Part 3: Initial Messaging Feedback

April 4, 2013

 

Throughout the election week, SNA-K collected both solicited feedback (via our large network of partner organizations, outreach workers, and their observations as well as feedback they received from the community) and unsolicited feedback through our office line and SMS platform.

All feedback (quotes from the general public, observable impact, and feedback from partners) is tracked in relation to specific messages and actions taken. SNA-K keeps this information in a database, which will be fully analyzed in the months after the election process is completed.

In this report, we have included a snapshot of the types of solicited and unsolicited feedback SNA-K received from partners and subscribers during the March 4th elections week.

 

Dandora

During and following the elections, SNA-K sent messages and helped flag security concerns in Dandora to the NSC. Dandora was one of the areas that experienced the most tensions and incidents in the days leading up to and following the elections. On election day, youths supporting a particular political party overwhelmed police in Phase 4 to prevent voting. This was brought under control by backup security, and SNA-K sent a message.

Feedback from residents included comments that, the message “helped to calm down the situation” and “was sent at the right time,” because, according to partners “they think the whole world was watching Dandora. Everyone knew what was happening.”

 

Following a second message, our Dandora co-ordinator summarized feedback from eight outreach workers in the area. They said: “the message helped to maintain calm, reminds us of our community, makes us be united, shows someone thinks about Dandora, reminds us to be peaceful all the times, and thanks for reacting and responding to our concerns.”

 

Burnt Forest & Kariobangi North

Our area Co-ordinator for both Burnt Forest and Kariobangi North reported similar feedback from both places.

In one case, a community partner said: “The message had a real impact. People stopped and were looking at their phones. They were gathered in groups and talking about politics.”

He noted that the community was congratulating SNA-K members on their work and that the messages had a particularly big impact in Kariobangi North where they helped to break up negative groupings.

He noted that based on the feedback he received, people were saying that, “the IEBC has their own ways of doing this – and they may not trust them but getting a peace message from us will give them a reaffirmation of the situation.”

Many community members requested additional messages.

 

Korogocho

The highlights of the messaging feedback from Korogocho are as follows:

- “The messages make people think otherwise if they wanted to do something wrong.”

- “Updated people with the information which made people to be calm.”

- “The messages helped keep people calm.”

 

Eldoret

On March 11th, Eldoret partners wrote to SNA-K, saying:

“We are grateful for the good messages we have been receiving from SNA-K. Continue with the good job,” and “Viva SNAK for coming up with such a unique way of preaching peace through mobile technology. Keep up!”

SNA-K also received quotes from community members:

“We are grateful cos the messages are totally free of charge, not as we thought when being subscribed to the system.”

This quote shows the importance of building trust and credibility when it comes to SMS and technology-based services. Another person noted:

“I went to the interior and Kapsoya, and they are complaining not to be receiving messages. Kindly do some outreach there.”

This shows that a demand was created for SNA-K messaging in additional areas.

On March 6th, an SNA-K subscriber called the SNA-K office line, saying:

“Rumours circulated in the morning almost brought commotion, that the election kit had been spoilt, and people would vote the second time. People were worried. Rumours spread so fast, but when asked how they got info those spreading rumours disappeared and calm returned. We are getting messages from SNA-K and forwarding to all in our phonebooks. I am proud of what Sisi ni Amani is doing. We need to celebrate you after elections. There is a big effect, and the stickers are all over so we are asking people to not bring propaganda here because this is amani zone.”

This message shows the importance of messaging that is directed towards the spread of rumours and how people interact with information that they receive during emotionally tense periods.

 

Narok County

Narok County was a main focal point for SNA-K, with the area experiencing tensions throughout the voting process. In particular, reports from Ololulunga of high tension came in from polling day, and through the tallying process. In response to the pre-election messages sent with voter education information, the SNA-K office line received calls from Ololulunga subscribers, saying:

“We are generally peaceful and hope to vote peacefully tomorrow. Continue sending these messages. Ni poa sana.”

On March 5th, after chaos at a polling station over tallying, an SNA-K subscriber called Samuel, called and said:

“There has been calm in Ololulunga and I would like to thank you for informing the police who came to the area so quickly and for the message you sent that helped to maintain calm. I can now go home happy after my tallying center has finished its job peacefully Thank you Sisi Ni Amani.”

