Mfangano Community Health Field Station

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.



Mfangano Field Station Spotlight

When there are no longer words to capture a life lived or a moment in time, we lose something critical. Language is central to human experience.

Through an explorers grant supported by National Geographic, the Mfangano Community Health Field Station, a community-rooted enterprise launched in collaboration between the Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility, Maseno University in Kisumu, Kenya, and Organic Health Response (OHR), is embarking on an oral history project to preserve the Suba language and culture.

Read The Last of the Torchbearers

A man, a woman, and another man stand next to each other within a green circle.


A map of Mfangano Island off the coast of Kenya

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.





A large group of people

Organic Health Response


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.




Mfangano Island Diagram


Mfangano Field Station Strategy

Training — 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.

Community Health — Support OHR's "Community Health Ecosystem" approach by implementing and evaluating programs designed to improve and protect the health, culture, and environment of rural fishing communities along the shores of Lake Victoria, Kenya

Research — 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.


2 women stand in front of trees having a discussion

Mfangano Island Student Opportunities

At the Mfangano Field Station, UMN students work under the guidance of a local community-based organization, the Organic Health Response—Ekialo Kiona Center (OHR-EKC). OHR-EKC has developed an innovative model to improve access to emergency maternal and neonatal health (MNH) services within Mfangano Island Division of Lake Victoria, Kenya.

Learn more about current opportunities for students to get involved in community health projects at the Field Station



News from the Mfangano Field Station

Update from the Mfangano Community Health Field Station on COVID-19 Response

Updates from the Field: Mfangano Community Health Field Station


Our Mfangano Community Field Station Partners

Logos for the Organic Health Response and Museno University