Most Recent Knowledge Shared from the Network

May 25, 2016

Using radio to tackle stigma and pain

Author: BBC Media Action's Alice Mbelwa, May 25 2014 - Heavily pregnant, experiencing difficulties and far from any medical professionals, Adelina, a farmer from Kobunshwi in north-west Tanzania,...

May 25, 2016

The 'othering' of development and SDGs

Author: Ranjani K. Murthy, May 25 2016 - Development discourse has often about paid attention to problems of developing countries, and till recently the analysis was largely done by those in...

May 25, 2016

Need to address the trauma from sexual abuse critical

Author: PSAf Executive Director Lilian Kiefer, May 25 2016 - In many parts of our society, children in general and particularly girls are exposed to numerous vices that limit their opportunity to...

May 19, 2016

Gambo, the radio show superfan

Author: Haruna Kakangi, May 19 2016 - On a Thursday morning in the ancient town of Bauchi in north-east Nigeria, I’m sitting with a group of 10 men and seven women by the side of a road in a quiet...

May 19, 2016

A brush with Somalia's people smugglers

Author: Mohammed A. Gaas, May 18 2016 - I came home from work to find my wife, visibly worried, standing at the gate. She had news about my teenage nephew. "Abdirisaq hasn't come home yet. Something...

May 5, 2016

Developing the talent of Somali journalists

Author: BBC Media Action's Abdillahi Jama, May 5 2016 - As a Somali journalist, I’ve seen a lot. As the 1991 civil war erupted in Mogadishu, bombs and bullets interrupted my journalism studies....

May 5, 2016

A life-changing TV show

Author: BBC Media Action's Bidhya Chapagain, May 5 2016 - I had first met Ujeli on a chilly morning outside a temporary shelter on top of a hill in Selang, Sindhupalchowk, just northeast of Nepal’s...

May 4, 2016

Data for Decision-Making: Empowering Local Data Use

Authors: Lora Shimp, Technical Director, with Heather Randall, Program Coordinator, GAVI-NVI Project, May 4 2016 - As we celebrate World Immunization Week [April 25], it's important to remember that...

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Strengthening Community and Health Systems for Quality PMTCT: Applications in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Ethiopia

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Publication Date
May 1, 2013


This 12-page report by Pathfinder discusses experiences as well as recommendations based on programmes for prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV. According to the report, barriers to implementing programmes for PMTCT in resource-limited settings fall into common biomedical, behavioral, and structural categories.


Pathfinder website on July 7 2013.

The World Has Malaria

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Launched in 2011, The World Has Malaria is a 20-minute documentary-drama designed to explain the causes of climate change, as well as present some adaptation options and future strategies for pastoralist communities in Tanzania. The documentary was developed by Resource Africa UK, in collaboration with the Tanzania Natural Resources Forum (TNRF) and Ujamaa Community Resources Team (UCRT), based on photo-stories developed with local communities.

Communication Strategies: 

The community-led film uses interviews, drama scenes, and animation to showcase climate change experiences by communities in northern Tanzania. The film focuses on Maasai communities in Tanzania and Kenya, and is produced in the Maa language, with English subtitles. A Swahili edit is under production for broader national and international distribution.

In preparation for the production of the film, Resource Africa UK facilitated pastoralist and hunter-gatherer communities in two Tanzanian districts to present their livelihoods, climate change vulnerabilities, and adaptive strategies through photo-stories. Organisers say the photo-stories were instrumental in realising the communities' climate change vulnerabilities and in establishing livelihood assessments that were later used in developing the participatory script for the educational film.

The film will be screened in rural communities along with facilitated discussions on livelihood challenges, how to link these to climate change, and what future adaptation possibilities exist.

Click here to watch the documentary on the Resource Africa UK website.

Click here to view and download three of the photostories.

Development Issues: 

Climate Change, Environment

Key Points: 

Resource Africa UK is a United Kingdom-based charity organisation involved in supporting rural livelihoods and improved local governance based on sustainable use of natural resources in Africa. This project is one of a series of interventions under their Climate Conscious Programme that focuses on community-based climate change adaptation.


Resource Africa UK website on August 14 2011.

The Last Man Standing - Puppet Show

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Launched in 2010, The Last Man Standing is a puppetry performance produced by the Kenya Institute of Puppet Theatre that advocates for conservation and participatory management of the Greater Mara ecosystem that supports the wildebeest and other wildlife species in Kenya. The performance is designed to raise awareness and inspire community-based mobilisation around climate change and protecting the environment.

