Microclinic Expansion Targets Mfangano, Remba & Ringti Islands

This past month, OHR has officially begun one of our biggest program expansions to date! Years in the making, our team on Mfangano has now begun identifying patients at local clinics who might benefit from additional support help stay on life-sustaining HIV treatment. Over the coming months, our team will help organize nearly 400 patients – and their self-identified social networks – into health teams called kanyaklas. In total, three to four thousand people will participate in a kanyakla (or microclinic) over the next two years on Mfangano and neighboring Ringiti and Remba islands.

Kanyakla groups will learn together about HIV and how they can collectively promote one another’s health. Groups will go through a series of structured discussion sessions, complete with role-plays and team building activities. These sessions will be led by local community health workers using beautiful new curriculum materials developed in conjunction with Mango Tree, a Ugandan design firm. After learning together, each group will take a collective leap of faith in the strength of their commitment to one another and will participate in a group HIV status disclosure session. By being fully transparent about one another’s HIV status, these groups will become a powerful platform for helping support those who are in need of HIV treatment.

The microclinic program was rigorously tested during a pilot study from 2011 to 2013 (see scientific publication of our results). During that evaluation, we determined that the intervention reduced drop out from HIV care by 50%. Simple interventions with this degree of effect have potential for tremendous impact in a region where up to one third of patients starting HIV therapy drop out of care within the first two years. We aim to leverage the powerful forces of social ties to make health ‘contagious’ across social networks, throughout communities, and across the wider region.

Learn more about our kanyakla or microclinic model. Big thanks to our partner Microclinics International and to the Segal Family Foundation for funding this expansion.

USAID Research & Innovation Fellowship Open!

USAID logo Applications are now open to receive a USAID Research & Innovation Fellowship through the Organic Health Response. This unique opportunity will allow an enthusiastic student to join our team and spend 6-12 months on Mfangano Island!

We offer a unique opportunity to participate in the evaluation and refinement of a nutrition intervention that uses a novel social network approach to treat whole social networks affected by maternal and child malnutrition. A fellow will participate in a case-control study on nutrition behaviors, nutrition knowledge assessment, and focus groups on pathways of effectiveness. Further, a fellow will contribute directly to the planned expansion of the intervention, providing recommendations for how best to scale, improve, and evaluate the program.

To learn more, please see the USAID Research & Innovation Fellowship website. Apply today!

RECH Shares Reports with Participants

The Research on Environmental and Community Health (RECH) Study has worked with over 300 households and Mfangano’s 19 Beach Management Units over the last two years to study how environmental change affects household health. The RECH study visited families throughout all of Mfangano. This effort paved the way for the Kanyakala expansion, which extends EK services to the entire island.

EK Community Mobilizer shares study report in local Beach Management Unit near the lake shore

EK Community Mobilizer shares study report in local Beach Management Unit near the lake shore

As the household survey portion of the RECH study winds to a close, we celebrated the success of the study with our research participants. As we thanked them for joining the research effort, we also shared individualized household data with each family. Each household received a report detailing their children’s growth, nutrition, and cognitive development over the past two years. And, children with faltering growth were referred to EK’s nutritional support program.

It was a pleasure to hear the ways our participant families appreciated the research study, and to see how big the participant children have become! We are tremendously grateful to our participant families, the BMU leaders who collect fishery data, and our wonderful EK staff for making this effort possible.


Nutrition Embedding Evaluation Program Grant

Organic Health Response is proud to have received a Nutrition Embedding Evaluation Program (NEEP) grant from PATH / DFID. The grant will allow us to evaluate our pilot kanyakala nutrition programming, which includes curriculum sessions and food security planning with the East kanyakala groups. Our evaluation will assess whether community members and Community Health Volunteers who participated in and led our nutrition kanyakala curriculum nutrition have more nutrition knowledge than people who did not participate. In addition, we will use data from the RECH research study to examine quantitative changes in nutrition behavior. Finally, we will use focus groups to understand the ways our program did and did not work and make improvements in our work on Mfangano.

Cooking demonstration at the Ekialo Kiona Center!

