By Duncan Mboyah
Nutrition experts on Tuesday called for the adoption of an open data system to help solve nutrition problems in Kenya.
The experts said that the use of open data will enable nutritionists to get information on malnutrition from rural parts of Kenya in time and help lower the current figure of 1.3 million children who are suffering.
They further called for re-allocation of funds, employment of qualified staff and partnership engagement to help improve the current status.
“Nutrition problem is a major challenge to achieving the country’s vision 2030 and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Kenya,” said Esther Omosa, senior nutrition specialist at Feed the Future Kenya’s accelerated value chain development program, during a workshop on open data for nutrition in Nairobi.
Omosa said that cases of stunting, underweight and anemia are on the rise in children in the country.
She stated that currently, 26 percent of children aged five years are suffering from stunting while four percent are wasted and 11 percent underweight, hence the need to intensify nutrition programs through an open data system.
“We need an open data system to avail information on food consumption, especially fruits and vegetables to keep populations healthy,” she added.
Omosa told a workshop that has been convened by African Centre for Advanced Technology (ACAT) and Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) that food production is declining in the country because farmers lack necessary data on weather and seeds.
She called for the development of comprehensive programs on data needed through developing people’s capacity.
“This will enable us scale up and diversify farming as well as improve the targets and commitments,” she said.
Boniface Akuku, director of information, communication and technology at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) said that the technology will make it easier for experts to gather information and act within a short time.
Akuku said that once open data is fully operationalized in the country, cases of malnutrition in far flung rural areas will end as information will be received and acted upon in time.
He noted that with the latest developments in communication, experience based on evidence has been passed on over time.
“With the advent of computers, information gathering has been automated in data form for easier communication,” he added.
The official revealed that lack of up to date data is to blame for delayed action by policy makers who lack data to make the decisions.
The workshop was funded by Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) and UK aid.