Call for peacebuilding radio station ahead of Kenya's election

By Jon Hargreaves

With just over four months until Kenya goes to the polls amidst concerns that there will be election-related violence, HCR is exploring the feasibility of a new radio station in eastern Kenya's Tana Delta.   

Last year we partnered with the Sentinel Project to set up a peace centre in the town of Garsen. In this interview, John Green from Una Hakika describes how rumours and misinformation are often a key driver in the conflict between different groups and how a radio station could help build peace in the region. 

Since the nineteenth century, eastern Kenya's Tana River County has often been the scene of violent conflict, largely between two ethnic groups, the dominant Orma, who are nomadic cattle-herders and the Pokomo, who are farmers.   Many of the disputes have been over land use and access to water, however the intensity of these conflicts has increased in recent decades.  This has been fuelled by the easy access of weapons flooding across the nearby border with Somalia, growing poverty, the pressure caused by poorly managed resources and political interference.  Add to that toxic mix, the extremist group Al Shebab, which is trying to destabilise Kenya and Tana River County, is at risk of descending into violent conflict.

In June 2015, HCR, helped a Hola-based community organisation, Kenya Sustainable Health Aid to establish Tana FM which is now on the air supporting the peacebuilding process in the region in the run-up to August's critical election.

Got my confidence back!

On 26th February, Hazeen Latif, Director of HCR in Pakistan visited Charsadda to present a refresher course for a previous radio group who were trained in 2014. The meeting was held at the residence of Asad Ullah, an active community member and a certificate holder of the HCR Radio Skills Training Workshop.

The content of the refresher course covered the strengths and weaknesses of radio, types of microphone, how to use the microphone, and target the audience. The participants found the training valuable, and in the words of Asad Ullah, “this refresher course has helped me get my confidence back in using the microphone and availing myself of every opportunity as host of a program on my local FM station. Thanks so much to HCR for their follow up and support."

           Hazeen as he facilitates the refresher course

           Hazeen as he facilitates the refresher course

Disaster Response Radio TRAINING IN Pakistan

Photo courtesy of First Response Radio

Photo courtesy of First Response Radio

Following the Asia Tsunami and numerous earthquakes in Pakistan, radio broadcasters have come to see the need for a fast, disaster-response radio plan to assist in recovery from a disaster.  Based on these experiences, HCR worked with broadcasters to develop the programme now used by the First Response Radio Network (FRR) which includes training in the needed equipment, a programming system based on the listeners' need for critical information and a workshop to teach radio journalists, relief workers and government personnel how to put these into use in the field.  Since 2007 over 12 workshops have been held across the Philippines, India, Nepal and Indonesia.

In collaboration with First Response Radio, a 5-day workshop and 3-day field trial will be held in Pakistan from 21st to 29th March, 2017.   For more information to be a participant or observer, please contact hazeen@h-c-r.org.

To be heard...

By Annie Sarfraz

Over 40 people participated at a community meeting in the village of Swabi, KPK, Pakistan, organised by HCR in January 2017. The purpose was to help community understand they have the capacity to bring about positive change in their community. Most of the members said they had never attended a meeting where everyone was given an opportunity to introduce themselves. It was important for HCR to ensure participation from all groups of the community. In particular, youth are generally not encourage to be part of any decision making, something that is traditionally left up to the community Elders. However, this was the first time all age groups had come together to discuss community issues, and for many the first time they were heard.

A senior spokesperson from the community endorsed what was said by HCR's Hazeen Latif, "we have to unite and become an agent of change rather than an object to change". At the conclusion of the meeting, Hazeen was thanked by all, "we have never talked in front of so many people, thank you for giving us the opportunity"!

Rain can't stop us

By Annie Sarfraz

Community leader: “Sir, you could have cancelled the meeting and stayed home. It’s been raining for the last three days”.

Hazeen: “Rain can’t stop us”!

hazeen with water behind.jpg

HCR has been working in Charsadda village in Pakistan since 2013, using the communication for development approach to help people identify, understand and resolve their health and social development issues and challenges. Many successful community initiatives have come from this approach such as the medical camp, cricket tournament, well water project, and the microenterprise awareness campaign. These have helped the community realise the importance of social capital and the power of people to challenge and change the circumstances of life.

A meeting facilitated by Hazeen Latif was held at a primary school which did not have benches or chairs. Instead, members sat on jute cloth mats. Even with rain and extremely cold weather conditions, members of the community participated and gave their consent to form a Community Based Organisation (CBO). Hazeen asked the group “what do you want your children to become”? One of the members who is a tailor said,”I want my son to become a doctor not less than that”. A fish seller wants all his five children to become educated and never ever sell fish. HCR will continue to work with the group to identify issues and challenges faced by the community, and work with the community to develop ways to overcome these.