Cooking demonstration at the Ekialo Kiona Center!

Mala Masa kanyakla group in a community meeting

Mala Masa kanyakla group in a community meeting

Research Article: “Transactional fish-for-sex relationships amid declining fish access in Kenya”

Last week our work on fish-for-sex relationships and fish decline in Lake Victoria was published in the journal of World Development. A big thank you to Katie Fiorella, Dan Omollo and our entire community health research team for their hard work!

Transactional Fish-for-Sex Relationships Amid Declining Fish Access in Kenya.

Below is the citation:

Fiorella, K.J., Camlin, C.S., Salmen, C.R., Omondi, R. Hickey, M.D., Omollo, D.O., Milner, E.M., Bukusi, E.A., Fernald, L.C.H., Brashares, J.S. 2015. Transactional Fish-for-Sex Relationships Amid Declining Fish Access in Kenya. World Development. 74: 323-332.

Community Health Nurse – Opening

We are hiring a new Community Health Nurse!

The Ekialo Kiona Community Health Nurse will be a full-time position that will assist in the management and provision of community health services to the Mfangano Island population. Primary responsibilities will include program development, administrative management, and participation in a local strategy for reproductive health, emergency response and regional advocacy for improved health.

View the job posting by clicking below.

Community Health Nurse – Job Posting

It’s a Wrap! RECH Study Complete


The Research on Environmental and Community Health (RECH) Study is designed to understand the links between the health of people and their environment. Rech means ‘fish’ in Dholuo, and belies the focus of this research on the role that fish access plays in livelihoods, food security, and the health of young children on Mfangano.

To understand the links between fish catch and people’s health and well-being, we began working with over 300 households on Mfangano and 19 Beach Management Units in December 2012. For over two years since then, we visited these households every 3 months to learn about their fishing and farming activities, fish consumption, and growth and cognitive development of their young children. At the same time, we worked with local Beach Management Units (fishery co-managers and fish landing sites) to collect daily data on fish catch, prices, and fishing effort. We are excited to be completing the data collection for this study and tremendously grateful to the Mfangano families and fishers and OHR staff who supported this effort!

This research has already informed OHR’s programming, especially the Microclinics’ Nutrition Curriculum, support for malnutrition referrals and distribution of food supplements, and developing Food Security programming. We look forward to continuing to learn from this data and expanding our services on Mfangano – as well as contributing to our broader understanding of how environmental health affects human health, around Lake Victoria and beyond.

This research study is led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley. Please find out more about the initial results of our work on our Publications page and look for more results coming soon! Please feel free to be in touch with Katie Fiorella (kfiorella[@]organichealthresponse.org) for more information.

Executive Director Position Opening

Mfangano road BP

As our organization grows, we are excited to bring on a new Executive Director to lead our efforts. The Executive Director job description and application instructions are on the Executive Director Position page. We welcome any questions to Kelsi Hines at khines[@]organichealthresponse.org.

OHR is seeking a dynamic, enthusiastic Executive Director committed to our mission of strengthening the health, resilience and voice of the greater Mfangano Island Community. We seek an ED who is interested in growing with our organization as a leader in our future progress. The ideal candidate has an aligned vision with the organization’s mission and experience in international development, operational and program management, and fundraising skills to support the organization’s expanding impact.

If this sounds like you, or someone you know, check out the job opening and send us your application! We are accepting applications through June 15, 2015.

Local generosity saves lives in Western Kenya

The Post Independent out of Glenwood Springs, CO, ran an article last week about our health navigation and emergency response program in Kenya:

What a difference a year can make. Early last year, we received this message from our friend Walter Opiyo, the emergency boat captain on Mfangano Island, Kenya:

26, Jan, 2014:

“It was around midnight the father called me for assistance, that his wife was feeling labor pain and I was worried due to the condition of the boat. So I called back to inform him to come down to the beach immediately. Imagine it was raining and the lake was wavy with strong winds. Therefore I decided to grab the boat very fast, since the situation was growing more worse that I could not wait long, the baby was almost coming out and Eve (the wife) was restless and weak due to pain.

Read the entire article here