LISHA NAFSI HEALTH APP: Improving Kenyans health with localized nutrition App

BY Sharon Macharia, Michelle Siro,  Angela Maina &Catherine Maina   


One’s health is the source of their wealth. So many times this statement has been echoed, but unfortunately it only rings in our heads when we are down and out or in a hospital bed. Even with the rise of awareness that a persons diets is a major determinant of whether they get sick or not, not enough people put in the necessary effort to eat a clean healthy diet. In Kenya, 27% of deaths among people aged 30 to 70 are caused by the various cancers, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases and heart ailments. These are all non-communicable diseases (NCD), mostly caused by poor diet and lifestyle. A great health App that will enable consumers to be fully aware of what they put in their bodies, is ideal for such individuals. Those also who are at a high risk of getting a NCD are also the target of this application. individual’s who want to continue leading healthier lifestyles can also take advantage of this App because it gives a great simplified breakdown of ingredients in products and what is good or bad for you to consume.

The phrase ‘when you know better, you do better’ is not always practical. One may know that they need to eat healthier foods but still gravitate towards what they know and is not healthy. In the day and age of technology where we have information in the palm of our hands, people have become more empowered than ever to take control of their lifestyles and even health. There are Apps that help with work outs, showing nutrient levels in foods and such applications may be the start to helping people take control of their health.

All products in the Kenyan market must pass a standard of quality test by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) even with this standardizing body in place counterfeit products still make it to the market and also various ingredients which have yet to be banned by the board and been proven to be bad for one’s health and banned in other countries. The system, like any other, is not perfect. This poses the problem of consuming products assuming they are good, but not knowing the actual implications of what is inside the product. The App we have proposed intends to give a variety of information with the intention of making the Kenyan consumers aware of what products they consume contain, indicate if the food or product is acceptable for people with different ailments especially Non Communicable Diseases and even allergies.

This App intends to inform the Kenyan consumer of most of the products that are found locally. Just with a simple search or scan (on the ingredient section) of a product be it a jar of jam or a packet of flour the App will give you information of the product, probable allergens and also what may be harmful in the product or not advisable for a person with a certain health condition. This App will bring awareness to the consumers who wants to be healthy and wants to know what they consume in their products so as to lead a healthier lifestyle.


Say ‘Elo’ To Kenya’s Solution To Tourist Communication

Published by: Givens Kachero (638161) | Winnie Booker (652857) | Hussein Jiva (628978) | Lewis Ochieng (652838)

Kenya is a hotbed of culture, attractions and innovation – a reputation the nation has earned for its various exploits, achievements and contributions. And among the key sectors that have contributed to the country’s burgeoning success stories is the tourism sector.

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Charity and Technology

Saadia Ali

A few years back I remember walking down Moi Avenue along a small narrow road hoping to make it to the bus stop before it rained. It was such a gloomy day. In the midst of all this rush, I spotted a little girl she couldn’t have been older than 5 years old. She had no shoes on and a dress that looked like it was the only one she owned. She silently leaned on a wall on the opposite side of the road. I stared at her from a distance because I was curious to see what she had in her hand. I was shocked to see her dusting dirt off a piece of bread that looked like she picked from the floor, so that she could eat it. Shocked and saddened by the sight of this young girl’s suffering I accepted my responsibility to giving back to my society.

Charity is a social and moral responsibility that maybe felt by some and not others. In addition this responsibility has been greatly understood over the years and gained momentum within our societies all thanks to technology and its development. Technology is changing the world of philanthropy. With the number of apps increasing, high speed Internet, it has been made easy for us to learn about causes we deeply care for and has made the process of donation or offering others support and assistance more convenient and enjoyable.

Source: Pin Interest

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The Evolution of Air Transport

By Dicie Okaya

The Past
The first commercial aircraft with a paying passenger was January 1, 1914. During the 1930s, armies used aircraft during wars and this was the flying that mostly happened. But this is not to say that civilians did not fly. Those who could afford it, flew. Some of the long distances, for example between London and Sydney cost USD 20, 000.00. This was a luxury for the rich. It was a very expensive affair but the fastest way to get to different regions. The commercial aircraft then used to have a capacity of 32 passengers.

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Mass media and the changing faces of news collection in the Digital Era, By Ndiga Kithae


The mass media studies emerged in the early middle ages with the church (Mcquail 2008) having various means of reaching the public without exceptions. However, it was in the late sixteenth century when independent media came into place with the birth of newspaper two hundred years after print technology was invented.