Communication Strategies: 

The Last Man Standing is a tale of a brave wildebeest called Mara. The story is told in 2070 by Bones (a carcass of Mare) and a letter written by the Mask in 2010 warning of the pending danger of climate change that has wiped out the wildebeest. In a performance combining puppets, objects, figures, architecture, and installation, Mara goes through the most trying moments in her life. Told from the perspectives of the living and dead worlds, the story is full of unbelievable events, struggle, bravery, feast, famine, life and death.

The process of developing the performance included several stages, such as conceptualisation, puppet construction, integration, rehearsals, and fusing the artistic elements. The performance premiered at the International Student Puppet Festival in London, where the live show was followed by a video and Skype conversation between producers and the audience.

Following the premier, The Last Man Standing is touring East Africa before embarking for festivals tour in Europe and Asia. According to the producers, the goal is to both raise awareness of environmental issues, while at the same time improving the level of professionalism in the practice of puppet theatre and holistically developing puppetry as an art form, merging and integrating it with other art forms like dance, objects, mime, drumming, etc.

Development Issues: 

Environment, Climate Change

Key Points: 

According to the organisers, the performance is in line with attaining several of the Millennium development Goals (MDGS). These are: MDG 1 - poverty reduction through income generation by local communities through conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity resources; MDG3 - gender empowerment through involvement of women in conservation and associated incomes through management and sustainable use of biodiversity and natural resource use; and MDG 7 - through the enhancement of integration of environment, natural resources, and biodiversity into sustainable development.

Partner Text: 

Kenya Institute of Puppet Theatre


Email from Phylemon Odhiambo Okoth on December 22, 2010, and the "Last Man Standing" PDF document on January 24 2011.

The Regional Livelihoods Advocacy Project (REGLAP)

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Launched in October 2009, The Regional Livelihoods Advocacy Project (REGLAP) is a Humanitarian Aid Department of the European Commission (ECHO) funded project working to reduce the vulnerability of pastoral communities by bringing about changes in policy and practice in the Horn and East Africa. The goal of the project is to raise awareness among planners and policy makers about the full potential of pastoral systems to make a significant contribution to the economies of the region.

Communication Strategies: 

The first phase of the project focused on building evidence around five thematic areas and establishing a policy and practices baseline. As part of this phase, the project produced a number of documents for the media including a handbook for journalists and a media summary of pastoralism. The journalists’ handbook is designed to help journalists appreciate the success of pastoralism and understand how it works. The media summary was produced to highlight the negative bias of coverage which tends to portray pastoralists as war-like, hungry, backward, and aid-dependent.

Click here to download "Get To Know Pastoralism - It Works!: A handbook for journalists".
Click here to download "Pastoralists Get a Bad Press: Why?".

Other studies and papers written during this phase included a review of laws and policies in the Horn and East Africa; a paper on pastoralism and climate change; a paper on demographic trends, settlement patterns, and service provision in pastoralism; a paper on social protection and preparedness planning; and a paper on mobile pastoral systems and international zoosanitary standards. Each of the reports is intended to present evidence-based research findings to overcome misconceptions and misunderstandings regarding particular aspects of pastoral livelihoods, and highlight appropriate policy recommendations that favour pastoralist systems. The reports also present evidence to help inform thinking in order that policymakers can keep abreast of new opportunities and threats in the rangelands. Click here to access these papers in PDF format (under REGLAP papers).

The second phase of the project ran for 12 months from July 2009 - June 2010. This part of the project undertook to influence governments, donors, and regional bodies on the need to apply a holistic approach to addressing pastoral vulnerability. Organisers say drought risk reduction offers an opportunity to do this. Phase two audiences included governments of Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda, regional governmental bodies, and also policy influencers and decision-makers among international donors, United Nations agencies, non-governmental organisations, and media. This phase of the project was designed to create an advocacy space that would promote necessary policy and practice change. To achieve its objectives, the project tackled the common misconceptions that prevent swifter and more appropriate action, and enhanced understanding on issues of climate change and population expansion as global challenges that policy-makers must act quickly to address. Key activities included knowledge and good practice gathering; policy dialogue; promoting policy and practice change; and building civil society capacity for advocacy related to pastoral livelihoods.

Development Issues: 

Natural Resource Management, Economic Development, Climate Change, Pastoralism

Key Points: 

Pastoral communities in the Horn and East Africa have adapted over the ages to thrive in some of the harshest conditions – hot and dry regions with low and erratic rainfall. Today pastoralism makes a significant contribution to the GDP of many Horn and East African countries, and contributes to the livelihoods of millions of people. However, pastoralism continues to be neglected, undervalued, and overlooked by governments and policy makers. Recent recurrent droughts, land fragmentation and other drivers of change are now stretching pastoralists’ coping strategies to breaking point. Many of the less fortunate have fallen into destitution and increasing poverty.

