Tana FM

Tana FM prepares communities for El Nino

As the Kenyan Meteorological office warns coastal areas in Kenya of the high risk of flooding due to El Niño, newly founded HCR partner station Tana FM , is playing its part to get communities prepared.  Having gone on the air with the first test broadcasts only in May this year, Alex Stout and Jon Hargreaves from HCR UK were joined by new Kenyan team-member Sheila Maina, to train the Tana FM team on how to link with other emergency service providers and the community, to promote awareness and give critical information to help people survive in the event of flooding.   The people of Tana River have experienced floods in the past, but the mention of El Niño reflects back to 1997 when floods devastated the region and displaced tens of thousands of people. Officials are warning that as many as 70,000 people could be displaced by the rising waters in the next few weeks.

Tana FM's Shedrack Hiribae interviews Dr Badru Mohaji, Director of Special Programmes and Cohesion, about Tana River County's flood preparations, with support from HCR's Alex Stout.

Tana FM's Shedrack Hiribae interviews Dr Badru Mohaji, Director of Special Programmes and Cohesion, about Tana River County's flood preparations, with support from HCR's Alex Stout.

In its short existence, Tana FM, the first community station in Tana River County, has already become a trusted voice in the community.  The station's CEO, Shedrack Hiribae, says Tana FM has already begun to have a big impact.  Mr Hiribae described how the team's peace-building initiatives have promoted dialogue between conflicted communities and also how mango farmers have got a better deal for the sale of their produce as a result of the station's advocacy work.   

Tana FM producer Maureen talks to Peter Munyonki from the County's Disaster Response Team

Tana FM producer Maureen talks to Peter Munyonki from the County's Disaster Response Team

A new voice for peace in Eastern Kenya's troubled Tana River County

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.

 

The tranquil Tana River, Kenya's largest river, has often been the scene of violent conflict over many decades

The tranquil Tana River, Kenya's largest river, has often been the scene of violent conflict over many decades

Now there's a new voice in town, promoting peace and community cohesion.  With the help of equipment and training from HCR UK, Tana FM is now on the air broadcasting test messages from the capital Hola.  While they wait for the licensing authority to issue the licence, the community is seeking to demonstrate that it has not only the capability, but the passion to deliver a new message - one of hope and harmony.  The station is already attracting the attention of a number of key stakeholders, who believe it will make a difference.  Former MP and prominent anti-FGM campaigner Jebii Kilimo, believes the station will be a powerful tool for getting the message out to difficult-to-reach communities.

 

HCR is working with local and international partners to build local capacity and planning to extend the reach of the station, to ensure that coverage gets to the areas at greatest risk, often where  rumours and misinformation fuel tensions.  Shedrack Hiribae, CEO of Kenya Sustainable Health Aid (KESHA), who first had the vision for a radio station, believes this "new voice in town" will  fill a gap in getting reliable and objective information to the community as well as being a voice for the community.  "Tana FM will not only promote peace, it will help development and be a force for positive social change," he said.

Ancient weapons used in past conflicts are giving way to modern weaponry which come across borders from conflicts in neighbouring states, like Somalia, with devastating effect

Ancient weapons used in past conflicts are giving way to modern weaponry which come across borders from conflicts in neighbouring states, like Somalia, with devastating effect

Innovative Advocacy in Kenya

While HCR's partner in  Kenya works hard to obtain a community radio licence for the conflict-torn Tana River,  the team on the ground have been continuing the work we began in June by meeting community groups, lobbying local government and vociferously advocating to bring pressure for the release of a licence.  In a touch of amazing ingenuity, the Tana FM team were invited to have a stand to celebrate World Food Day (WFD) in the Tana River capital, Hola, recently.  

Improvised broadcasting to prove the value of radio to promote peace, health and social development in Tana River

Improvised broadcasting to prove the value of radio to promote peace, health and social development in Tana River

Using the content they made during the HCR workshop in June, they demonstrated how FM radio works through an improvised transmitter and antenna (above), going live on air.  People all around tuned their FM pocket radios and mobile phones to listen and contributed to the broadcasts.  The WFD organisers were so impressed that they said the Tana FM stand was the best in using technology to improve food security and invited them to participate in future county occasions with radio broadcasting.

We remain hopeful that the licence will soon be released so that work can begin on installing the equipment and HCR can continue training and building capacity on the ground.

A guest has his say at the Tana FM stand on World Food Day

A guest has his say at the Tana FM stand on World Food Day


Peace Building in Tana Delta, Kenya

The Tana Delta in Kenya has for decades been the scene of violent conflict between two ethnic groups, the dominant Ormo who are nomadic cattle-herders, and the Pokomo, who are farmers. This news article from last year, speaks of the violence which plagues this region.

This month Jon Hargreaves and Alex Stout (HCR UK) traveled to this violence-torn district, accompanied by a young journalist, Alex Williams, who reported on the HCR community workshops conducted. The video report provides a great insight into HCR’s involvement and the hope for a peace-building radio initiative which can help prevent violent attacks occurring in the future. View the video below:

A first consultation and workshop drew key stakeholders from local government and service providers, followed by a second which brought together members of the different tribal communities to work on plans for a community-centred radio station, which will tackle many of the region's problems.

Besides a peace agenda, the station will help promote better farming and irrigation practices, education and health as well as tackling difficult social issues such as witchcraft, female genital mutilation, early marriages, polygamy and segregation against women.

While the project will require foreign funding for the station set-up, it has a great chance of becoming completely locally sustainable within the first year. 

Stay tuned for further updates from Jon and Alex as they navigate their way through a very complex situation where tribe, religion, ethnicity, family and politics make a very potent and toxic brew that could flare up in violence at any time.  

Community members from Tana River County in Kenya are eager to be involved in a community-centred media strategy for peace-building and addressing social issues.

Community members from Tana River County in Kenya are eager to be involved in a community-centred media strategy for peace-building and addressing social issues.

Alex (left)) and Jon (right) working with local community members on a "mapping" activity to identify community needs.

Alex (left)) and Jon (right) working with local community members on a "mapping" activity to identify community needs.

Jon, Alex and Alex with community members from Tana Delta, Kenya.

Jon, Alex and Alex with community members from Tana Delta, Kenya.