By Christine Odongo
Science journalists in East Africa will this November gather in the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa for the third Kenya Science Journalists Congress. MESHA, will organize the event as a major East African-wide congress of science journalists where research institutions, NGOs and international bodies will discuss the practice and future of science journalism.
The meeting will be held from November 10 to 12, 2019, bringing together over 150 science journalists from the region to promote greater cohesiveness between science journalists and science communities, especially communicators, donors, scientists and policy makers.
“We expect to host nearly 150 key science journalists drawn from 9 countries namely; Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, Djibouti, Sudan and South Sudan,” says Violet Otindo, the chairperson of the 13-year old media network.
She added that the Congress fee is $200 USD for local journalists, and $300 USD for foreign journalists, while MESHA members will each pay $150 USD to attend. She urged journalists reporting in agriculture, health and environment to reserve the date for the event.
With the theme, Establishing effective relationships between science journalists and scientists, the event will mark only the third time such a forum will have been held. The Congress aims to sustain interactions among journalists and scientists. Similar forums were held in October 2013 and November 2015. In addition, it seeks to continue to provide a platform to enhance the already promising engagement between policy makers, science institutions and the academia regarding the place of science in research and development.
Other objectives are to showcase achievements of key projects being undertaken by various international research institutes and regional scientific organizations, provide a forum where science journalists take stock of what really goes on in the science space in the region and to introduce and mentor young journalists into science reporting.
Previous MESHA congresses and conferences attracted senior heads of research institutions, researchers, policy makers and the academia and the 2019 Congress promises an even richer experience.
MESHA, a Kenyan based science media organization, is recognized as the most active science journalists’ network in Africa and has been training journalists from Africa on how best to report health, agriculture and environment. The network publishes a regular science magazine known as Sayansi, a Kiswahili word for Science, the only publication of this kind in the region. It has in the past fundraised and solely organised three African wide science journalist conferences, with the last one being held last December in Nairobi. According to the MESHA secretariat, the next African Conference of Science Journalists will be held in Nairobi in November 2020.