prepare compost. This will ensure a steady supply of organic fertilizer which is important for plant growth.
  • Peer-to-peer training: In our communities, we love to share knowledge and information. Most farmers prefer to visit and learn from fellow farmers whose farms are doing well. School children, farmers’ groups, and government institutions love checking on farmers and recording their progress. Our SAWBO model farms are to be centers of information sharing and exchange.

Briefly, most farmers in the country have watched SAWBO animation videos on KTN Farmers TV, read several blog posts on Kataru Concepts, and accessed videos shared by Kataru Concepts volunteers’ network. Others have accessed SAWBO animation videos through efforts by other collaborators in Kenya such as youth groups, farmers associations, and small local and television stations. Importantly, there are farmers who have accessed SAWBO video animations through YouTube. These farmers are currently implementing the knowledge gained on their farms and sharing with their friends and neighbors thus changing livelihoods.  


The model farms described in this blog are not supported or expressly endorsed by SAWBO Animations in any way. They are independent and wholly the responsibility of the landowners/tenants. SAWBO provides scientifically based educational animations on a variety of topics including many agricultural practices.  Users and Viewers assume all responsibility and risk for the use of the video and content. 

How to protect your chickens from Newcastle Disease

Healthy free-range chicken on a farm. Photo by Kataru Concepts

Chickens are the most honored birds in East African communities. A ceremony is not complete if the chicken is not served either as a stew, fried, or roasted. Young children visiting their maternal grandmothers are served chicken to show them love and are given chickens as presents to rear them back in their homes. Chicken is served at weddings, funerals, and other functions where meals are provided. In some Kenyan communities, failing to serve visitors with chicken is considered rude and an offense.

The love for chickens has made them a ‘must-have’ in our society. The need to keep them safe and healthy is key for families that rear chickens. Rearing chickens is simple to practice households are expected to do, however poor they may be. Chickens provide families with eggs and manure for their farms besides the meat and extra income from their sales.

While raising chickens, guinea fowls, turkeys, and other birds for their meat, eggs, manure, or for sale to generate income, it is important to keep them safe from Newcastle disease which is caused by a highly contagious virus that devastates flocks. The disease also ravages pheasants, partridges, and other wild and captive birds causing them to die in just a few days.

Scientific Animations Without Borders (SAWBO) is a University-based program that transforms extension information on relevant topics such as agriculture, health, women’s empowerment, peace and justice, and climate change resilience,  into animation videos that are then voice overlaid into the diversity of languages from around the world. SAWBO has been creating animations and delivering knowledge globally for over a decade. Visit the SAWBO website for more information.

Feed the Future Scientific Animations Without Borders Responsive Adaptive Participatory Information Dissemination Program (SAWBO RAPID) is a project of SAWBO. SAWBO RAPID 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. is funded by USAID under the Feed the Future initiative and is supported by the USAID Kenya Mission.

In the SAWBO RAPID Animated video: How to Protect Your Chickens from Newcastle Disease, we shall be looking at how the disease infects chickens, and ways to control it, including vaccination.

How Newcastle disease spreads

This disease occurs and spreads widely in a flock through:

Contact with an infected bird, which can look and act healthy

Contact with unclean farm tools including baskets, hoes, spades, buckets, and feeders

Contact with clothes and shoes of people who’ve been around infected animals

Drinking water and feed that has been contaminated with a sick chicken’s manure

The air from a nearby sick flock

Symptoms of Newcastle disease

There are many symptoms of disease or illness in birds with Newcastle disease which include:

  • Sneezing
  • A running nose
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty in breathing or gasping for air
  • Swelling around the eyes, neck, and head
  • Greenish and watery manure
  • Eating less or none at all
  • Sleepy, drooping wings
  • The bird’s coat looks like its dragging on the ground
  • Uncoordinated clumsy walk or movement
  • Unable to move legs, wings, or a twisted neck
  • If you detect Newcastle disease in your flock, consider the following actions to properly manage your sick flock:
  • Remove any birds showing signs of Newcastle disease from your flock and isolate them in cages far from your flock
  • Contact your veterinary or agricultural extension officer 
  • Slaughter birds that are showing severe signs of illness, including gasping for air
  • Bury or burn dead birds in a pit for proper disposal and to prevent the spread of Newcastle disease
  • Disinfect the tools you used to slaughter the sick birds

Prevention of Newcastle disease

There are four easy actions you can take to prevent or reduce the spread of Newcastle disease in your flock. They include:

  1. Vaccinate your flock regularly. Vaccines are very effective in preventing Newcastle disease.
  2. Keep new chicken that you’ve purchased and birds that have failed to sell on the market in a pen separated and far from your flock for three weeks to ensure they do not have any illnesses that can be transferred to your flock.
  3. Maintain good hygiene around your flock by washing your hands, clothing, shoes, and other tools used before and after handling birds. If possible, limit contact between your chickens and birds such as guinea fowl, turkeys, and pigeons. Keep your birds in an elevated, well-ventilated coop with a mesh wire or floor that will allow manure to fall through onto the ground.
  4. If your chickens wander freely (free-range) provide additional feed including maize, bran, ground grain, green leaves, ground seashells, insects, and meal scraps provide good nutrition and give the chicken a better chance of combating infections. Feeding your birds at specific times, like late afternoon can help your birds return home (to your land) each day thus protecting them from predators.


This video was made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), under the terms of Contract No. 7200AA20LA00002. USAID administers US foreign assistance in more than 80 countries worldwide. The contents are the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

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


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


Using rocks to save on firewood and charcoal when cooking


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.



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.


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.


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