According to REGLAP, governments and international agencies have yet to find effective solutions to the complex natural and political vulnerabilities of pastoral communities. Responses have not always respected the complexity of pastoral livelihoods. A focus on short-term interventions has failed to address the underlying causes of problems and in some cases has compounded them.

Partner Text: 

Oxfam UK, Save the Children, Veterinarians without Borders Belgium, Care, Cordaid, Reconcile, and Overseas Development Institute (ODI).


Culture and Learning

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Liz Brooker
Martin Woodhead
Publication Date
September 1, 2010

This edition of Early Childhood in Focus (ECiF) addresses the major policy questions surrounding the place of culture in early childhood programmes and how to promote development and learning while respecting cultural diversities. ECiF is a series of publications produced by the Child and Youth Studies Group at The Open University, United Kingdom, with the support of the Bernard van Leer Foundation, intending to provide reviews of research on key policy and practice issues that are of value to policy makers and advocates for the rights of children.


HealthText: SMS and Community Radio Activate Health Information Flow in a Kenyan Slum

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Launched in November 2010, Internews and its partners HealthMap and Medic Mobile are developing an 18-month pilot project in the Korogocho slum area of Nairobi, Kenya, designed to respond to public health needs and improve disease outbreak preparedness and response to endemic diseases. The project uses new technologies and community mapping to link health workers to a local community radio station.

Communication Strategies: 

The project seeks to ensure that citizens are informed faster about disease outbreaks and emerging health trends, becoming empowered with information to take preventative and curative action. Meanwhile, community health workers will be able to improve their targeting of resources and communication with their full network of colleagues serving Korogocho.

The mapping project is designed to create an information chain from community health workers to the radio station to listeners, using SMS text messaging and new media platforms. Health information trends are identified and located, then interpreted and broadcast on Koch FM, a community radio station in Korogocho.

To lay the groundwork for the project, Internews and Google partnered to develop an interactive map of the Kenyan slum of Korogocho in Nairobi. The map will help monitor and visualise timely health information in the community. The project was carried out by a group of Korogocho residents, journalists from Koch FM, and health workers who mapped out the nine villages within Korogocho in immense detail.

Click here to view the map in Google Map Maker.

According to the organisers, knowing where people are on a map has an ability to bring people together, even in the most difficult living conditions. Residents showed great enthusiasm during community mapping, and partners were impressed at what the group had done in just three days of mapping. One of the journalists working on the project also said that besides the excitement of putting his station on the map, he is now better able to visualise the area where his station reports from and broadcasts. He said that this will help him network with community health workers and residents who will contribute in gathering information for the station. Organisers report that health workers have also mentioned it will make coordination of their work much easier.

Development Issues: 


Key Points: 

The slum of Korogocho in Nairobi, Kenya is one of the largest by population in Africa with some 200,000 people living in an area no bigger than a few New York City blocks.

Partner Text: 

Internews, Google, HealthMap, Medic Mobile, Radio Koch, and the African Population and Health Research Centre.


Internews website and Internews e-newsletter on December 1 2010.

Kibing HIV Awareness Films

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Produced by No Strings International, in partnership with the Irish organisation Trócaire, the Kibing puppet films form part of an education package designed for children ages 8-12 and older.

Communication Strategies: 

The central character of the films is the mysterious Kibii Kabooka Kibing who appears, from nowhere, with his speaking crow and monkey, on the pretext of offering big money prizes to the lucky ones chosen to play one of their three games. In reality, their aim is to make that person – the learning character – confront their prejudices or lack of awareness about HIV. In each film, taking part in the game leads to a change of attitude and an accumulation of wisdom, allowing that person to make better choices that will help them stay healthy, and to be more thoughtful of others in their community.

According to the producers, the learning character in each film is key to stimulating reflection about certain behaviours which in turn can lead to a change in behaviour. In each film the learning character undergoes the main change in attitude and through them the viewer also challenges the way they approach things. Although the characters are generally likeable, the viewer realises that this does not mean that one cannot be critical of these characters – because they lack awareness, they do lots of things that can be harmful to themselves or to those around them.

Although the films are intended primarily for children, they could be equally effective for older children and even adults, where they can be used to inspire a more complex and mature analysis of the pressures, problems, and anxieties they may face.

