Kenya

Stations collaborate to end violent extremism

By Jon Hargreaves

HCR partner station Amani FM in eastern Kenya’s Tana River County, has joined forces with another community station to promote peace in this conflict-affected region.  The project “Amani Mashinani,” which in Swahili means peace at the grassroots, involves young people in the design and creation of feature stories and talk-shows that promote peace, using the airwaves of Amani FM in Garsen and TBS (Tana Broadcasting Service), in Hola.   Besides creative radio content, many on-the-ground activities involving youth are being planned around the district to encourage awareness of how conflict happens and how it can be resolved.

The initiative follows concerns that terrorist groups such as Al-Shabab have been trying to recruit vulnerable, unemployed young people in the eastern areas of the country, near the border with Somalia.

HCR Associate Kelvin Nyangweso, one of the architects of the project, says the radio stations are operated by young volunteers who come from different communities in Tana River and who have a good understanding of the dynamics and needs of their own people. 

“The radio stations will provide the youth with a platform to engage in planning and producing media content through a collective, participatory approach,” says Kelvin. 

Besides training the young citizen journalists in the techniques of “peace journalism” and communication that counters violence,  youth leaders in the county will also undergo training to help them prevent and respond to issues that threaten to destabilise their communities. 

Amani FM was established by HCR in July 2017 ahead of Kenya’s controversial elections, in an effort to promote peace and complement the work of Una Hakika which was set up to combat rumours, misinformation and fake news, the key drivers of conflict in Tana River County.

Volunteer journalists at Amani FM receiving training in peacebuilding and conflict transformation

Volunteer journalists at Amani FM receiving training in peacebuilding and conflict transformation

Teen Pregnancy Campaign Jams Call-in Lines

By Jon Hargreaves

After only one month, the ‘Kickout Teenage Pregnancy” campaign (Piga teke mimba za mapema in Swahili) by HCR partner-station Amani FM in eastern Kenya, has been so successful, the call-in lines are jammed.  The team has been hosting talk shows, call-in programmes and getting out and about in the schools of Tana River County, to promote awareness of underage pregnancy. As Station Manager, Harriet Atyang explains, “We’ve been encouraging girls to follow their dreams and be aware of grooming by predatory men. Tana River County is among the four worst hit counties with this menace and is one of the major reasons it performs so poorly in the national exams,” she added

The station receives more than 300 phone calls per day and more than 200 sms text messages.  “In fact our call lines are getting so congested we are trying to get a third line and another phone to help ease the congestion,” says Harriet.

The station is using the Una Hakika SMS text reporting system, where listeners are given a short code which enables them to seek counselling or report any incidents where they feel threatened or at risk.

Harriet says the campaign is the talk of town and that the response has been overwhelming, hoping it will result in significant change in the community.

HCR is working across Africa and Asia, supporting communities in crisis, through community centred-media. For more information contact hcruk@h-c-r.org

Using Technology to Tackle Teen Pregnancies

By Jon Hargreaves

 HCR partner station Amani FM in eastern Kenya’s Tana River, has launched a major campaign to tackle underage pregnancy.  According to Station Manager, Harriet Atyang, “Tana River County is among the four worst hit counties with this menace and is one of the major reasons it performs so poorly in the national exams.”

 Over the next three months Amani FM will be promoting awareness of underage pregnancy through discussion programmes, road shows, street theatre and visiting schools across the region.  In addition to this, the station is teaming up with Una Hakika to use technology to protect vulnerable children.  Using Una Hakika’s SMS text reporting system, listeners will be given a short code, which they will be able to use free-of-charge, to report any incidents where they feel threatened or at risk.

“Every text will be followed up and in the case of a rescue being required, we will involve the police,” says Harriet.  “I have spoken to the OCS of the area and he is ready to offer us all the support we need.”

HCR set up Amani FM in partnership with the Sentinel Project to promote peace and social development ahead of the elections in 2017 and an evaluation last year showed it had had a significant impact on promoting dialogue between different ethnic groups.

For more information contact hcruk@h-c-r.org

Harriet Atyang and Esther Dalano interview a community member during an Amani FM Road Show

Harriet Atyang and Esther Dalano interview a community member during an Amani FM Road Show

Let's start a business, to alleviate poverty

“Tuanze Biashara” is Swahili for “Let's Start a Business”, a poverty alleviation project integrating a community radio station, social media, training workshops and a savings and loan association. See how this innovative micro-enterprise project is lifting people in eastern Kenya’s Tana River County out of poverty.

"Even I Can Start a Business!"

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By Jon Hargreaves

I’d like to introduce you to Flora and Hadiya, two budding Kenyan entrepreneurs who really mean business. In the absence of finding jobs and struggling to make ends meet, these two delightful ladies never thought they’d be able to start a business. That was until HCR in collaboration with Aid For Trade launched the Tuanze Biashara (Let’s Start a Business) project, in an area of eastern Kenya’s Tana River County, where poverty is widespread.  Using the newly established radio station, Amani FM, the project involves an innovative mix of radio programmes, live ‘phone-in discussions, community interaction via WhatsApp and workshops, to encourage local people, irrespective of their education, to develop their business ideas and then put them into action. 

“I once tried setting up a juice business,” said Flora, “But I failed and lost all my money. Then I started attending the workshops run by Amani FM and the trainer, Mr Amara, equipped us with the tools to be successful. He taught us first to find out what people wanted and then see what we could do to meet that need. So I began selling porridge. At first I didn’t quite get the taste right, but after a few experiments, I quickly began selling out of porridge and having to make more batches. I now can’t keep up with the demand so am taking on a partner and borrowing money to buy a bigger stove and new pots. My new business puts food on my table, pays my rent and helps me buy clothes. One day I hope to have a chain of restaurants throughout Tana River County.”

Hadiya noticed that in one remote area of Tana Delta, the boda boda (motorbike taxi) drivers had to drive a long way to get fuel. So she started a small business selling petrol in discarded 2 litre plastic bottles. “I have been so successful,” says Hadiya, “That my mother is now selling the fuel full-time and I am launching a clothes line for ladies in the village. Having spoken to so many people I know exactly what they want and where i can get the fabric. The training has really showed me that even I CAN start a business.”

‘Table Banking’ has enabled community members to save and access capital

‘Table Banking’ has enabled community members to save and access capital

TABLE BANKING

At the end of the workshops a budding group of entrepreneurs were inspired to set up a community savings and loan association, known locally as Table Banking. “Every week this group meets to pool their savings, while one or two people are able to take a loan, which has to be paid back at 10%,” said Philip Amara, the YES project trainer. “As a result of this, we have seen new businesses launched as well as existing businesses able to make improvements.”

Philip says it is very difficult for most Kenyan citizens to access capital from banks, as the interest rates are very high and few people have any collateral. “It is for that reason that we have partnered with HCR to make larger sums available, offering much better interest rates than the bank,” said Philip. He added that the best business ideas with the best plans, will be rewarded, both with a loan and free advertising on the radio station, as Amani FM follows their progress. Philip believes that through the radio, the community will learn what ordinary people can do and begin to believe that they too can start a business. “We want to end this mindset of poverty and dependency,” he said.