SNA-K’s Coordinator for Mulot, Sogoo, and Sagamian, Pastor Wilson Mosonik, received phone calls and thank you messages from the areas he was co-ordinating.

On March 5th, a man named Joel from Rongena, called Mosonik to thank him for the messages saying that the area has historically always had problems during elections, and that this time, the messages brought peace and have been a topic of discussion. Further, during the tallying where tensions were rising, he would show people the message about maintaining calm and he said it really helped. He wanted to say thank you.

This feedback shows the potential for messages on peoples’ phones to become a tool that they can use in their own peace efforts.

Community members from Sogoo and Sagamian told Mosonik that the messages were helpful and that they recognized that SNA-K has really worked hard and that they appreciated the messages. They said that the messages helped bring peace in the areas and that if anyone was about to bring up a dispute they would be shown the messages from SNA-K.

.Again this shows the need to further understand how messages can become a tool for the people who receive them to talk more openly and with more credibility about peace.

In Transmara, also in Narok County, a subscriber called the office line on March 9th to say:

“Thanks so much for your wonderful messages. At least you gave us something to look up to and helped us maintain peace…Kudos.” Further, we received a call on March 10th letting us know that the messages were very helpful and that the messages were being discussed during a morning mass at church that morning.

 

Sotik/Sotik-Borabu Border

SNA-K received a lot of feedback is Sotik, specifically around the Sotik/Borabu border.

On March 5th, a subscriber called Barimen living on the Sotik Borabu border told Pastor Mosonik, the area coordinator, that he was happy that the SMS came in right before and during the elections and “helped maintain calm even when the electronic registers were not working.” He thanked SNA-K for bringing peace to the border.

This and other feedback show that SMS, if used well, can be a tool to encourage patience in particular and help people wait out scenarios that could otherwise lead to rumors and tensions. On March 6th, a subscriber called Langat wrote to the office line to say:

“Its been a long stretch towards the finishing line of 2013 elections, On behalf of Sotik district I wish to thank SNA-K for tireless work of reminding the residents importance of maintaining peace.”

 

General

Finally, as a nice piece of general feedback, SNA-K also received a message to the SMS number 22762 which, translated to English, read:

“Thank you SNA-K educating me through your messages and for helping me maintain peace. Mine is to say that God bless you because your organization is like a church.”


 


Lessons Learned

March 26, 2013

Throughout the course of our elections-based messaging, several key takeaways, lessons learned, and questions for the future became clear. These included:

