Student innovators create App to keep Youth well Informed

Student innovators create App to keep Youth well Informed

The mobile application, RADA , developed by UoN students creates  a safe space for students to share, seek counseling, get professional information on sexually transmitted Infections and diseases, report and seek help while in an emergency and/or abusive situation, get career tips and discussion forums for the issues that the students are facing.


 “Of all the new HIV infections, 40% is attributable to the young people this means that there's a lot of casual relationships going on. The current mental health related homicides and suicides have been reported from all universities. On employability, students are getting depressed that there are no jobs after they complete their studies,” remarked Lisbeth Kageni, Programme coordinator, Centre for HIV prevention and research (CHIVPR) at the college of Health Sciences.


When you hit 18, you find yourself suddenly declared an adult. All the things that had been prohibited – sex, alcohol, going out on binges – are now not as restricted, especially if you are in a higher learning institution, and living away from home.

But then again, consequences are as sudden. Think of pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, jail, and even death, especially in this era of sponsor and Ben 10 manenos.


What to do?

A group of students at the University of Nairobi (UON) grappled with this dilemma, and while they acknowledge today you can get any information online, they admit that most of them swim in a sea of confusion on matters adulthood. Thus, they came together and developed an application, packed with information helpful to youths like them anywhere in the world.


They were lucky to have the blessings of the university, led by Prof Walter Jaoko, who is the Deputy director of clinical research, Kenya Aids Vaccine Initiative (KAVI Institute) and also the chairman, department of medical microbiology at the UON. They dubbed the App Rada, alluding to the popular street term ‘kaa rada’ (always be ready or vigilant) and also the word radar, which means a sensor or a locator.


This is exactly what the mobile app is all about.


Based on a preliminary study on the major issues that university students face on campus, UON found out even though most of them are well exposed, they lack handy, basic information on salient issues like sexuality, drug abuse and personal safety. The university gathered 16 students, not necessarily with a tech background, and they joined experts in developing the content and then got to coding.


The Rada App has information ranging from sexual and reproductive health to alcohol and drug abuse, mental and general health.The information is basic, simple and accompanied by a short video. It defines terms and guides you on what to do, and on preventive measures.

The app does not shy away from information that might appear controversial, such as abortions and contraception, but it guides you on best practices. For instance, when you click on abortions, the App responds by warning you that abortion is illegal in Kenya, and then gives you a link to the Constitution and the particular clause governing the issue.


Events on campus


Perhaps one of the most important features of the App is that students seeking one-on-one information say on HIV can do so with a university counsellor anonymously through a live chat.

The App also gives info about events happening on campus, guides students on their personal safety by identifying crime black spots and where to find help.For the various types of content, the students sat down with experts in each particular field. For instance, on health, the ministry was at hand, while the National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse helped in designing content on alcohol and drug abuse.Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Alliance was at hand on related issues.


UNESCO provided the technical know-how.


Julius Kibagendi, 3rd year, Bachelor of Arts, Political Science,” I have an IT background; I was among the content developers in this project. I learnt a lot from the training and guidance given by the stakeholders. I also learnt a lot from my friends. I would like for most of the students to know about the app coz of its benefits.”


Lisbeth Kageni, Programme Coordinator, (CHIVPR) said, the University approached UNESCO with a proposal on a solution of how to improve the students’ livelihood in the University. UNESCO did a one day workshop to establish the concerns and proposed a mobile app as an innovative way of mitigating the challenges. They also proposed working with students from all courses. They have trained and supported the students throughout the project.

Ministry of Health, Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights Alliance (SRHRA), NACADA, Jhpiego, KANCO and Fountain of Hope also partnered with the University on this project.


The app has emergency numbers/ hotline feature, a feature that helps a student locate the nearest ambulance and  a hall’s officer.