JKUAT Students Win Top Awards at the Africa Statistics Day Hackathon

Prof. Waititu (center) pose a photo with the Data Crunchers team that scooped top honours during the Hackathon

Two teams from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology have won top awards at the just concluded Africa Statistics Day Hackathon.

The teams; Data Crunchers and Green Force that comprises of multidisciplinary students have emerged winners in the annual Hackathon challenge, held at the Strathmore University scooping first and second positions. The Hackathon event held from November 18-December 18, 2021, was organized by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) in conjunction with its partners, Office for National Statistics-(ONS) UK, Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD) and Strathmore University’s @iLabAfrica to encourage better use of the official statistics that KNBS produces.

The Hackathon challenge christened Promoting Data Use- Exploring possibilities of joining up official and non-official data sources for decision making was organized in commemoration of the annual African Statistics Day to increase public awareness about the important role statistics play in social and economic life. The event aimed at generating policy and project proposals that can be utilized to ensure effective data management and analysis.

Speaking at an interview, Data Crunchers team leader, Evans Kahacho, a Second year Maths and Applied Statistics student was ecstatic with the JKUAT teams scooping top honors saying the event provided a platform for students to showcase and sharpen their skills especially in handling data.

“This was a good opportunity for us to undertake a more in-depth analysis of data which will provide a better evidence base,” he retorted.

He emphasized the importance of providing data in a simplified manner to the masses to ensure they are able to understand and utilize it effectively noting that the event had also been an important avenue for data analysts to interact and exchange ideas thus allowing for learning and sharing of expertise.

Kahacho said they hope to work hand in hand with KNBS to ensure they create a spotlight on data, especially the latest official data, and to encourage a cross range of users to use data in addressing specific societal issues and challenges.

The Data Crunchers who emerged top with their proposal on Data-driven Decisions for Health Resource Allocation in Kenya aimed to use data-driven decisions for allocation of health resources.

According to Green Force team leader, Lena Onyango, an Applied Statistics Masters student, the Hackathon was a welcome challenge to the participants saying JKUAT teams stood out as they show-cased their innovation knack in providing viable up to date solutions.

The Green Force team who were runners up in the competition through their proposal harnessing the power of data for a sustainable climate smart agriculture, aimed to tackle the reliance on rain water for farming practices. According to Lena, the teams’ proposal is crucial in addressing the issue of water shortage, especially in hardship areas.

On JKUAT emerging tops in the Hackathon, the Chairman, Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science, Prof. Anthony Gichuhi lauded the two teams for their hard work and exemplary performance. He urged them to continue practicing their craft.

 He also revealed that the students who had shown exemplary performance in the new short courses offered in the department were picked to represent the University.

Green Force team scooped runners up position

“The department has very good and experienced lecturers in the data science department who ensure the University churns out quality students,” Prof. Waititu asserted.

Data Crunchers team members included; Elvis Marube, Anne Muthoni, Huxley Adonya and Steven Wainaina, while Green Force team included; Samuel Wanjiru, Festus Malombe, Lorraine Eyinda and Jeremiah Maina.

Dr. Boniface Malenje and Ms. Leah Njuguna both from the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science were also instrumental in preparing the students for the Hackathon event.

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