  1. As the days went on, it became clear that there are certain situations in which messages cannot or should not be used. While this issue has arisen previously and we have set guidelines to deal with this, new situations came to light during the week and deepened our understandings of these situations. These highlighted the importance of establishing clear guidelines based on our prior research and our new election-time experience going forward. These guidelines should outline instances and occasions when a message is not or might not be appropriate, and how to go about making that judgment call. Below are some examples of situations where messaging could in fact contribute to insecurity, rather than alleviate it.
    1. High-Risk Message: This is the first and most important situation where messages should not be sent, as it deals with the danger for a message to cause alarm or worsen situations on the ground. These are messages that would be sent to an entire area, even if the issue is localized, and could cause alarm. This category also includes messages that would be sent out after a certain time at night, which again risks causing alarm. SNA-K was careful to avoid sending messages that had the potential to worsen or aggravate a situation. In cases where the concerns were geographically very isolated; or, where uncertainty was caused by thieves/common criminals taking advantage of the situation; or, finally, when an incident occurred late in the evening, SNA-K alerted security and continued to monitor the situation instead of sending a message. We noted that where people saw that we would report incidents and/or the potential for violence to security agencies, it also increased the reputation of SNA-K and the SMS. This represents an important factor for future exploration through research.
    2. Annoyance Factor: In order to create maximum impact from the messages, it is important that they are not sent so frequently as to become an annoyance. This includes reading the general mood. Tallying went on for days, and people became exhausted from hearing about the election. SNA-K was vigilant about not sending too many messages asking people to be patient, and instead, at one point sent all subscribers a message commending them and letting them know they were appreciated. We suspected that any more messages asking people to continue to stay patient was likely to backfire, and prompt people to unsubscribe or to disregard our messages.
    3. Organizational/Perceptions Risk: As situations evolve, it is important to be very, very, careful about being perceived to be partisan. In the coming days/weeks as the court cases are decided, this becomes even more important. One example is that after the results were announced, it was necessary to send a 160-character message to urge people to celebrate or react responsibly, without seeming to favor either side. As communities become more and more polarized in the coming days ahead of the court judgment, being sensitive about this type of dual targeting for multiple groups at the same time will become even more critical.
  2. Some amount of silence is crucial. In order for the messages to have an impact, they need to arrive at the right time, when people are most likely to pay attention to them. In extreme cases, messages need to be able to interrupt disruptive activity, including spreading of rumors. This involves understanding and calculating the limited social capital and airtime that SNA-K has as an organization to get people to pay attention to us. Messages cannot be sent out every time there is tension; instead, they should be used strategically so as to have maximum impact.
  3. Targeting is Key. People responded very well to messages that included the name of the place they were located. This personalised the messages and added to the sense that they were not alone, and their areas were being watched. In the future, as platforms become more sophisticated, it might make sense to have functionality whereby there is a “fill-in-the-blank field” for location, for example, “let us keep peace [location]” and the field would automatically be filled in from the database. This would hasten the process of message sending.
  4. Messages in combination with on-the-ground work and effective collaboration with relevant institutions is key. Our work throughout the election process showed the importance of combining messaging with on the ground work. This was demonstrated by the situations in which messages were not appropriate, but which SNA-K was able to report to relevant institutions such as the NSC for rapid response. This helped both to mitigate conflict and to increase SNA-K’s reputation in the target communities. One medium or approach is never going to be effective for every possible situation – it is important to have an awareness of appropriate responses to specific situations, and to work closely with partners and relevant institutions to help ensure that there is a relevant response to each issue that arises.

We hope that this blog post can serve as a starting point for conversations around the nuances of messaging about peace and using text messages as a medium. Our next blog in this three-part series will share some of the raw feedback we received with regards to our messaging around the March 4th elections.


Election Week: March 3 – 9

March 21, 2013

Sisi ni Amani sent out a total of 524,514 messages to its 65,000-strong subscriber pool during the week of the Kenyan general elections. Messages were sent out as and when the situation demanded. They were crafted to respond to a range of scenarios, from civic education needs and rioting at polling stations, to encouraging patience and calm where lines were long, or when there was a delay in announcing results.

In the first of a three-part blog series, we will provide a brief update of how events unfolded. The second part will examine the lessons learned from the week, and present some points for discussion and research for the future. The third part will pull out feedback from partners, subscribers, and members of the Kenya-wide Sisi ni Amani community, and reflect upon the impact of the messages sent.

It took a full six days from voting day, on March 4, for the IEBC to announce the results of the elections. The team followed the elections through a number of mediums, including monitoring the situation on the ground through our area co-ordinators and parters, and media – both traditional and social. We are currently continuing to watch and track the political situation, as there are two major legal challenges to the outcome pending in the Supreme Court – one by Raila Odinga, Prime Minister, and leader of the CORD coalition, and the second by numerous civil society organizations under the umbrella of KPTJ (Kenyans for Peace Truth and Justice) and AfriCog. Mr Odinga is calling for an entirely new election – citing inconsistencies and failures that marred this exercise.

As the Supreme Court prepares to hand down its verdict, we are preparing for one of a number of scenarios, including the possibility of a runoff, a re-count, an entirely new election to be called (a re-run), or for the election results to be declared valid. We are closely watching as events unfold, as each scenario carries the risk of volatility, that could impact the communities in which we work.

As SNA-K collected information, verified situational updates, sent messages, and responded to the process of releasing the results and announcing a final outcome, the team was shadowed by a filmmaker. To see more on his work, you can check out this link to the Peace in Our Pockets (a documentary about the work of Sisi ni Amani and some of its partners) blog. For an insight into the messages we sent, and the situations that called for them, please see this article in Quartz, written by SNA-K’s Program Manager Neelam Verjee.

