Senior KMFRI scientists conduct self audit to enhance their institutional image and improve communication channels of research output in an effort to put a shine on addressing their mandate: By Dr. Melckzedeck K. Osore

KMFRI has embarked on an ambitious programme to improve its visibility and how it communicates research output countrywide. In a Webinar chaired by the Institute’s Director General Prof. James Njiru this week on 16th August 2021, which was attended by senior scientists from all the Directorates of KMFRI, an open discussion explored possible ways to enhance the Institute’s visibility and improve communication with local partners and also, most importantly, the community it serves.

KMFRI Headquarter Located along Ludwig Krapf Road, English Point, Mombasa, Kenya

The Webinar was hosted by Ms Jane Kiguta of KMFRI Corporate Communications & Public Relations (PR) and also attended by Mr. Sam Ng’ete and Ms. Edna Onkundi of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Ms. Priscilla Githui of Sales and Marketing.

The overall objective of the Webinar was to put a shine on KMFRI’s visibility and communication  channels. This is in recognition of the fact that although KMFRI’s research scientists are well know among their peers regionally and globally through their publications and other scientific output,  they are hardly known by community members in localities adjacent to centres and stations countrywide where they conduct their research. Consequently, the research they conduct is not well known and hence not fully appreciated by the local communities. This is also compounded by various reasons including the format in which the research results are packaged and the language in which it is communicated.

During the open discussion, the visibility of KMFRI research activities and feedback from stakeholders was discussed and approaches for improvement suggested. Various approaches of improving KMFRI’s visibility and its core activities as well as channels of communicating research output were explored. These included the need to invite media houses for briefings on project objectives prior to commencement of new research and thereafter the results on their completion was highlighted. It was pointed out that most projects have customized presentation templates that fade away once the research activities are completed. Therefore, an Institutional dissemination template integrating  how KMFRI’s core activities are linked to those of the funded projects was proposed.

Participants recognized the single most important asset in KMFRI’s possession – data sets on fisheries, marine and all aquatic environments of Kenya. These are available in various formats for use as raw data or value added products by partners and collaborators through formal arrangement. Inclusion of communication costs to be channeled through KMFRI for every operating project  was proposed, which will enable the institute to communicate how the project is aligned to KMFRI’s mandate, linkage to the prevailing strategic objectives and how it contributes towards attaining Kenya’s Vision 2030.

The need to communicating KMFRI’s research output in the national language of Kiswahili was emphasized. Use of indigenous languages on local FM radio/tv stations to disseminate research output effectively where KMFRI centres and stations are located for ease of understanding and participation by the local communities was also encouraged. Tabulated below is a summary of suggestions raised by the participants to improve KMFRI’s image and communication of research activities and eventual output as well as the proposed way forward.

Valuable experience-based insights from various KMFRI centres and stations were contributed by Dr. Paul Orina (Kegati), Dr. Chrispine Nyamweya (Kisumu), Dr. Kevin Obiero (Sang’oro), Dr. David Mirera (Mombasa), Mr. John Malala (Turkana), Dr. Domittila Kyule (Sagana), Ms. Lilian Daudi (Mombasa), Dr. Jacob Ochiewo (Mombasa), Dr. Jacqueline Uku (Mombasa) and Dr. Gladys Okemwa (Mombasa).

Summary of 10 Key Suggestions Raised and Way Forward Proposed

Enhanced Visibility/Improved Communication

Suggested way forward for KMFRI’s Prosperity

  • Communication Budget

Inclusion of project communication in all donor funded projects by KMFRI

  • Research and Public Relation

Enhance linkage between research and PR

  • Researchers profiles

Scientists to be proactive in updating their profiles regularly

  • Dissemination template integrated

Develop customized template for dissemination (KMFRI presentations, brochures, posters)

  • Review of communication activities

Regular meeting between scientists and the KMFRI communication

  • KMFRI Website

Re-design KMFRI website to be current and active

  • Inclusion of Kiswahili and local languages

a) Translate policy briefs, brochures and research outcome into Kiswahili b) use local FM radios

  • Media briefings to map out New and completed Projects

Invite media houses for briefing during commencement of project and dissemination of outputs

  • ICT and PR

Conduct regular meetings between ICT and PR

  • KMFRI Data sets

Develop on-line system of sharing metadata on past and present projects as well as archived data in KMFRI’s possession and use by partners