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Community Media Forum

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In the recent weeks, albeit months, the country has witnessed a record number of serious corruption related scandals in the country. In nearly all the news channels, corruption has been the major theme. The proceedings, blame games and mysteries reported about corruption have become a norm of what is todays’ Kenyan media coverage. If Kenyans are not angry by now, probably they will never be.

Citizens are critical allies in the fight against corruption. At the heart of communities in Nairobi, lies avenues for citizens to access information that is simple, relevant and beneficial to them.  As a watchdog, the media plays an important role in ensuring that the country’s resources are well utilised.  Community media streams in particular, has an important role in educating their audience about national agendas that affect them. Among these, is the runaway corruption. It is encouraging how the media has sustained the campaign on corruption by consistently highlighting corruption scandals in the country. However, we can do more.

Action for Transparency team held a media forum on 28th June 2018 with journalists and members of community media organisations in Nairobi to discuss and share experiences on how community media can amplify community voices in the fight against corruption in Kenya.

Discussion

  • How can the community media keep the anti-corruption campaign alive?
  • How can we help communities participate in this discourse?
  • What is the role of community media towards amplifying community voices?
  • How can community media break down effects of corruption to the general public?
  • What are the ways in which journalists can represent community voices/interests? (Public Interest

The forum was attended by 32 participants. The panelists included: Tom Mboya – Koch FM, Alex Ikambi – Kenya Community Media Network (KCOMNET), Kevin Mabonga – TI-Kenya and Abraham Mariita as the moderator.

Amongst the issues raised was that community media should break down the cost of corruption to what is easily relatable or understood by their audience. Tom Mboya agreed with Kevin Mabonga that journalists should breakdown the cost of corruption by equating equivalence of the money lost, vis-a-vis what it could do for the citizen.

Community media should also utilise their intimate relationship with their audience in order to cultivate feedback in regards to expressing their views about transparency and accountability issues.

 

Alex Ikambi asked the participants to ensure that they go down to the community and find out if a reported issue of corruption has been resolved.

Some journalists present, asked for capacity building opportunities for journalists in community media in order to enable them tackle the issues of corruption better. In addition, it was suggested that TI-Kenya and other organisations should partner with the community media to organise public forums.

Michael from Mtaani radio asked participants from other community radios to think of other avenues that can help amplify community voices in unison, like coming up with a newspaper to publish stories.

Notably, two community radio stations have been on the forefront in empowering their audience to fight corruption. Koch Fm held a Community Accountability Forum, that brought together members of Korogocho area, community and political leaders in order to keep an account of the developmental aspects of that area. On the other hand, Ghetto FM has stated a project called Follow The Money in partnership with a Nigerian organisation, to educate and empower their audience to track expenditure of public funds.

The engagements with community media will be on-going, including participating together in forums and fostering synergies that will help empower citizens across the County.

View more photos of this event here.

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AccountabilityActivitiesEducationHealthTechnology

Unearthing the sanitation crisis within Nairobi’s public schools

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A4T grantee Sarah Nanjala reveals critical sanitation crisis in Nairobi’s public primary Schools. Sarah is one of the journalists trained in investigative and data journalism at the United States International University (USIU) and later  got an A4T grant and mentorship award.

The bell rings. Break time is over. A Standard Three girl carefully, but quickly, makes her way through the flooded entrance to a toilet. At least 50 other girls are with her.

The girls squeeze into the few toilets, with the older ones jostling the younger ones out of the way. They then wrinkle their noses in disgust and walk away. This is the everyday life of pupils in Nairobi public schRead Sarah’s report published on today’s Star Newspaper here.

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#STOPtheseThieves – Demo against Corruption

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In recent days, the media informed by audit reports uncovered cases of blatant corruption within government departments and agencies including the National Youth Service where up to Kshs. 9 Billion is reported to have been illegally paid out to fictitious suppliers; the National Cereals and Produce Board paid huge sums of money to suppliers not accredited; Reports from the Office of the Auditor General indicating mismanagement of public funds within various government departments including the Health and Education departments.

Transparency International Kenya through Actin for Transparency in partnership with Kenya Human Rights Commission, Buyer Beware and other organisations planned a demonstration against the blatant runaway corruption in government to raise the voice of citizens in demanding for action.

