Tana River

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.

Carpet talk

Day 8 of #16DaysofActivism

 By Jon Hargreaves

“Gender inequality exists throughout Kenya, but it’s particularly bad in this part of the country,” says Harriet Atyang, the manager of HCR partner station Amani FM in Tana River.   In many situations Harriet says women are subjected to abuse and violence, but it is rarely reported, as it seen as a cultural norm. 

Recounting a story where one young girl was given by her parents to an old man, Harriet said, “A woman is often seen as a man’s property.  Many men see the role of women is purely to give birth and look after the home, but they don’t have a voice and are left out of decision-making.” 

It is for that reason that Amani FM has many programmes to promote change like “Jamvi la mwanamke jasiri”, or ‘Carpet Talk’. The idea is that the carpet is a place where people can sit and feel comfortable and confident to share their concerns.  By airing women’s stories, Amani FM is starting a community conversation and they find that men are engaging positively with the issue too.   With the help of other Non-Government Organisations and counselling services, the station is helping women to find help and making the community aware of their rights. 

“Judging by the number of calls we are getting to the programmes, we are having an effect.  Many are calling in and really opening up with their personal stories,” says Harriet. “It is going to take time, but however long it takes, we are going to keeping working with communities and other stakeholders to bring about the change that is needed.”

Harriet and Esther from Amani FM interview community members.

Harriet and Esther from Amani FM interview community members.

Stories Promote Peace in Eastern Kenya

By Jon Hargreaves

“I never realised how the Orma people came to be in this region of Kenya,” said a retired teacher from Tana River, “but since I started hearing their stories on the radio, I have begun to understand them better.”

The man, from a rival community, was responding to a series of cultural programmes he had heard on a new station set up by HCR and its partners, Amani (Peace) FM, in this conflict-affected region of eastern Kenya.  The programmes are made by Mole Hashako Yako, a community activist, teacher and social historian.  The Orma people of Tana River don’t have a written history, so Mole has been talking to elderly people in her community who have a rich knowledge about the past, and then telling their stories on the radio.

“Telling stories about our past, not only helps young people in the Orma community understand their roots and identity, but it also helps promote empathy and understanding between the communities,” she said.  “Once you hear someone else’s story, you humanise them and begin to understand them.”  Although there has been conflict particularly between the pastoralist Orma and agriculturalist Pokomo communities in recent years, Mole points to the past and to a time when the two communities lived side-by-side in peace and harmony.  She believes the past will help the communities connect with the future, where Tana River can be peaceful and prosperous.

Mole Hashako Yako: Telling stories promotes empathy and understanding between communities.

Mole Hashako Yako: Telling stories promotes empathy and understanding between communities.

Amani FM was established in August ahead of Kenya’s controversial elections in an effort to promote peace and build on and complement the work of Una Hakika which has been combatting rumours and misinformation since 2013.

John Green, the Director of Una Hakika, who is also chairman of the board of Amani FM, says that without a shadow of a doubt, Amani FM has contributed to peace at a time when there were many rumours circulating, which could have resulted in violence.  During focus groups conducted this week, among different communities, John says people appreciated how well Amani FM had advocated for peace and that how integrating the work of Una Hakika and the radio has produced a powerful model of using technology and relationships to foster peace and development.