otula owuor editor scienceafrica nairobi kenya e mail info@scienceafrica com ootulah@yahoo com
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Uncommunicated Science is a Waste. Otula Owuor Editor ScienceAfrica Nairobi, Kenya E-mail: [email protected] , [email protected] The Second Session of the Committee on Development Information, Science and Technology CODIST-II 2-5 May 2011, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

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otula owuor editor scienceafrica nairobi kenya e mail info@scienceafrica com ootulah@yahoo com
Uncommunicated Science is a Waste

OtulaOwuorEditor ScienceAfricaNairobi, Kenya E-mail: [email protected], [email protected]

The Second Session of the Committee on DevelopmentInformation, Science and Technology


2-5 May 2011, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

uncommunicated science introduction
  • The need to highlight the importance of Science Communication for Africa Remains unlimited. A myth to say Africa has no science to be communicated. In Africa it is more than mere or latest updates from leading scientists, R&D journals, research labs and technology firms.
  • Effective Science Communication in Africa involves changing attitudes and improving the standard of living on a sustainable basis. It should be sensitive to Indigenous/Traditional Knowledge, Customs, Beliefs, Culture, Language, Religion, Proximity, Gender, Youth, Levels of Education & Socio-economic status. Remind Scientists they are answerable to the public
  • Science Communication can empower individuals, families & communities with new knowledge and applicable skills including “do-it- yourself.” Has a role in overcoming poverty, Ignorance, Superstition, Diseases, Malnourishment, Unsafe Water, Poor Housing and Sanitation.
uncommunicated science introduction1
  • Even in Africa Science Communication must have Elements of “Science/Proven Modern Knowledge;” Turning Research Findings/Facts/Data into locally Credible /Relevant information packages. Scince Communicators must be able to hande and give Locally Appropriate Examples and Implications of Percentages, Ratios, Averages, Mean, Projections etc.
  • Clearly Separate REALITY FROM MYTHS, SUPERSTITION, EXAGGERATIONS and LACK OF TECHNOLOGY FOR CULTURE. Appropriate use of privileged information creates trust.

In Africa Increasing Superstition seems to sustain ignorance/distrust of scientists/science

Innovatively continue Highlighting STI as a major driving force behind -goods & services needed for - socio-economic progress. Increase awareness on “Imported Modernity” or dependency. Encourage “Missionary/Volunteer Spirit among Scientists/Associations in Africa. Be Transparent about Limits/Weaknesses of Science.

uncommunicated science
  • Scientist in Africa Need IMPROVED COMMUNICATION SKILLS. THEY REPRESENT OR SHOULD DIRECTLY EXTEND THEIR “EXPERT VOICE” - to the public, policy makers and target communities, journalists, local entrepreneurs etc - using some of the numerous channels of communications.
  • Language: Examples from China, Japan, India, Korea etc indicate that few countries have developed/ industrialized purely using others’ or imported languages. Making efforts to use local languages increases trust/collaboration/success.
  • African researchers/experts/scientists must overcome the myth that they are incapable of imparting their knowledge/skills using their mother tongues. Science becomes even more foreign if confined to foreign languages. Profile “successful” scientists/target communities
uncommunicated science1

Technical Jargons/ Scientific Terminologies do not constitute “Science Communication.” R&D or Scientific Concepts/Activities into locally appropriate Key Messages including use “native/local ” languages. Science Communication packaging for various audiences, and environmental conditions eg drought, floods.

  • Quantity/details of targeted mails or scientific messages – The fewer the better. Learn from your experience. Science Communication Monitoring & Evaluation Needed.
  • The mass media sets agenda/ stimulates public discussions/ shape public opinion on scientific questions and issues. Policy makers respond to the mass media


uncommunicated science2

Need for Appropriate Training Workshops for African science journalists and scientists – UNECA, CODIST Collaborating with African Federation of Science Journalists with its wide network, Universities and other appropriate institutions.

“Sensitized” Beneficiaries, General Public, Policy Makers, Parliamentarians, Entrepreneurs, Innovators, Fellow Scientists or their associations can lobby for more R&D funding and progressive policies on STI

Established Cultures/Customs/Beliefs including religion, language, gender & age; Behavior Patterns at Individual, Family, Village, Community, National & Regional Levels; Are closely interwoven and determine Credibility & Effectiveness of Science Communication in Africa and could halt, slow or facilitate diffusion of technologies & Innovations

uncommunicated science3

Policy makers – top local and central Government professionals, parliamentarians, politicians, ministers, heads of state look for what “serves/is good“ for them or rather their constituents . Let them be aware of future, emerging and available benefits.

Tricky: Avoid being plunged into political games/camps; Although EVEN “Undemocratic regimes” need scientists to survive “former Communist powers Soviet Union/ China.

Discuss Need for African Scientists to sustain Efforts sensitize top policy makers- Zimbabwe, Zambia, Uganda, Mozambique, Congo DRC, Angola, South Africa, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Senegal, AU etc .

Finally Credibly Highlight various aspects of existing and emerging STI successes – products, services, skills & beneficiaries in the neighborhood. PEOPLE IMPACT.

uncommunicated science top policy makers

One of Africa’s science Guru the Late Prof Thomas Odhiambo – linked with founding of AAS, ICIPE, a network of skilled insect scientists, endless efforts to sensitize African heads of state, top policy makers, entrepreneurs on the importance of home grown STI. He was honoured by the state post-humously.

African Scientists Deserve more home grown support and recognition

uncommunicated science lolliondo tanzania

Convoy to Loliando, Tanzania for treatment/cure by Faith Healer/Herbalist Pastor Mwasapile charging only $0.12. What is the message to our health experts? A failed healthcare system, blow to socialisation/popularisation of science? Envy of private medical practitioners? New routes to innovation

uncommunicated science hope

Nigeria: Over 100

R&D Products Await


By Alex Abutu(SciDev)

Failure to commercialise existing research is holding back Nigeria’s

economic development, minister of science and technology, Mohammed

Ka’ojeAbubakar, has said.He identified a lack of ‘demand-driven’

research, and poor links between research institutes and the private

sector, as the main culprits.“Nigeria has not attained….

Mwaura’s Home security system innovation

Morris Mbetsa’s innovation mobile car tracking system

Morris Mbetsa’s innovation

mobile car tracking system

Mobile grain moisture meter