The demonstration was dubbed #STOPtheseThieves and was held on 31st of May 2018, at the Uhuru Park grounds, with a demonstration through Kenyatta Avenue, Kimathi Street, Moi avenue, City Hall way, Parliament road and to Haile Selassie rd.

The demo attracted participants in hundreds, who were involved in displaying placards that displayed different messages in detest of the recent corruption scandals and inept by government authorities to take any action. Protestors walked, danced, sang and others chose to scream, while cameras from local and international journalists clicked away in the over 3 hours activity. Organisations represented gave speeches periodically and made calls to other onlookers to participate in the picketing. A petition was read when the crowd arrived at the judiciary, asking the courts to ensure prosecution of the corruption suspects, with hefty fines and punishment.

When TI-Kenya organised an inaugural Integrity Walk in December 2017, a contingent of policemen armed with clubs, tear gas canisters and guns, surrounded the Freedom Corner Park (start venue) with an order to stop us from proceeding with the walk. It was shock and awe, that a peaceful walk, a symbol of citizens stand on accountability and transparency issues, was invaded and stopped with such impunity. A year earlier, a demo against the loss of 5 billion shillings at the Ministry of health, was thwarted with violence and brutality to the participants and without any mercy to the journalists covering it.
It was therefore a great achievement to have had many participants in this peaceful demo with escort from policemen. Perhaps an indication that the police and their authorities are appreciating the right of citizens according to the constitution of Kenya, Chapter 3 Article 37, to peacefully and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to demonstrate petitions to public authority.

During the celebration and commemoration of the Madaraka (Independence) day on June 1 2018, president Uhuru Kenyatta gave a rather tough and firm statement about non-tolerance to corruption in his government. He declared that corruption in all its forms will be diminished from our country, adding that his governments’ raft of measures to tackle corruption, include an initial step for all Heads of Procurement and Accounts in Government Ministries, Departments, Agencies and Parastatals to undergo fresh vetting, including polygraph testing, to determine their integrity and suitability by beginning of July 2018 and those who shall fail the vetting will stand suspended. Unlike his previous speeches, during previous national events – where he once asked Kenyans, “Mnataka nifanye nini?” (What do you want me to do?) – president Uhuru had never talked this tough on fighting corruption. We hope that this will translate to action.

So far, over 40 suspects have been arraigned in court and held without bail, with more expected to be charged according to the Directorate of the Criminal Investigations.  The recovery of assets from those accused of corruption must also be given priority. See more photos here.

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AccountabilityActivitiesEducationHealthTechnology

Media Forum on Access to Information Act

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We recently organised a Media Forum to discuss how the Access to Information Act can benefit journalists and citizens. The forum that was held at a local hotel, was attended by 29 journalists who participated in discussing Freedom of expression, where the media is grounded, as an important aspect for journalists to be involved in.

The panelists who led the great discussion included:

  • Erick Mugendi – Managing Editor PesaCheck, an initiative of code for Africa/ Builds tools for citizens to help citizens track budgets. Try to connect the big numbers with the people.
  • Christine Nguku – Vice Chairperson Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK), Secretary Kenya Editors Guild.
  • Winnie Tallam – Senior Legal Officer – Commission on Administrative Justice (CAJ) The body that is also mandated to ensure implementation of the Access to Information law.
  • Sheila Masinde – Programmes Manager Transparency International Kenya.
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A4T Twitterthon at Kenyatta University Parklands Campus

Kenyatta University Twitterthon

We recently held a Twitterthon on 18th April 2018, at Kenyatta University, Parklands Campus, in partnership with Kenyatta University Students Association – thank you guys!

The exciting and informative 2 hours at the KU campus hall was aimed at involving the youth in the fight against corruption and creating awareness among them on issues of accountability within the Education and Health Sectors.

Thanks to the students who were present, over 2,500! tweets were posted about the A4T App, its features, usability and usefulness in advancing transparency and tracking budgetary expenditure and to report corruption through the App.

View more photos here.
You can download the App on Google Play Store and on Apple App Store.

 

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Action For Transparency Media Training – CLOSED

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Exciting opportunity for journalists aspiring to gain skills investigative and data journalism.

A 3 month Grant and mentorship program will be offered for the 10 best journalists after the training

Transparency International Kenya (TI-Kenya) through the Action for Transparency(A4T) Project has partnered with USIU-Africa, to conduct training for journalists in Nairobi. The training aims to empower journalists with skills to investigate cases of suspected corruption or mismanagement of public funds and analyse financial/budgetary information to reveal gaps affecting the health and education sectors.
Journalists will undergo training from 28th to 30th November 2017 at United States International University (USIU-Africa), in Nairobi.

