Monday, 28 Jul 2014

Data Dredger project helps journalists tell in-depth family planning stories


By Dorothy Otieno

Data Dredger is an Internews site on data journalism practice. Unique in Africa, it is a tool built through the Health Media Project to provide content, which journalists and newsrooms can use to build and enhance data storytelling. Here, one can mine data, try out our visualizations and other interactive products as well as download easy-to-use spreadsheets and ready-to-use infographics to accompany stories. In the first three decades of independence Kenyan families began to have far fewer children after Kenya became the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to encourage family planning. However, in the last two decades, the birth rate became fixed at around five children per woman, putting both mothers and children at higher risk of premature death. These are some of the revelations on Data Dredger’s project: The lost decades: Family planning in Kenya.

Based on these findings, the Internews in Kenya data journalism team mentored print, radio and TV journalists to produce data driven stories spotlighting the factors that hinder women from accessing contraceptives and the grave consequences of unmet family planning needs of women and girls.

Burden of Kenya’s teen mothers by Mercy Juma that was published as a cover story on Daily Nation’s DN2 on June 11 was one of the stories that stood out. The story reveals that one in every three Kenyan girls gives birth by the age of 19, a scenario that is putting a lot of pressure on the nation’s healthcare, economic and social systems. This story utilized data and infographics from the Data Dredger project, "The lost decades: Family planning in Kenya". The infographics used included ‘informed choices’ and ‘preventing teenage pregnancies’.

Powerful, powerful report - soldier on. That is what I call a real story that is well researched,” is the message that KBC journalist Lusanji Begisen got from her Editor-in-Chief after her two-part story: “At what cost?” was aired on KBC TV on Prime Time on 7 and 8 June. Part one (four minutes) focuses on the challenges and consequences when teenagers cannot access contraceptives. Part two (seven minutes) looks at the cost of post abortion care to the public health system, following unsafe abortions. In her story, Lusanji used infographics from Data Dredger. An equally powerful five-minute story: Teen moms, Abby Kahuthia, broadcast on K24, depicts the powerful utility of the data journalism tool.

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