The newspaper as medium of mass communications involved production of regular editions did not become an effective tool of the mass medium until the twentieth century according to mcquail, (mass communication theory 2008) when large enterprises took publishing as a business.News paper as a medium of mass media communication was followed by radio broadcasting, film and later televisions broadcasting.

The mass media communications was revolutionised by the advent of satellite communication and the entrance of computer. The entrant of the Internet has also enhanced the accessibility of news to the public especially with online news. Marshall McLuhan in the 1960s, envisaged an environment when the world turned into a global village with the advent of new technologies since technology broke down the geographical barriers. Today, with the development of smartphones and faster transmission of data through Wi-Fi and most recently, LI-FI launched in Dubai, on March 2016, the world indeed is not a ‘global village’ but in ‘our palm’. With a smart phone, and with access to LI-Fi, you can transmit data at a speed of 220 GB per second!SOu


Whereas we have looked at the process through which the mass mediums have been transformed over the century, it is also important to review how the news collection process has also evolved.

Traditionally, the news production is largely encapsulated under journalism and a journalist according to American Press Institute is person who uses particular methods to gather and assess information for publications. The process of news collection and production for print, radio and television are similar. The journalists congregate in the newsroom in the morning and ran through the docket and a reporter is sent to venue where an event is taking place. A print reporter is accompanied by a photographer, a radio reporter is accompanied by a recorder while a television reporter is accompanied, by a camera man.

Once the materials are collected, they are brought back to the newsroom for processing and by the news editors and the sub-editors before the newspaper is published or a radio story or television story is aired. The whole process of the news production was controlled at the newsrooms by the news producers and the news owners. In absence of telephone It would a whole day to produce a story since reporter has to report back to the newsroom to file a story.

Sub-editors preparing to publish a newspaper in a newsroom in the early 20th century
Evening standard Newsroom.Sub-editors preparing to publish a newspaper in a newsroom in the early 20th century. Photo courtesy os Getty images

The public or the mass audience were deemed to be inactive and relied on the news from the media houses as presented by journalists. It is not surprising then that the early mass media theories were based on the facet. The hypodermic needle theory, cultivation theory, agenda setting theory and framing theories are all based on this assumption.

With the advent of digital media and social media, this news gathering process has been disrupted. The audience are no longer static objects waiting to be bombarded with news from the mass media channels but they are also active players in the news production.

All leading media houses now have digitlal media links
All leading media houses now have digital media links

By definition, social media are computer related tools which allow individuals to share, create and exchange information directly without any mediations. As a public relation practitioners, I do not need to send a press release to a newsroom so that the same can be relayed to my target audience. Directly, through the website, Facebook or twitter, this information can be shared directly.

The media houses have woken up to this truth and have embraced new means of news collection.According to a Pew Research in 2014, it was found that 46% of social media users posted their own photos of news events to a social networking site, while 12% had posted videos. This practice played a role in a number of recent breaking news events, including the riots in Ferguson USA in 2015.

To respond to this new development, media house giants like British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)have restructured and adopted a new mode of news collection and dissemination.

When BBC set up a user generated content (UGC)hub in 2005 to monitor social news in the newsroom, they never anticipated the importance of news gathering from this approach and only assigned two journalist to manage the hub.According Trushar Barot, the chief news editor then, after one week of setting up the unit, the July 7th 2005 bombing of London underground train took place. Initial reports indicated that the explosion was caused by a power surge and until, the audiences who witnessed the event started sharing images, on social media, BBC realised that it was not a power surge but a terrorist bomb attack and this changed the whole story.

Bart avers, that from this incidence, they learnt that the audience knew more than BBC, the audience helped the media house tell the story faster and tell the story better. Today, UGC has a permanent presence inside the BBC newsroom and instead of two journalists, they have more that 20 media journalists covering international and domestic stories. and operates for twenty four hours.

A team of journalist are now based in the newsroom to look for news from the social media applications

CNN in July 2006 launched IREPORT platform to allow citizens or individuals file stories rather than wait for their news report to do the same. This has brought about citizens journalism all facilitated by the emerging digital and social media trends.

