impactAFRICA grantee headed to Tactical Tech Data Camp in Montenegro

Stellar Murumba at Hacks/Hackers Nairobi, 15 June 2017

Stellar Murumba is having a good year. The journalist will be enhancing her Chokers project at the Tactical Tech Data Camp in Montenegro in July this year.

The financial and investigative health journalist is employed at Business Daily in Nairobi while working on her Chokers project, which is funded through Code for Africa’s impactAFRICA programme.

As part of Tactical Tech , Stellar will be attending a 5-day camp for exploring data, investigating issues, and finding stories, in a small medieval port in Montenegro. Her project was chosen out of 300 applicants.

“Being a journalist in Nairobi is not an easy thing,” says Stellar, “[as] accessing information from government is so hard. As a journalist to access information, to verify facts, is difficult.” Even with the Access to Information Bill, Stellar says it’s a challenge to get your hands on data.

Chokers is an investigation into counterfeit medicines in Kenya and includes data research, investigation, and lab testing. The project was awarded funding in the second round of the impactAFRICA funding call and is already starting to make an impact.

“A week after the first story was published there were raids on unregistered pharmacies in Kitui and upper and lower Eastern regions in Kenya, where 57 people were arrested by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board, ” says Stellar. And just this week the Kenya Revenue Authority destroyed counterfeit goods in Mombasa, worth over Sh500million, including two brands of fake viagra.

Talking more about her project, Stellar says working on Chokers has been a steep learning curve as she’s never worked with a lab before. “I’m working closely with the labs, and they’ve been guiding me, so I know which drugs I’m going after, which antimalarials and antibiotic medicines I’ll be sampling.”

That story is the first of a series of stories that will be published for this project, which Stellar hopes she can scale into other African countries.

Follow the Chokers project on Facebook and Twitter using #ChokersKe


The partners

Code for Africa (CfAfrica) is the custodian of impactAFRICA and is the continent’s largest independent open data and civic technology initiative. It operates as a federation of autonomous country-based digital innovation organisations that support ‘citizen labs’ in five countries and major projects in a further 15 countries. CfAfrica runs Africa’s OpenGov Fellowships and also embeds innovation fellows into newsrooms and social justice organisations to help liberate data of public interest, or to build tools that help empower citizens. In addition to fellowships and CitizenLabs, CfAfrica runs the $1 million per year innovateAFRICA fund and the $500,000 per year impactAFRICA fund, which both award seed grants to civic pioneers for experiments with everything from camera drones and environmental sensors, to encryption for whistleblowers and data-driven semantic analysis tools for investigative watchdogs. CfAfrica also curates continental resources such as the africanSPENDING portal of budget transparency resources, the openAFRICA data portal, the sourceAFRICAdocument repository and the connectedAFRICA transparency toolkit for tracking the often hidden social networks and economic interests in politics. CfAfrica is an initiative of the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ).

International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) is at the forefront of the news revolution. Its programmes empower journalists and engage citizens with new technologies and best practices. ICFJ’s networks of reporters and media entrepreneurs are transforming the field. ICFJ believes that better journalism leads to better lives. Over the past 30 years, ICFJ has worked with more than 92,000 professional and citizen journalists and media managers from 180 countries. ICFJ work through strong local partners, such as Code for Africa, and a network of dedicated alumni. For more information, go to www.icfj.org.