The following are the story outlines of the three films, each focusing on a particular issue - stigma, prevention, and gender equality:

Do You Know It All? (Stigma) This film features Simon Mukuba who thinks he knows a lot about HIV/AIDS. He makes it his business to share that knowledge with everyone else so that they don’t get infected. He tells everyone that HIV is a curse and caused by evil spirits and that one can even get it from touching a ball an orphaned boy has kicked. When Kibii Kabooka Kibing appears through his cloud of dust, it is Simon he picks to play the big cash prize "Do You Know It All" challenge. The wheel spins, the crowd holds its breath, and it stops at the HIV sign. For each correct answer, Simon keeps a $100 bill, and for each incorrect answer, the crow snatches it away. Needless to say, his first three answers are hopelessly wrong. The final question is: Is Simon Mukuba HIV positive? He says he is not as he is healthy as a buffalo. But as Kibing points out, there is no way of knowing unless one is tested. Simon loses the game, but both he and the other villagers are made to reflect on the fact that perhaps people living with HIV or AIDS deserve their support, not their fear, and that they should all get tested as testing means you can get medicines and stop the virus from spreading.

Will This Be Your Life? (Prevention) This film is about young Daisy Johnson. When walking home from school with her friend, Frances, and little brother, Daniel, she is flattered when Clifford, a guy on a motorbike, wants to talk to her. Rita and Tanya, the cool slightly older girls, are smoking cigarettes and watching. Daisy wants to be like them. When Kibing appears and offers her the amazing opportunity to choose between two futures, represented by Clifford, or Frances and Daniel, she does not hesitate and chooses the "cool" lifestyle. She is given a magical Return Button: at any point she can press it and return to the present with no harm done. At first, things seem great. Daisy grows up fast, smoking, drinking, hanging out in bars. Then she gets pregnant, loses her Return Button, and finds out she is HIV positive, even though Clifford seemed so healthy. With only Clifford to turn to, she arrives to find him disgusted, flinging her old school bag out of his house. Inside the school bag she finds the Return Button, and Daisy is able to go back to the present and to Frances and Daniel. She tells all her friends her story and warns them that they do not have the luxury of a Return Button.

The 24 Hour Challenge (Gender Equality) This film is about Joseph and Matthew who are two ordinary young school friends without a care in the world. They dream of motorbikes and cell phones and new sunglasses. They have no idea that each of their older sisters would love the same opportunity to go to school and that one of them is due to marry a much older man the very next day, and the other is plagued by the attentions of a lustful young drunk, Ruti. Kibing’s lesson takes the form of the 24-Hour Challenge. If each boy agrees to spend 24 hours as their sisters, the boys can have bikes and phones to their hearts’ content. When the exchange happens, Joseph is horrified to find he’s about to be wed the next day, and Matthew is terrified by Ruti’s menacing advances. In addition, both situations carry a risk of HIV. The police blame the ‘girls’ for being out late when they try to complain. With the fiancé and Ruti hot on their tails, there is only one thing to do - go back to Kibing and admit defeat, a mere 12 hours into the challenge. They realise, however, that it is their sisters who are the real losers and for whom life can be very unfair. They form a pressure group, seeking fairness and equality for all.

To date, the films have been dubbed in Swahili, Luganda, and African English dialect, with French, Kikongo, and Lingala versions currently nearing completion and with more languages to follow.

According to the producers, the films are culturally sensitive, with characters and sets familiar to their target audiences. The message content was developed with local partners in sub-Saharan Africa, many of whom are now active in their dissemination. The shoot took place at the Henson Studio Annex in New York City, NY, United States, in May 2009, with two of the No Strings in-country team there to provide advice on content, assist with arising issues relating to cultural sensitivity, and to ensure the films are created in line with full expectations of local partner experts.

As an educational tool, the No Strings films are intended to be used as an engaging means to present vital information that leads to further discussion and reflection. The stories present many important issues, and the characters are meant to form easy reference points for an exploration of real-life issues. Children watch the films in groups, and a visiting trained facilitator takes them on the journey from the film's fantasy world to the real world. Facilitators are trained during in-country No Strings workshops. Facilitators may be field workers with local partner organisations or teachers. They may be sent to attend a No Strings workshop in person, or they may be trained in subsequent sessions run by more senior staff who have themselves attended the No Strings workshop for training of trainers. As part of the workshop, No Strings also sends two leading puppeteers to conduct hand puppet training classes so that facilitators can introduce characters for specific educational roles which help reinforce their learning and deepen their understanding of the many pressures, fears, and sense of isolation that young people may experience. Locally-produced hand puppets are provided, along with a facilitator’s guide detailing the overall methodology.

No Strings held a five-day facilitators workshop in October 2009 for 36 delegates from Trócaire’s local partner organisations in 8 sub-Saharan African countries: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mozambique, Angola, and Zimbabwe.

