A PRESENTATION ON THE ROLE OF COMMUNITY MEDIA GROUPS IN TACKLING HUMAN TRAFFICKING

Njuki  Githethwa & Faith Mwende of  KCOMNET TEL: +254 00202379949

Email: njukig@yahoo.com/   faymwe@yahoo.com

Website: www.kcomnet.or.ke

a paper presented during a counter human trafficking symposium for the faith based and grassroots organizations in east africa held at shalom house nairobi, 22nd to 24th november 2011

Background

Established in 1995, the Kenya Community Media Network (KCOMNET) is a national network of individuals, media practitioners, community communication groups, media professionals and non-governmental organizations committed to the promotion of community media and development communication in Kenya. KCOMNET advocates for the creation and sustainability of community-based media owned, controlled, and produced by, for, and about communities.

Our Vision

To be the key driver of the national community media movement and voice of social change in Kenya.

Our Mission

To champion and popularize community communication initiatives through representation, capacity building and policy advocacy for transformative social change in Kenya.

Slogan

“Community Communication-Giving Voice to Communities”

Our Key Objectives

The Kenya Community Media Network has, but is not limited to the following three key objectives: –

(i)     To lobby for the establishment of a dynamic communication regime in Kenya that includes community media as a third sector after public and private media

(ii)  To execute a rigorous training programme for community communication groups to make them strong and vibrant

(iii)      To act as a capacity building arm for individual groups and for zonal joint communication groups efforts.

Our Programs

KCOMNETS main programs include:

1.      Community Radio and Radio Listening & Production Groups

2.      Community based Information Resources and Documentation Centers

3.      Community based Folk Media i.e. art, drama, puppetry, song and dance

4.      Community driven Video Production

5.      Community Newsletters

The role of Community Media in Society

Community media is any form of media that is created and controlled by a community, either a geographic community or a community of identity or interest. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), The World Bank, and the European Commission recognize community media as a crucial element in a vibrant and democratic media system.

Community media is a platform which enables the “voiceless” to have a “voice”. This kind of media exists in many countries in all continents, and in media systems they usually stand in-between public broadcasting and private media outlets.

Experience has shown that participation is the key defining feature of community media; it is what places community media outside of traditional media models, in which audiences are passive receivers of messages. In the community media model, senders and receivers together create messages and meaning through participatory processes.

Community media enables marginalised communities to speak about issues that concern them at the local level, creating linkages between development, democracy and community media. This presents a snap-shot of community needs and aspirations and allows a community to map its future using the bottom-up approach. The historical philosophy of community media is to use this medium as the voice of the voiceless, and the mouthpiece of oppressed people, or by communities that have not been served by conventional communication structures.

More so, community media offers space for creativity and is also a tool for empowerment. Besides this, community media is able to integrate different mediums of communication e.g. drama, song and dance, storytelling, puppetry, radio listenership groups and community radio stations.

The role of Community Media Groups in tackling Human Trafficking

An effective media can raise the awareness level and can also bring reduce vulnerability to human trafficking and other crimes. Community media is capable of performing the following roles in preventing human trafficking:

§  Education and Training: This can take the form of workshops, songs, drama, dance, storytelling, poetry, live music, bands, community newsletters puppetry and radio listenership groups among others.

§  A Channel for Communication and Discussion: One of the roles of media is to open the channels for communication and foster discussions about human trafficking and implications on women, girls, men and boys. Addressing human trafficking in the community radio program can have an enormous impact on the society.

§  A vehicle for Creating a supportive and enabling environment: Community media can be instrumental in breaking the silence that envelopes the practice and in making positive changes in the society. For example, Radio Mang’elete which use the Kikamba language to address issues of the community.

§  Education through entertainment: For creating an efficacious awareness about human trafficking, the messages need to be informative, educative as well as entertaining as these are mutually exclusive.

§  Mainstreaming: Broadcasters need to mainstream the human trafficking issue across a number of programs. A coordinated, multifaceted campaign has greater impact than a single programme. Documentaries, concerts, songs, drama, public service announcements, competitions, hotlines, books and websites can be linked together to reinforce awareness, information and messages about human trafficking.

§  Putting human trafficking on the News agenda and encouraging leaders to participate: The more the leaders see and hear about human trafficking in news the greater the resources they invest in anti-human trafficking strategies, which in turn leads to increased media coverage of the issue and helps to sustain public awareness which again has an impact on leaders’ priorities.

§  Making every citizen a “reporter”: Citizens reporting like journalists may be the only way for human rights abuses and other violations of a criminal or environmental nature to be brought to face broad public scrutiny.

§  Encouraging participation: From an audience perspective, it means that it can influence the content in a very proactive way and it enables individuals to access a readymade platform through which they can share their opinions.

  • Policy Advocacy Work: Through campaigns against human trafficking aimed at raising public awareness, to give chance to women, men and young people to contribute to activities against human trafficking and to lobby government response to human trafficking issues. Awareness raising can also be pursued through the production and distribution of information education materials, using the media for a wider reach as well as visual materials, using the media for a wider reach as well as visual materials in public areas.
  • Organizing regular dialogue forums at the grassroots to disseminate relevant information on human trafficking.

Conclusion

Community media is a very essential tool for development and can be used to disseminate information on human trafficking. Additionally, community media plays a crucial role in addressing issues of the community and offers a chance for debate on everyday community issues. There is need therefore to collaborate and create linkages in order to use community media as a means to report news differently from the mainstream media.

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