Leading up to and throughout the election cycle, SNA-K’s work was also featured in Businessweek, The Economist, CNN, again in Quartz, and in Foreign Policy.


Indigo Trust Supports SNA-K

September 13, 2012

We are very excited to announce that Indigo Trust has awarded Sisi ni Amani Kenya a grant to support further technology development to increase the effectiveness of SNA-K’s work as we approach the 2013 elections. This support is hugely important for SNA-K, as it will add key features to the SMS platform to increase the ease of use, targeting of messages, and understanding incoming data and demographics within the system.

We would write more, but we think that Indigo’s blog post says it all – read their post here!


Desirable Future

September 8, 2012

When I talk about desirable future am sure most of you are thinking of your needs and how they should be fulfilled in the future, but that’s being self centered. Think of a desirable future where everyone cares and shows empathy towards one another. This is what I experienced last week on Friday at Baba Dogo, three candidates with a vision for Nairobi Governor Seat. Wow! I must say I was impressed not only by the aspirants but also Baba Dogo Residents.

In Baba Dogo, all known aspirants were invited and three attended. The aspirants present were former teacher and a former councilor Mr.Mutinda Kavemba; Mr. Richard Nyakwaka, a former Rugby player for the Kenya National Team; the former ormer chairman for Nairobi Central Business District Mr. Timothy Muriuki.   All of these aspirants showed empathy by the words they used towards the Baba Dogo residents. Each aspirant rose and presented his credentials to the audience, after which the floor was opened for questions. Wenye nchi (Baba Dogo Residents) had a series of questions that they felt were key to their community, and they listened keenly to the answers.

Affordability is a word known to many, especially Nairobi Residents: life is becoming more difficult for Nairobi residents, with rent, fuel prices, electricity costs and the overall cost of living increasing. This was obviously a pressing issue for Baba Dogo residents, especially for the young people who are growing in this area: An upcoming artist called “Stress Kibao” made my day when he asked what will the candidates do about garbage collection in the area since everything is being charged and many youth are being harrassed by law enforcement. Each aspirant answered the question with a concrete answer. Some spoke of how they are going to recycle the waste and make products that can raise revenue to the residents of Baba Dogo. One interesting answer was young people forming SACCOs (savings and credit co-operative) to get loans and to be contracted for various activities in the area. This really made the audience excited since the aspirants assured the residents that they can even access loans when they are in a SACCO.

This Debate was special and different, with excitement and engagement from both the community and the aspirants, and an excellent rapport between the aspirants. Another thing that moved me is the fact that the candidates talked of reviving tertiary institutions in the area and also the social halls that are used to nurture talents. Of course insecurity had to be addressed, and the aspirants talked of how they will empower the youth in programs that will reduce the rate of insecurity in Baba Dogo and also security at a large in Nairobi. One aspirant spoke of how he was going to engage with the National Government to ensure Nairobi is safe. Health facilities in Baba Dogo also need a big upgrade, and the three candidates’ spoke of how an assessment will be carried out to identify the various departments and facilities that need improvement.

At the end of the debate the audience was entertained by the upcoming artist with his latest single “Stress Kibao.” I am amazed how this debates have turned to be life changing events. Just like Stress Kibao was able to market and share his talent, people are able to tell their stories and the same time inspire others. It’s my wish that Kenya Remains one and united during the elections and after the elections.

More debates coming up in October!


Sauti Yetu Debates: Senator’s Edition

September 7, 2012

Sauti Yetu Debates had its Senator Debate in Korogocho, Friday the 17th of August. Despite inviting all known aspirants, only one aspirant, Timothy Njiiru showed up to the debate. While we were initially disappointed, the audience stayed for several hours, engaging fully and asking many questions.

