Established in Nairobi, Kenya, the Map Kibera Trust is a local organization that incorporates three teams of young people leading three programs: Map Kibera, Voice of Kibera SMS reporting project, and the Kibera News Network. Continuing our case study series on the work accomplished by the Map Kibera Trust in Kenya, Rising Voices speaks to one of the organization’s participants, Wycliffe Sande.
Wycliffe is the coordinator of the Voice of Kibera and one of the members of the Kibera News Network. The SMS reporting project and the News Network work alongside the mappers (who created Kibera’s first open and accessible map) to amplify the voices of the community by aggregating and mapping community reports submitted via SMS and enhancing the mapped data with video stories.
Rising Voices: Why do you feel the Voice of Kibera is so important?
Wycliffe Sande: It feeds and gives people of Kibera a chance to share information across the board (something that was only a preserve of a few) hence enhancing citizen journalism and active participation.RV: How did you get involved with the project?
WS: After attending a global giving forum, this idea was shared and we thought it should be implemented. We organized a workshop in Kibera's Mchanaganyiko Hall to be trained on various aspects of technology and there followed several meetings to get things done. Youths who were interested are the ones who come for the training.
RV: How do you verify the credibility of the SMS street reports that are uploaded to the Voice of Kibera website?
WS: We have a team of six editors who live in Kibera, have access to the dashboard and before they approve any report from citizens, they get in touch with their established networks in the different villages to ascertain the credibility of the reports
RV: The events taking place during the referendum in August 2010 solidified the need for a citizen media platform in Kenya. How did you and the team prepare, and how many reports were submitted that day?
WS: We had several meetings to discuss our plans. We had to put up posters along roads in Kibera, shops, and points where lots of people pass in the morning and evening (this was to let them know that we will be taking part in the monitoring process of the referendum). We provided them with a code (3002) that they were to report to in case of malpractices, violence, what they liked about the voting time. We liaised with Uchaguzi, an initiative that was carrying out reporting countrywide so that when we receive any news that needs attention we get them to bring on board the relevant authorities to remedy the situation. We received 35 positive reports and 8 video reports on that day.
RV: Fourteen youth make up the Kibera News Network, venturing into the streets with handheld cameras. How do they decide on the content to shoot?
WS: They normally have their meetings to decide on what to shoot. But mostly the themes of health, education, security, water and sanitation, and emergencies like fire outbreaks are top on their list not forgetting any information that is about/relevant to the people of Kibera.
RV: Have any of the young participants expressed an interest in pursuing journalism as a career?
WS: Yes! Big time.
RV: During your TEDxNairobi talk, you spoke of green awareness emerging in Kibera. What are some of these initiatives and how does the citizen platform help promote them?
WS: Initiatives include the sack gardening, organic farming, green house technology and renewable energy use. We give them the online media presence thus exposing them to the rest of the world
RV: Has mainstream media taken notice of your efforts?
WS: At a local level not yet, but we now have completed our media strategy which will allow us approach them and work out possible partnerships to necessitate content sharing. We have had international freelance journalists doing interviews with us.
RV: What changes have you seen in the community through their participation in this project?
WS: Those who use the platform do acknowledge our efforts of bridging the informational gap that has existed in Kibera, for they can now communicate any information with the rest of the world, which to them is putting Kibera in its right place, as well as challenging the perception that has been there.
RV: Where do you hope to see the project in the future?
WS: We hope to see a voice of Kibera that is an information hub for all, both from within and out of Kibera where “Kiberans” give at the same time receive information. A strong bond with the community and producing content that other local and international media houses can use and consume.
Follow Wycliffe on Twitter at @inspiresande