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Monthly Archives: October 2011


The team!

We’re back in Kwale County – working with Kwale Youth and Governance Consortium, Kwale Young Journalists and Dzilaz Ecotourism group to continue mapping governance, child protection and eco-cultural resources. There was quite a bit of excitement on Monday & Tuesday as we gathered together to review the progress made while our team was away. We also returned with Jeff Mohammed and Javin Ochieng – two young men from Mathare Valley who will share their experience and train their peers from Kwale on videography and blogging.

Overall, field data collection on the various themes had gone well. In one week, Kwale Young Journalists collected 27 points that relate to children’s issues. The features included schools, CBOs and dispensaries.

Kwale Youth and Governance Consortium had collected over 100 points – and had managed to cover various devolved funding projects. They had about 50% of their target data collected.

Dzilaz aimed to map 38 schools in Samburu area and had reached 18 of them. They were also planning to map 8 nature trails that included community sites preserved for eco-tourism – they had mapped 5, so had 3 left to cover.

Zack Wambua and Kwale team edit data

Challenges

During the week of field data collection, the three groups reported the following challenges:

  • Large area to cover and mappers were spread out so had to travel long distances to meet (or in summary, coordination)
  • Poor attendance at one community meeting because of last minute planning
  • Bad roads (heavy rains and flooding exacerbated this situation)
  • Interviwees not giving correct information
  • Too few field days
  • Work was very tiresome
  • Gaining cooperation from stakeholders
  • Did not have money for transport
  • Group dynamics (coordination)
  • People working late hours
  • Some vehicles were having problems (lack of fuel, uncooperative driver)
  • Lack of clear information
  • Creation of high expectations from schools in the community (i.e. some schools expected that the presence of the mappers, and the involvement of Plan International meant that they were there to assess the prospect of giving direct assistance to school programmes)
  • Some GPS units had problems

Most of the challenges encountered were logistical and we asked the youth to brainstorm solutions. The solutions involved planning ahead (we’re trying!), having a letter of introduction to facilitate open data sharing when they reach a site and to manage expectations from the community (very important!).

The challenges remind me of those reported by the YETAM teams in Mozambique and Cameroon – logistics in rural areas is a difficult beast (e.g. long distances to travel, poor roads, bad weather exacerbating the bad road conditions, etc). Some of these challenges can be mitigated by planning, a flexible time frame and a lot of patience!

The experience of resistance to giving information is perhaps another type of challenge. We’ve also experience similar resistance in Kibera and other areas. Sensitization meetings were carried out in the 3 areas ahead of the data collection work, however the teams were of course not able to meet everyone they encountered during the field work.

An introduction letter by the District Officer for the area was something the Cameroonian team prepared – and yesterday the teams were having difficulty obtaining information without such a letter. It was our intention to have these prepared ahead of time, but time restrictions and the large area we are trying to cover has made it difficult to have this arranged in advance. Next week the letters will have been prepared and the youth will continue with data collection. This will no doubt make it easier for the Kwale teams (note that in some villages, people were more open to giving information so this may or may not help in the area where the group experienced resistance).

In some cases, the letter may make little difference as the mappers probe for information about school drop outs and early pregnancies – this is sensitive information and school administration may not be keen to provide information that may paint their institution in an unfavourable light – even if the information may be used to generate a discussion that could lead to youth-generated solutions. This is understandable and can happen in many contexts. The youth have already identified those schools where they suspected they were receiving mis-information. As with any data, we cannot expect 100% accuracy and the interpretation of the results must be taken with a grain of salt.

The Plan Kwale staff – keen to see the project succeed – have been working diligently to try to fix the “bumps in the road”. One main challenge to designing and carrying out an iterative project that is supported by a large organization is procurement procedures that need to be followed (eg to secure accommodation so the youth can work from a central location, or ordering more vehicles to split the teams into smaller groups to cover a large area – different DOs for different areas are spread across hundreds of kilometers) – but the great team from Plan Kwale are doing their best and are working long hours to see that the project moves forward! So kudos to the Plan Kwale team for their hard work.

We’re learning together with the youth and the Plan Kwale team about mapping rural areas. One week of data collection in Kwale County results in about as many GPS points as we could have collected in Mathare in a single day! This of course presents a different set of challenges and opportunities – we look forward to reporting more stories and lessons from the field!

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Review of Week 1 – October 3-7, 2011

The Youth Empowerment through Technology Arts and Media (YETAM) project is a joint initiative of Plan International and local partners in 6 African countries (Cameroon, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Rwanda and Senegal). The project was initially funded by Nokia but is now supported by the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs via Plan Finland. In Kenya, YETAM is being implemented in Kwale County, with youth from 3 districts receiving training in digital media, including audio recording, visual arts, and various new technologies.