TI-Kenya in partnership with Swedish based Fojo Media Institute, is implementing the Nairobi based A4T project that uses technology, aided by an empowered citizenry, to strengthen democratic accountability and transparency in Kenya through citizen monitoring of government expenditure.

Journalists wishing to take part in this training (free of charge) should Apply Here, by providing all required information and a story idea that they wish to pursue.

10 best investigative ideas will be awarded grants and mentorship for 3 months after the training.

Deadline for application is 11:59pm, 17th November 2017.

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AccountabilityEducationHealthTechnology

Internet for Social Change

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For people to benefit from the Internet, it must be not only available and affordable. It also must be relevant to their lives and they must have the skills and confidence to use it” The Economist.

According to the Inclusive Internet Mapping Progress 2017 done by The Economist Intelligence Unit, Kenya ranks 51 out of 75 countries, supported by a strong Relevance score. The indexing commissioned by internet giant Facebook, is assessing internet exclusivity across four pillars of Connectivity, Availability, Affordability, Relevance, readiness and an analysis of policy, culture and gender gaps. Kenya outperforms most African countries with a rank of 7th out of 26, but it falls behind many other lower-middle-income nations (16th out of 24).

Graphic display of Kenya’s ranking: Source the Economist

It is rousing that Kenya has been featured in this study, despite the low score. The relevance of this to us is not so that we can compare our performance with our East African neighbors, but it should make us feel ashamed and find ways of improving. We must concur that there are few studies done about the state of internet connectivity and other aspects, in order to identify and address the gaps so as to achieve an inclusive internet in Kenya. Notably, such studies help inform numerous interventions led by non-state actors that rely on the state of internet connectivity to implement part or in whole projects in uplifting the lives of Kenyans.

Such a project is the one being implemented by PAWA 254 in collaboration with Transparency International Kenya, called Action for Transparency. Action for transparency, or abbreviated as A4T, is an ambitious project that seeks to empower citizens and civil servants to act on corruption experienced in their daily lives. The A4T project partly has developed a set of secure tools like a mobile phone App, where an individual using a mobile phone with Internet access, is able to check the amount of government money given to a public primary school or health center and the amount actually spent by the institution. The App provides the capability of reporting anonymously, an institution or individuals who are involved in corruption.

 

A4T mobile App in use: Source Pawa254

To be able to achieve this development, the A4T project relied on a baseline survey that aimed at collecting data that would help inform the design and implementation of the project. In the survey, media was named by the respondents in Embakasi as the main source of information about corruption. This coupled with the high access to mobile phones specifically smart phones means the citizens of Embakasi have great opportunity to access information on governance and accountability through  media and Information Communication Technology. The project which was designed by Swedish based Fojo Media Institute with funding from The Swedish Embassy, has also been implemented in Uganda and Zambia.

Inevitably, no such project like A4T, that aims to address a social concern for Kenyans especially those living below the poverty line, can be implemented without massive investment into surveys for data collection. The internet sphere is fast changing, there is no singularity of data explaining the reach access and use of internet. Nevertheless, it is with deep research that we are able to reveal the challenges affecting optimal use of this technology, principally for positive social change. We do require, consistent, accessible and segmented data, that could help inform social change interventions.

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) have been playing a pivotal role in carrying out quarterly sector statistics for the communication industry. To this extent, there is relevant data on the use of mobile phones, internet subscriptions among other things. Growth and drops in internet use is captured in these reports, but there is little data/information about users and the use of these internet services. Making it tasking for players who would want to understand such statistics and put them in a different use, other than for commercial purposes, as you would be purported to think of the CAK statistics.

While major multinationals are concentrating on providing access to cheap internet (mainly for profit), there are other players represented by local grassroots organizations, Non-governmental and civil society movements (Like PAWA254 & TI-Kenya) that need data for knowledge and learning of the availability, affordability and ability of everyday use of the internet and other technologies, in order to design and implement projects that are relevant to their communities, for positive social change. Governments therefore need not just to be seen to be working to enhance information for wealthy private sector, but also to enable the non-state actors deliver appropriate services to help improve the lives of citizens.

 

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