Njiiru started by giving his vision and ambitions once he gets senator’s seat. He talked of how he is going to fix the loopholes of illegal money circulating in the country. He  mentioned he is going to ensure good structures are put in place that are leading to good governance, once he gets the office.  In the midst of the audience, there was this bishop who had a series of question towards the candidate; one of the questions that caught my attention was the reason why Mr. Njiiru believed he is the best candidate for the job. Mr.Njiiru talked of how he has been through several sets of Civic Education and how he volunteered in several peace building activities in Nairobi County. Mr. Njiiru had to convince the residents of Korogocho he is not to going disappear if he gets the post, and he promised to consider them in his priorities. Distribution of resources in Korogocho was a hot topic for the audience since the place has scarce resources: facilities and social amenities such as hospitals and schools are rare and the population is too large to access the few amenities in the area. Another question dealt with disaster management in the area Disasters have been happening in the area and a lot needs to be done to reduce the impact and frequency of these incidences in the area.

It was a fascinating debate, and despite being disappointed that more aspirants did not show up, the audience was engaged throughout.

Now, for a peace quote of the day:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.


Update on NAROK!

August 22, 2012

SNA-K is all about empowering, understanding and connecting peace in Kenya.

Narok is one of SNA-K’s projects, and,  like I mentioned in the other blog, I will be focusing on the narok chapter.

Narok County is located in Rift Valley and constitutes 3 constituencies (Kilgoris, Narok North and Narok South). It’s a rural urban populated area, mostly by the Maasai community and Based on Narok Pop Pyramid Age Groups – 2009  there is more female than male population in the area (https://opendata.go.ke).

I was able to talk to Jackie and Caleb to learn more about the work that’s been going on in Narok in the past few months. It was exciting for me to interview them and read their reports to understand what it was all about, and now I pass the knowledge on to you.

Most of the main causes of conflict in Narok are related to land. SNA-K recently did a research into existing land issues in Narok. Their research highlighted key land issues – such as double leasing, family disputes, boundary disputes, and improper documentation and allocation, among other issues. The research also highlighted key areas of confusion and mistakes made by the general public when dealing with land issues. As land and issues surrounding it are so central to conflict in Narok, I’ve to write my first blog entry about Narok with a focus on summarizing the research findings, which form a basis of the issues that SNA-K hopes to help prevent and resolve in the Narok area.

One of the issues that the research found is lack of coordination between legal and traditional land acquisition, management and dispute resolution. SNA-K’s research revealed a complex struggle between variety of authorities and dispute resolution mechanisms. Individuals involved in traditional mechanisms and individuals on the ground seem to prefer the tribunals, and, because of their knowledge, they involve Elders. As it stands now, while the court has a final say, there are always more mechanisms to appeal to/through, and there is a lack of a clear ultimate arbitrator for disputes. Many institutional representatives interviewed expressed the need to work more closely with traditional mechanisms and vice versa.

Another major issue is that members of the public often do not secure documentation or follow correct procedures for land acquisition, management and conflict resolution. Common mistakes include not involving relevant parties, writing the wrong measurement of land (i.e. hectares vs. acres), and more.

Double leasing / double sale of land is another land issue that emerged from the research. The lack of understanding of how this works often leads to conflict. This issue goes hand in hand with boundary disputes and allocation, mostly as a result of lack of documentation and corruption.

Family disputes come up when ‘family land’ is sold by a family member without the consent of the entire family. This mistake extends from the family members and the buyer. Another type of family dispute revolves around inheritance and succession.

And finally, there is an issue of usage of public land specifically in the case of group ranches, which is complicated and often not well understood by the community.

There is definitely a lot of work to be done here, most of which involve civic education, and increase of coordination between government institutions and traditional mechanisms.

In our determination to make a difference thus promote peace, SNA-K is continually doing research by talking directly to the members of the community through land forums and rumor forums in Narok. Additionally, we recently held a stakeholders meeting which brought representatives from different stakeholder groups – including individuals from Councils of Elders, Local Administration officials, and members of the Judiciary, Lands Registry, and many more. This was a first step to open dialogue between institutions so that they can better understand one another and create materials to explain to the public how they relate to each other.

In my next blog, I am going to talk about some very interesting results that came from the forum, so be sure to be on the lookout.

And don’t forget to like Sisi ni Amani on facebook!

Peace is not something you wish for; it’s something you make, something you do, something you are, and something you give away.”-Robert fulgham

Have a lovely week folks


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