In Kwale County, the YETAM project has thus far empowered young people to employ video, audio recording and radio programmes to explore issues of child protection and child rights. Youth have also used information communication technology (ICTs) including Facebook to connect and explore governance issues and discuss accountability within local and national institutions.

Through the YETAM methodology, technology, arts and media are used to “start the conversation” about community issues – a strategy that has also been employed by our teams– through work that started first in Kibera and expanded and evolved in Mathare Valley with the support and mentorship of Plan Kenya.

Our team was first approached by Plan Kenya in July 2010 to support a 3 day mapping and new media training which were components of a week-long training and reflection for the YETAM project.

On October 3rd, Primoz Kovacic, Zacharia Wambua, Maureen Omino and myself joined Plan staff, members of Plan Kenya’s partner youth groups, and District Youth officers from Kwale County to begin a process of youth-led community mapping.  The purpose of the mapping is the support the on-going YETAM project and feed into youth-led advocacy work in the 3 districts. We were very conscious that we did not want to do “mapping for the sake of mapping” but rather hoped to add value to existing projects and programmes through supporting the collection of issue-specific information that could be used together with other information

The first step in the process was a “feasibility assessment.” Our work in Mathare, Kibera, Mukuru and some rural areas (Taita Hills, Mt Elgon) had given us the technical skills and understanding of the opportunities and challenges of digital media, particularly in relation to the type of youth-led advocacy work that Plan Kenya supports, however we were not familiar with the particular environment in Kwale. The first week we spent in Kwale, 30-some youth and Plan Kenya staff convened together at the Kaskazi Beach Hotel in Ukunda (south of Mombasa).

The mapping process involves young people from three of Plan Kwale’s partner organizations. The groups are:

  • Kwale Youth and Governance Consortium – with representations from the National Youth Councils from the 3 districts in Kwale
  • Kwale Young Journalists – a coalition of 14 organizations in Kwale distrct who have been trained to produce audio clips and are working on licensing for a radio station to deal with children’s issues.
  • Dzilza eco-tourism group – a community based organization based in Samburu along the Nairobi-Mombasa highway

We spent the first day of the feasibility assessment going over expectations and exploring the concept of mapping, with practical examples of our work in Kibera, Mathare and Primoz’s work in Taita Hills. The expectations from the youth included “meet new friends” & “exchange ideas”, “know more about mapping”, gain “more skills on ICT and mapping”, understand “the impact of mapping to the community” and “how to contextualize mapping and social life.”  It was clear from the expectations that the youth were excited about and interested in the process we were about to embark on and had come prepared to embrace mapping and digital technology as part of their toolset for advocacy and action within their communities – it is up to us to impart our knowledge to further empower them in their work.

After a morning of discussions, we needed to start to understand the geographic environment and social issues facing the young people in their communities.

This would help us facilitate the mapping process and organize the 3-5 weeks of data collection and field work.

First we asked each group to prepare a presentation of their group including, who they are, where they work, the main issues they deal with and activities they undertake. We also wanted to know the stakeholders they engage with on the various issues and during activities they carry out.

The youth were asked to draw a map of Kwale county. They divided into the three groups – Kwale Young Journalists, Kwale Youth and Governance Constorium and Dzilza. The exercise took longer than expected but the teams had interesting and thoughtful discussions of what features to include on the map and how to represent the entire county – which proved to be more challenging than anticipated.

Exercise 1: Mapping Kwale County

Realizing that the challenges of mapping the entire county and that each group needed to narrow down a smaller geographic region and specific issue to map – on Day 2 we asked the youth to break out into groups and draw the 3 districts that make up Kwale County. Interestingly, they divided themselves into groups based on who lived in what district instead of going into teams based on the region in which their group worked.

The smaller geographic region and the previous days experience made the paper-mapping much easier. The maps were more specific and clear than on Day 1!

Kinango District Paper Map

Kwale District Paper Map

Msambweni District Paper Map

The youth also identified a wide ranging list of approximately 10 issues for each District. In Msambweni for example, the youth discussed child abuse, sexual exploitation and child trafficking (in relation to the tourism industry in and around Ukunda), drug abuse, disasters such as floods and drought, poor academic performance in schools, early marriages and pregnancy, deforestation, lack of birth registration and ID cards, environmental pollution and squatters. This wide range of issues are important to note and discuss – however for focused advocacy work and 3-5 weeks of data collection it would be unmanageable.

So at the risk of discussion fatigue, we took the youth on an afternoon of setting up GPS devices to prepare for field work – to introduce GPS data collection and start to understand the scope of the issues we could focus on.

Setting up the GPS devices

On the third day we focused on the major issues within each group. We asked the young people to come up with the main issue or challenge their work was trying to tackle, their proposed solution, the action steps required (including releveant stakeholder engagement) and the data required to work toward the proposed solution.

