Mfangano Community Health Field Station @ the Ekialo Kiona (EK) Center
The Mfangano Community Health Field Station is a community-rooted enterprise launched in collaboration between the University of Minnesota, Maseno University, and the Organic Health Response (OHR) of Mfangano Island in Kenya.
We seek to advance community-based research, bilateral training opportunities for health practitioners from Kenya and USA, and foster long-term resilience among the communities of Lake Victoria. Through our adaptive “Community Health Ecosystem” model, we are growing transcultural friendships to better understand deep problems and cultivate creative, enduring solutions.
Update from the Mfangano Community Health Field Station on COVID-19 Response
Through the Mfangano Community Health Field Station, we are working with local and international collaborators to help the remote communities of Lake Victoria prepare their COVID-19 response. In accordance with Kenyan Ministry of Health and UMN guidelines, we have closed down activities at the EK Center, suspended student travel to Mfangano, and have also suspended in-person recruitment and data collection activities for our ongoing MOMENTUM Study. Yet our mission remains active. Our research team has shifted gears to focus on MOMENTUM data cleaning and data analysis. UMN MPH students are now teaming up with staff at the EK Center to support our Health Navigator network in distributing accurate COVID information to their rural villages. We are also working with UMN students in the Master's in Development Practice to support the EK FM Radio station in providing on-air resources for community resilience and community health education. This is a critical time to bridge distance with solidarity, to overcome uncertainty with adaptivity, and to empower one another with information and communication. As we say in Suba: Turi alala (We are together!).
Leverage interdisciplinary expertise at UMN to create a model for equitable, bilateral training to support mentored opportunities for American and Kenyan students and scholars to participate in education, training, and project implementation.
Support OHR's "Community Health Ecosystem" approach by implementating and evaluating programs designed to improve and protect the health, culture, and environment of rural fishing communities along the shores of Lake Victoria, Kenya
Develop, implement, and disseminate findings from longitudinal community-based studies designed to evaluate both local and scalable health, nutrition, agriculture, and livelihood interventions for similar populations in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond.
Mfangano Island, Kenya
Mfangano Island lies in the heart of Lake Victoria, and is home to approximately 30,000 people of Luo and Suba descent. Fishing and subsistence farming remain primary occupations. People here speak Suba—an endangered Bantu language spoken nowhere else in the world. Mfangano Island also represents one of the most HIV-impacted populations on the planet, with over 30% of the population infected with HIV.
Organic Health Response (OHR)
Founded in 2008, the Organic Health Response (OHR) represents a unique collaboration between community health workers, organic farmers, and teachers on Mfangano Island, and a network of international researchers, physicians, and student activists. OHR is committed to strengthening the capability and confidence of Mfangano communities to protect their health, culture, and freshwater ecosystem.
Field Station @ EK Center
The Field Station is hosted at OHR’s Ekialo Kiona Center (EK). The EK is a community owned resource center with 5,000 members enrolled through bi-annual HIV counseling and testing sessions. The EK Center is the administrative hub for OHR’s Microclinic Program serving 1,000 HIV impacted families, the EK-FM Suba Radio Station, EK Health Navigators Program coordinating the only ambulance service for 30,000 people, and the Organic Agriculture Institute.