In recognition of the importance of the social media in news gathering, several tools have been developed to assist journalists gather news faster.Facebook lists and tweetdeck have been used by journalist to keep them abreast with their specific beats. Storyful, as social newswire has developed tools for monitoring numerous lists on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and other networks and use key words to relate to news event.Previously,journalist popularly used newswires such as AFP, Reuters etc to monitor news story.

Malachy Browne, the news editor of Storyful, in an interview told Journalism journal that, they have developed social media monitoring tools which also include geolocation of posts and tweets. Storyful, owns a software known as Heat map and can search for news based on the velocity of tweets or posts from different geographical location and this is enable by the fact that most smartphones have GPS features.


The media houses in Kenya have restructured to include digital media platforms and this has seen some redundancy. Both the Standard, People Daily, The star and nation media have dedicated digital media teams have developed their with news applications to have a presence in the social media scene.

Other applications like InformaCam have been developed help journalist verify information scoured from the social networks and make the process of user generated content easier. In conclusion, social media has not only, revolutionised news collections process but also call for need to develop new mass media theories to explain this new phenomenon which undermines the popular media effects theories developed in the 1920s.

Has the digital technology changed the way we think of food?

By Zainab Mboga

girl-should-know-how-to-cook. Source:
girl-should-know-how-to-cook. Source:

Food has been my passion ever since I was a little child, and having to grow up at “Mama Halimas” house at the Kenyan coast, cooking was not an option. By the age of 10 cooking was my destiny. While having  many failed experiments with cooking food she would always say “wacha Israf” which simply meant “stop wasting” learn to salvage what you can serve. I have ever since lived with the mantra of appreciating food. So what has changed?

Social media technology has seen a growth in Africa In Kenya for the past five years there has been a tremendous increase use of new technology in the form of computers and mobile phones. Photos taken during rituals, celebrations, fun and captivating moment even just boring days, people have found a way of escape to the internet to serve their ever-growing need to socialize  by uploading images. According to a CNN blog in 2016 Kenya has been listed the third in Africa in terms of internet consumers with 4.5 million users, 12 million in South Africa while 15 million users originating from Nigeria.  Keeping in mind that over 80% of the users were using their mobile phones.


In 2013 there was an approximately 1.6 million daily uploads on Flickr alone on average. By 2015 the number increased to 60.7 million photos a month. Uploading photos is the most popular activity on both Facebook and twitter, while Instagram, currently the largest photo sharing media tool that grew by 23% in 2013. With the likes of Hash tags #TBT #ThrowbackThursday  was born, a platform where people upload their old photos  to pass a fun and exciting message to rest of the world.

The internet technology has created a platform for expressing personal views to the world over. Just as one of the 99 thesis of clue train manifesto where by the internet through the digital platforms has created a means through the global village with its high-speed nature thus “internet is enabling conversation” well explained. According to Instagram 90 new photos are uploaded every minute while in Facebook 60 photos are uploaded daily. The trend seems to be increasing over time. During the recent months Coca-Cola company had started a new trend where their sodas had branded name and had an online campaign challenge to make participants share their meals with coke #ShareaCoke where one will find their desired name tags, win by being awarded free meals and other merchandises. This brought about the increase in uploads of photos that accelerated social conversations.


This new trend of sharing meals has almost become our daily activity. This created the need to visit the newly eatery phenomenons in the country. Cultures of going to Pizza In, Java, KFC and now Subway has seen increasing attendance such that people can be able to share the experiences their friends and family. The terrific Tuesdays and the Pizza Wednesdays where food is sold at buy one get one free has enabled a good number of the people experiencing new foods and later posting them.

Food shows have been increasing in the country from Pika chakula, Royco Fuata Flavor to the AfyaBora show and chungu chetu airing on local television stations have received a welcomed viewing in the local market. Youtube on the other hand has given everyone an opportunity to be a broadcaster. People upload thousand of videos and people from all over the world would subscribe to a particular channel. Restaurants, chefs and homemade artists would upload their videos and sometimes be trending for either good or weird foods  even the media houses would upload some of the content for bloopers. For example food channel on Youtube, worst cooks in America, Hell’s kitchen, cooks versus cons which not only entertain but also teach the viewers on new terminologies and how they are cooked.


In south Korea, however, a new trend of food appreciation is tested to the limit. The eating of meals online providing an opportunity or someone else in the world to dine with them in real time

 In 2000, BBC discovered a big gap in the society thus including a programming content so as to share the rising social problems brought by food. They launched supersize versus super skinny where they were they swap foods for a week and taught to be average portions.