Kwale Youth and Governance Council

The main challenge/issue identified by KYGC was social accountability (or lack of accountability due to poor governance and leadership). Their proposed solution involves “empowering society” through community forums, sensitization of the community on social accountability and “participation and inclusion [of community members]in decision-making process.” This will include activities such as stakeholders meetings, participatory planning & implementation of government projects, community involvement in monitoring and evaluation of projects, involvement of the community in the mapping, making recommendations and impact assessment. The team wants to focus on devolved government funds, including the Constituency Development Funds (CDF).

The data the team requires to support their work in social accountability are the following:

  1. Number of projects (aggregated from the data collection process)
  2. Budget allocation for each project
  3. Community participation (identification, place, project, proposals , capacity project committee)
  4. Relevance
  5. Impact (no of beneficiaries, workmanship, quality)
  6. Observations
  7. Project Categories
  8. Recommendations

Kwale Young Journalists

The Kwale Young Journalists chose to focus on two issues related to child protection: child labour & early pregnancy. The tean proposed that these issues can be tackled mainly through increased awareness of children and parents about the importance of education.

The action steps or activities for this proposed solution include 1) reporting cases of child labour and early pregnancy to the administration and the voluntary children officers 2) guidance and counselling of children and parents 3) holding barazas with the community through the administration 4) introducing life skills clubs in schools and villages (for example music, accounts, and journalisms clubs, etc)

Data required

  1. Reasons and vulnerability to child labour
  2. Forms of child labour
  3. The number of children involved in child labour
  4. The number of parents not taking care of the children
  5. The number of people
  6. The number of orphans
  7. The most vulnerable areas
  8. Family status
  9. Blended families
  10. Number of pregnant girls
  11. Reasons of vulnerability to early sex
  12. Number of schools most affected
  13. Number of girls who have gone back to school after giving birth
  14. Data on the number of reported cases
  15. Data of the effects of early pregnancy

When mapping child protection issues, we are aware that some of this data may be extremely sensitive and has the potential to result in further victimization of children and families if publicized. We suggested to the team to focus on publicly available information, such as information on schools, cases, cases of school-drop out, qualitative and quantitative information on the reasons for school drop-out and safe places for vulnerable children.

Eco-tourism in Samburu

The major issue that the Dzilaz group in Samburu will focus on is eco-cultural tourism and human-wildlife conflict. The causes of tension between tourism and culture, as well as wildlife conservation is exaserbated by the conditions in the semi-arid area, where the Dzilaz group operates. Poor government policy, animal migration and poaching and killing of animals are related issues the group is concerned about. The solutions proposed by the group include a combination of advocacy, participation in policy and livelihood activities. They suggested the community work on afforestation and reforestation, installing proper fencing eg electrical fence along animal migratory routes, enforce good governance policy through community participation with other stakeholders, liaise with the relevant authorities for technical support, for example lobby with KWS to permit us to introduce watching, animal hunting of antelope. Actions toward these solutions include door to door campaigns, awareness meetings, seminars/trainings, empowering communities on policy development, identifying resources for exploitation and meeting stakeholders.

Data required

  1. Points of human-wildlife conflict
  2. Number of people affected by the human wildlife conflict
  3. Distance of one school to another
  4. How many have been compensated for human-wildlife conflict
  5. Degree of damage to people, crops, properties

The brainstorming of data/information that the 3 groups hope to collect is a great start, however several concerns arose – including issues of privacy and child protection. Our on-going work focuses primarily on public datasets so we encouraged the youth to think about public assets rather than private data. We also realized that the type of information the teams are interested in is a combination of qualitative and quantitative information – GPS data collection will be only part of the information solution for this work. This week, Primoz, Zach and Maureen are working with each team to create data collection forms to concretize this information and decide on the strategy for further documentation to support GPS data collection and mapping.

 

Field work – Mapping Ukunda

The final two days of the feasibility assessment involved data collection and practical field work with the GPS devices. This was to begin to build skills, excitement and a better understanding of the practicalities of mapping.

The team of 30 youth split up into the three teams and divided the area to be mapped among them. Some walked along the main strip along Ukunda beach – from Kaskazi hotel to Congo Mosque – including the small village of Gombado, others mapped the area between the beach front and Ukunda town and the last team mapped Ukunda town itself.  Three hours of walking through the area and collecting data in the hot sun proved to be quite tiring for everyone. In two afternoons of field work the teams collected over 350 points of interest and mapped several roads and paths that were not previously mapped. The youth also learned how to digitize over the GPS points and tracks they had collected in the field to contribute data to OpenStreetMap and begin making a map!

Mapping Ukunda

Data collected in Ukunda area

Watch this space and Mapping [No] Big Deal for more updates as the project continues.