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Catalyzing the uptake and application of research output by small-scale rural farmers in Kenya

Naftaly Githaka

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Wellcome Trust (WT)
Majority of Kenyans are rural populations whose chief means of livelihood is subsistence mixed farming. Human and animal infectious diseases remain a huge burden to rural communities despite existence of effective diagnostics, vaccines and even drugs for some of these ailments. For instance, there is limited knowledge among rural communities that vaccines exist for Human Papiloma virus (HPV) or the highly fatal cattle disease East Coast fever (ECF). Both diseases cause considerable human and animal mortality in rural Africa. Dissemination of research innovations to the general population would enhance management of important human and animal diseases. Engagement of the community by scientists on one hand and presenting research information through familiar methods on the other could bridge the gap between biomedical innovations and the uptake by intended populations. This project aims to catalyze the rate at which rural populations seek and utilize research information to improve their quality of life through better human and animal health. Community groups known as 'chama' will be used as the functional units of the project at the pilot stage and subsequent rollout of the project. These informal public forums are popular in Kenya for discussing important issues in local communities. Since drama festivals, art, exhibition, competitions and craft are culturally considered to be activities of young people in the target area, primary and secondary schools will be recruited for participation through the above engagement methodologies. Best performance will be awarded, highlighted in a newsletter and stored in a DVD for distribution. A farmers' magazine called 'UTAFITI,' swahili for research, will be launched in the second year to disseminate research findings in easily understandable format. It is envisaged that the magazine will attract readerships beyond the project area of focus.

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