prof Judith 2019

Prof. Judith Kimiywe of the department of Food Nutrition and Dietetics has been awarded a grant of Euro 279,926 by the Flemish Interuniversity Council (VLIR) to carry out a collaborative research titled Insects for Nutrition and Health: Development and Evaluation of Insect-based Complementary Foods for Children in Kenya. The project which is being undertaken in collaboration with Ghent University in Belgium and University of Nairobi aims to strengthen research and education capacity as a means of generating and exchanging knowledge and contributing to the fight against poverty.
This project seeks to address the issues surrounding undernutrition and sustainability of protein diets and possible avenues to explore edible insects as an alternative strategy to attaining nutrition. Additionally, the project will also seek to augment the idea of insect nutrition by researching on nutritional values, safety and socio economic issues surrounding insect nutrition. These complementary foods are to be developed using palatable insect species combined with germinated cereals, vegetables, root tubers and fruits. Thereafter, the nutritional value and microbiological safety of insect based food will then be determined, this will then inform the effectiveness of insect based complementary foods together with its acceptance and economic potential. The project is slated to run for 5 years and will support one PhD and 8 Masters students in their research work.


Research by:
Prof. Judith Kimiywe
Associate Professor, Department of Food Nutrition and Dietetics
Kenyatta University
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Education empowers people for their role in society and therefore is of vital importance to promote sustainable development. Globalization has prompted technological, economic and sociocultural change, consequently creating a growing demand for society’s capacity to acquire, process, disseminate and apply knowledge. Globally, universities are tasked with the functions of teaching, research and service to the community with research taking center stage as it serves the other 2 functions. Knowledge generated through research is fed into the content knowledge for university curricula and thus contributes to enriching teaching by ensuring that it is informed by new knowledge. Further research designed to find answers to societal problems deepens understanding of these problems and yields knowledge that is used to solve them thus universities serve as a link between knowledge generation and transfer of knowledge to society. Similarly universities actively contribute to the societal development through outreach and service to society. In addition to basic research, universities also have to undertake innovative, action-oriented research for development. Societal problems are almost always complex thus require multidisciplinary approaches to resolve. The challenge for universities is to create rich learning environments that prepare learners for their roles in society. Thus, universities can be perceived as models for society in the pursuit of sustainable development.

‘‘Research is the yoke that joins the core functions of universities’’


Disconnect Between Policy and Practice

Though universities are expected to be centers of knowledge creation through research, what forms acceptable evidence-based research that can inform policy remains contested. Subsequently low academic research uptake and application is prevalent. Scholars argue that policy-makers tend to ignore academic research; whereas policy-makers maintain that academic research is seldom timely or directly relevant to their needs.

‘Academics lament that policy-makers ignore their research, while policy-makers argue that academic research is largely irrelevant to their needs’’

There is growing demand that policy and professional practice be evidence based. It is argued that effective use of research-based knowledge has the potential to improve the quality of public policy and enhance public services and delivery systems. Kenya’s Vision 2030 is anchored on 3 pillars; social, political and economic. Research is expected to play a vital role in formulation of relevant and practical policies for each of these pillars. Most challenges that confront humanity have a lot to do with social-psycho issues rather than scientific and economic knowledge. Thus a focus on social science research is important in informing and guiding policy. However the extent to which social science research is utilized in policy formulation is limited. It is against this backdrop that Prof. Grace Bunyi, an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Management, Policy and Curriculum Development is leading a team of social science researchers in undertaking a Project titled: ‘An assessment of the production of social science research by universities and its utilization by policy makers and practitioners in Kenya’ that seeks to establish the production of social science research by university-based social scientists and its utilization for policy formulation by national and county government ministries and semi-autonomous government agencies. The study is expected to provide evidence on the application or lack application of academic research in policy formulation. With this kind of evidence strategies and structures can be formulated for academic research uptake so that the research results are not shelved once the research is complete, but be useful in addressing community problems.

‘‘The interface between social science research and policy is extremely unsatisfactory to both researchers and policy makers. The problem is the unrealistic expectation about what the social sciences can achieve in the process of development. Policy-makers have always had a basically instrumentalist and technocratic view of science, research and training.’’

Project led by:
Prof. Grace W. Bunyi
Associate Professor,
Department of Educational Management, Policy and Curriculum Development
Kenyatta University
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Project financed by: Kenyatta University Vice Chancellors Research Grant



Saving Lives, One Child One Community at a time. 