The United Nations is one of the organizations that have used the social media for awareness of the sustainable development goals in order to reduce wastage of food. In their research, the United Nations on the November 2010 declared that more than a third of food is wasted every year a number that has been rapidly increasing and there was a need for the global world to reduce food wastage and reduce poverty rates.

photo by:
photo by:

In summary, for I being a food lover am pleased to say that the local foods have indeed changed from simple traditional foods to now more convenient, appealing, high nutrition value and free delivery through the promotions by social media trends and food ambassadors. “You are what you eat” a common statement reminding everyone to eat just right, glad to be part of the online food revolution.

Saving Lives Through Mobile Phone Innovations

A health worker using a mobile phone App to collect data from a client (Photo: AMREF)

By Carolyne Khamala

For a long time women in Africa are presented with the most difficult decision of whether to provide food for their children or healthcare due to the high cost of accessing quality healthcare services.

 The sub-Saharan Africa is said to be home to 12% of the world’s population with 22% of the global disease burden. In addition, a number of health facilities in Africa are ill equipped to provide basic health services to millions of people in dire need of these services.

To address such issues, a number of health organisations have shifted their focus to research and find innovative ways to provide solutions in order to save lives especially in most underdeveloped countries in sub- Saharan Africa.

Photo: Manifest Mind Mobile

In the recent past, Africa has seen a rise in mobile and internet penetration with over 70% mobile phone penetration and 7-10% getting access to the internet. Mobile phones have revolutionised a number of sectors ranging from education to commerce, agriculture, healthcare and many more.

Most donor funded health orgaisations and corporate organisations such as Safaricom, Kenya’s largest network through the M-pesa Foundation invest largely in innovative solutions to improve the health standards of communities as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Having worked in a health Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) for a number of years, I have had an opportunity to work with a team of creative and innovative researchers who work tirelessly to develop innovative ways to provide health solutions to save lives through the mobile phone technology such as M-Hakika, HELP, m-JALI, m-JIBU which I will discuss briefly in this article.

In my line of duty, I have also documented great stories from some of the beneficiaries of these innovations especially in hard to reach areas where access to quality and affordable healthcare is a major issue.


M-Hakika also known as the mobile wallet health insurance is a mobile phone application that provides access to healthcare and money to women in Kenya who cannot afford the high costs of healthcare services.

The platform also provides women the freedom to make their own decisions about the health of their families. The health wallet also helps them make savings through the mobile phone, pay and receive money for healthcare at any health clinic of their choice.


The Health Enablement Learning Platform (HELP) is a mobile learning solution that provides learning content approved by the Ministry of Health to health workers. The platform can be accessed from any location through the Short Message Service (SMS), audio case – studies, lectures, quizzes and assignments and at the same time helps health workers seek advise from their colleagues and experts.

A health worker in Samburu seeks advise through the HELP platform (Photo: AMREF)

A tracking system provides reports on the users performance. The application has resulted in increased knowledge and skills of the health workers, improved referral levels between the community and the health facility.

The learning platform complements the face-to-face learning while yielding better results than classroom learning.

I recently visited Nzauni Dispensary in Mwingi sub-county where health workers are using the HELP group chat collaboration feature to sensitise community health workers on various health issues and provide direction on how to address various health problems at the household level.

 “The HELP platform has provided a much easier and faster way of communicating with household members within my community. I was able to follow up on a patient suffering from TB and had defaulted for quite some time from the training I undertook through my mobile device,” said one of the health workers.


A demo on  mJALI (Photo: AMREF)

mJALI (Mobile JamiiAfya Link) is a mobile phone application running on Android system that automates the collection and management of health data from community health workers.

Once the data is collected using the mobile phone, the data is transmitted to the Community-based Health Management Information System (CBHMIS) for collation before transmission to the Data Health Information System (DHIS).

More and more developing countries are beginning to use mobile technology in health. In countries such as South Africa is using the MAMA SMS service to provide support to pregnant women and new mothers with evidence-based during postnatal care while BBC launched a WhatsApp mobile phone service to send audio, images and text message alerts to the public on how to combat the spread of Ebola in Africa.

This is a clear indication that in the present time the mobile phone is a powerful tool and plays a key role in providing information and education in health systems in Africa and save millions of lives.