HCR and Canadian-based Sentinel Project for Genocide Prevention, are about to set up a "Peace Centre" in the conflicted east Kenyan region of Tana Delta. The centre will be established in the town of Garsen and will serve as a hub to analyse misinformation and rumours, as well as disseminate reliable information and messages that promote peace through HCR partner station Tana FM. Kenya’s eastern Tana River County has frequently been affected by violent conflict between different ethnic groups, with rumours and misinformation among the key drivers of the conflict.
In April, HCR specialists joined Tana FM producers in training a team of citizen journalists from Sentinel's Una Hakika project in how to create radio programme content that builds peace. Una Hakika project coordinator John Green praised the new venture saying: “People make decisions based on information, so when they receive information that is verified and from a neutral source that has no ethnic bias, it is a milestone in the peace process”
Sentinel's Executive Director, Christopher Tuckwood said that when the Una Hakika information service was set up two years ago, his team were deeply impacted by the interethnic massacres in late 2012 and early 2013 and how rumours had contributed to the atmosphere of fear, distrust and hatred that fuelled the conflict.
Una Hakika's expertise in gathering, verifying and countering the flow of misinformation will add a powerful dimension to Tana FM's broadcasts as together the teams seek to put an end to conflict in this often divided region.
HCR's Jon Hargreaves described the establishment of this new partnership as coming at a very strategic time, as Kenyan's prepare to go to the polls in August 2017. "Elections in Kenya have often been associated with violence," said Jon, "and even this week we saw a bloody crackdown on protests in Nairobi, following demonstrations against the country's electoral commission. We want to do all we can to ensure that elections in Tana River County pass peacefully and that citizens of the county are fully aware of their rights and responsibilities."