Nutrition in the first 1000 days of life is critical for child growth wellbeing and survival, interventions promoting optimal infant and young child nutrition (IYCN) could prevent a fifth of under 5 deaths. Cases of IYCN are rife and widely documented in Kenya like in any other developing countries. To mitigate the situation, in 2007 the Country’s Division of Nutrition developed a national strategy to promote optimal IYCN practices actualized through the baby friendly hospital initiatives (BFHI) in maternity wards. This however has not changed much as 2 out of 5 women deliver in health facilities and further IYCN practices are greatly influenced by traditional beliefs and practices hence the impact of the baby friendly hospital initiatives has been minimal.

“Nutrition in the first 1000 days of life is critical for child growth wellbeing and survival”


Figure 1:One of the trainers illustrating attachment and positioning while breastfeeding



                             Figure 2 CHVs singing a song on breastfeeding

Recognizing the need to reach women at the community level in order to provide them with a comprehensive support system to improve breastfeeding practices and other maternal, infant and young child nutrition practices at the community level, considerations of implementing Baby Friendly Community Initiative (BFCI) have been fronted by the Division of Nutrition. The initiative which employs similar principles to the earlier hospital initiative is being piloted, solid evidence on its effectiveness, how best it works and its cost effectiveness in the Kenyan contexts are being sort to promote political buy in, budgetary allocation and effective implementation at the national level. A team being led by Prof. Judith Kimiywe – Department of Food, Nutrition and Dietetics is carrying out the pilot community trial in rural setting to determine the project’s viability.

The Intervention Plan.
A cluster-randomized study has been adopted where 13 clusters constituting community units were identified with half being dedicated to the intervention and the other half to control. Overall 800 mother-child pair are engaged and are being followed up until child is six months. The community support groups for mothers comprises of about 20 mothers per group including a supportive team comprising of a community health extension worker, an older woman and a community leader. The mothers in the group meet regularly: ideally, once a month to offer each other peer-counseling and support with regards to breastfeeding and other maternal, infant and young child nutrition practices. Group members role include;
•Community Health Worker serves as group facilitator.
•The older woman is viewed as a model mother and serves a resource person. (She is carefully selected, based on knowledge and experience with infant feeding)
•The community leader, (may be the area chief or village elder), also a resource person particularly on administrative issues.
•The extension worker, who may be a skilled nurse offers technical advice to the group.

Content of Counselling Sessions  

 Maternal nutrition:

Food portions during pregnancy and lactation
Appropriate foods (nutritious, affordable, and locally available) during pregnancy and lactation
Frequency of feeding during pregnancy and lactation

Breast positioning and attachment
Immediate initiation of breastfeeding after birth
Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months
Frequency and duration of breastfeeding


Expressing breast milk, storage and cup feeding
Dealing with breast conditions
Breastfeeding for HIV-positive women

Complementary feeding:
Timely initiation of complementary foods
Appropriate complementary foods (nutritious, affordable, and locally available)
Feeding frequency and quantity
Appropriate feeding practices including hygiene and responsive feeding behaviors
Safe preparation and storage of food

“Regular assessment of knowledge, attitudes and practices on maternal, infant and young child nutrition are to be done coupled with nutritional status of the mother-child pairs and morbidity for the children”.

Field Experiences and Visits
In September and October, the field workers teams visited Simotwet Community Unit where one of the mothers had delivered 3 months earlier. The baby was born weighing 3.3 kgs and had increased to 6.6 kgs at 3 months. In Solian Community Unit the team visited two mothers one 15 years old with a one week old baby weighing 3.2 kgs born at home and taken taken to the hospital after three (3) days. Despite Solian being an intervention community Unit the young mother had not been visited by a Community Health Volunteer even during her pregnancy. The same case applied to the second household visited.

At Kiptuno Community Unit the team visited two household, the first young mother had a one month old baby weighing 3.2kgs, she delivered at home with her mother’s help and the reason of home delivery was abrupt labour, she visited the hospital after 3 days. Apart from breastfeeding, she was giving her baby traditional herbs sagitiek this is despite her admission that the baby did not have any health problems to warrant the herbs being administered, this was done following her mother’s insistence. The other mother a trained teacher had a normal delivery at the local health centre. The 1month 2weeks baby weighed 3.2 kgs at birth and had increased to 5.1 kgs. Other than breastfeeding well, she gave water to the baby once in a while.
An overall sample of the mothers from both the intervention and control group revealed that most had intentions to exclusively breastfeed for 6 months and later introduce complementary feeding while continuing to breastfeed until the 2 years and beyond.
Community Health Workers in both intervention and control areas are given a motivation package which includes a seed grant to the whole group to initiate an income-generating activity, and train mothers on income-generating activities.