An assessment visit was conducted in March 2010, in which a number of partners using the films in Kenya and Uganda were visited. Findings from the assessment were incorporated into a Facilitator's Guide and Training Manual, which were distributed to facilitators using the programme.

Click here to view photos from the production on Flickr.

Development Issues: 

HIV/AIDS and Gender

Key Points: 

Now registered in three countries, No Strings was founded six years ago by some of the staff from the original Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, and many other TV and film favourites, and an experienced humanitarian aid team. Their work is based on a simple idea - how to get through to people with crucial information in a way they will enjoy, engage with, and remember. No Strings works globally to create films that challenge behaviours linked to issues such as peace building, HIV/AIDS, health, and safety.

No Strings films are being used by organisations such as Trócaire, Plan International, the International Organisation for Migration, and Save the Children, while in the Philippines, their natural disasters-awareness programme is being incorporated by the Department of Education as part of the national curriculum across the schools system.

Partner Text: 

No Strings International and Trócaire.


AIDSAlliance Blog, and email from Rosie Waller to Soul Beat Africa on September 3 2010.

(Photo by: Jeffery Price)

The Team: Kenya - Midterm Evaluation Results

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Amr Abdalla
Laurel Gaylor
Publication Date
March 1, 2010

University for Peace

This is a midterm evaluation of a television and radio drama series, The Team, which was produced in response to the post-election violence in Kenya in December 2007. Developed and produced by Search for Common Ground (SFCG) and Media Focus on Africa (MFA), this episodic series asks a central question: Can Kenyans find a way to put the past behind them in order to have a better future?


Email from Deborah Jones to Soul Beat Africa on May 3 2010; and the SFCG website on September 2 2010 and October 26 2010.

Rightful Place: Endorois’ Struggle for Justice - Video Advocacy in Kenya

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In 2006, Witness, an organisation using video to expose human rights violations, partnered with the Kenyan-based Centre for Minority Rights and Development (CEMIRIDE) to produce a video documenting the legal battle of the Endorois people to return to their indigenous lands around Lake Bogoria in Kenya. The community had been evicted from their land in the 1970s to make way for a nature reserve and the video, called "Rightful Place: Endorois’ Struggle for Justice", formed part of advocacy efforts for restitution.

Communication Strategies: 

In developing the video, Witness conducted two workshops with CEMIRIDE around making documentary films for advocacy. During the second workshop, participants created the video, which looks at the Endorois people, their claims to the land around Lake Bogoria, the impact of being evicted from the land, and the ongoing legal dispute between the community and Kenyan government. The video demonstrated how conditions on the ground breached articles of the African Charter on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR). To support the case before the ACHPR and enable a broader campaign for the Endorois community in Kenya, a second video on the issue, was produced in 2007 for use in a national campaign in Kenya and in international fora.

The video was submitted as evidence to the African Commission on Human and People's Rights, as a way to bring the voices of the affected Endorois into the courtroom. In February 2010, the ACHPR found the Kenyan government guilty of violating the rights of the indigenous Endorois and the Kenyan government now is legally bound to restitute the land and compensate the Endorois for their loss. According to organisers, this case was the first time that a video was accepted as evidence. The decision also created a major legal precedent by recognising, for the first time in Africa, indigenous peoples’ rights over traditionally owned land and their right to development.

Click here to watch the video of "Rightful Place: Endorois’ Struggle for Justice" on the Witness website.

Click here to watch a short video about the background, timeline, and strategy of this video advocacy project on the Witness blog.

Development Issues: 

Land Rights, Minority Rights

Key Points: 

According to the organisers, violations of land rights, including the rights of the generations of Kenyans displaced through historical and recent evictions, are one of the key unresolved issues in Kenya. In the last decade there have been several attempts at comprehensive land reform that would allow for final and fair determination of land ownership and create a system to restore land to those unlawfully evicted or to compensate them. None of these reforms have been completed.

Partner Text: 

Witness, Centre for Minority Rights and Development (CEMIRIDE)


Witness website and Witness blog on July 27 2010.

Promoting Science in Schools: Research Institutes Play their Part

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Alun Davies
Bibi Mbete
Dickson Ole Keis
Samson Kinyanjui
Publication Date
June 17, 2010

KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Programme (Davies, Mbete, Kinyanjui), Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Kenya (Ole Keis)

This article discusses the potential role of research institutes to enrich school science, demystify health research in the communities in which they work, and encourage future generations of scientists and health workers. It focuses on the work of the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)-Wellcome Trust programme (KEMRI-WTP) in Kilifi, Kenya.


Health Exchange - Summer 2010, June 23 2010, emails from Samson Kinyanjui and Alun Davis to The Communication Initiative on July 29 2010.

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