Kibera News Network (KNN) has caught a bit of attention of the International Communities during the first one year of its existence.
The name Kibera stems from a Nubian word, kibra, which means ‘‘forest’’. Kibera is a division of Kenya (which was a forest in the early part of the twentieth century) and a province and neighborhood of the city of Nairobi. It is the largest slum in Nairobi, with a population of 170,070 (as per 2009 census), a figure, which is hugely debated and claimed to be far more than that. The people residing in Kibera are extremely poor, and they lack access to basic services, including electricity and running water. The reason behind is that the Kenyan government owns all the land but does not officially acknowledge the settlement and no basic services are publicly provided.
(Health and population in Kibera. Video by KNN)
The Kibera slum, was absent on the map until November 2009, when young Kiberans created the first free and open digital map of their own community under the “Map Kibera Project” which was initiated with a door-to-door survey and it has now grown to a complete interactive community information project. Kibera makes headlines often and mostly for negative news, violence, poverty, human rights abuse etc. Map Kibera and Kibera Community Development Agenda (KCODA) started Kibera News Network, an online “TV channel” for local stories and news about Kibera. The contents are generated by a community of young video journalists who vows to portray the other side of the Kibera collecting and broadcasting online local news and stories. The team of youths are all Kibera residents, locals of the 13 suburbs within the slum.
Besides their own website, they are also publishing their videos in Voice of Kibera, a site which maps their videos and also other news sent in by people via SMS and other mediums and map these videos. They are also helping traditional local media get new audiences online, helping them tell a new story of Kibera. According to Erica Hagen “the news they report isn’t usually covered by other sources, so it’s a valuable community resource.”
Here are some examples of the videos uploaded by the citizen journalists of Kibera. This video covers people’s reaction to a thief who was subjected to mob assaults.
Using the videos the community also spread campaigns related to their community. For example in this video Kibera residents rally against alleged anti-Muslim teacher:
During last August's referendum KNN journalists were phenomenal in their reporting. Jamie at Map Kiberia writes:
Ten of the new KNN video reporters and four editors will be covering the experiences, thoughts, and predictions of Kibera voters while looking out for signs of any disturbance or intimidation. Videos will appear on the Voice of Kibera site as well as the KNN Youtube channel.
At Global Voices Juliana Rincón Parra writes about the variety of contents of KNN:
Content is very varied: from job security issues, to reporting fires or train accidents, as well as cultural events and political activity.
See more videos at Kibera News Network's YouTube Channel.
We hope that the success of the KNN will be replicated in more places to give a voice to the marginalized communities.