Income Generating Activities
Listed are activities undertaken across the 13 community Units
Farming Cabbages, Oats, potatoes, tree nursery, rabbit keeping, bee keeping, poultry farming, flower farming.
Table banking

The importance of breastfeeding and optimal infant feeding promotion in child-survival cannot be overemphasized. Identification of feasible and effective strategies for promotion of optimal infant feeding is of utmost importance. The results from this trial are expected to provide evidence regarding the feasibility of implementing the BFCI in Kenya and its effectiveness on breastfeeding, morbidity from diarrhea, and nutritional status among infants. This is expected to inform policy and practice regarding child survival in Kenya and other Low and Middle Income Countries (LIMCs). It is expected to inform the roll-out of the BFCI in Kenya and other LIMCs where it is under consideration, which goes beyond the BFHI to promote optimal breastfeeding and other infant feeding practices at the community level.

Principal Researcher
Prof. Judith Kimiywe
Department of Food, Nutrition and Dietetics, School of Applied Human Sciences

Project financed by: National Academy of Sciences
Download Paper published:Feasibility and effectiveness of the baby friendly community initiative in rural Kenya:study protocol for a randomized controlled trial



Does language impact on development?

African divisiveness and disunity traces back to the colonial era where lingual borders were used to draw boundaries that created African states. Policies drawn by the former colonial powers were used slow African development by hindering cohesion of thought and understanding, hence undermining capacity for development.

‘‘Multilingualism is a differentiated reality in Africa’’

Dr. Fridah Kanana, a lecturer at Kenyatta University, in her paper ‘Examining African Languages as Tools for National Development: The Case of Kiswahili’ suggests that language is integral to development. She explores the impacts of linguistic divisiveness to African development, and views language as a major contributing factor towards the consolidation of nationhood and realization of national development. Dr. Kanana further notes that if Africans had adopted one of their widely understood languages such as Kiswahili in Kenya and Tanzania, capacity for development in Africa would be greater.

However, leaders who took over from the colonial era did not put much consideration to language policies and continued to use the languages of the colonial masters as the languages of prestige. According to Dr. Kanana, development in Africa slowed down because important communication relied on foreign languages and the parties involved in the process of development could not interact effectively. This she sees as a failure on African states, who need to develop a clear language policy; lack of which is a major handicap to regional development.

Bridging the Gaps

 "Language can be a key contributing force towards the consolidation of nationhood and the realization of national development."

The dominance of foreign languages has undermined the national cohesion, perception and responsibilities of Africans as citizens and seriously undercut development of self-confidence and sense of ‘Africanness’. The Asmara Declaration on African Languages and Literatures and the Cultural Charter for Africa are some of the campaigns and declarations on linguistic human rights aimed at the promotion of linguistic justice and the removal or prevention of linguistic injustices. Research shows that Kenya faces the predicament of losing its cultural heritage and development through subordination of the cultural languages. In West Africa, Hausa and Pulaar are two dominant languagesacross 12 nations, yet none of the languages have been referred to as an “international language” or “language of wider communication”.

Way Forward

"If a common language is adopted, the transfer of skills, new knowledge and other vital information desired to effect radical and sustainable changes in 21 st century African states will be both feasible and relevant to the building of a true sense of Africanity"

Quoting the Late Prof. Mazrui, Dr. Kanana notes that the need to “scientificate” African languages cannot be over-emphasized. She observes that there is need for African countries to undertake a thorough review of their language situation and establish policies cognizant with their national aspirations, optimum utilization of the national linguistic resources and the ultimate national goal.

Research by:
Dr. Fridah Kanana
Senior Lecturer, Department of English and Linguistics
Kenyatta University
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nuclear magnetic

Kenyatta Universtity’s acquistion of a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectrometer progressively actualizes the Unversity’s Vision of being a teaching and research centre (Analytics Centre) for chemical and biochemical studies in kenya and he region. The equipment’s 400MZ capacity will increase the output of research in bio-prospecting natural products and pharmaceutical compounds enhancing the University biomedical research in areas such as complementary and alternative medicine. Students will experience a simple and fast sample analysis process, whic was not the case. The new equipment will not only be limited to the University, other researchers working on diverse natural products will also have access to the NMR spectrometer. The University further acquired two Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectroscopy courtesy of the Norvatis Institute of Biomedical Research in Cambridge USA.