Bloomberg Media Initiative Funding a Boost For Community Media
Mtaani will use its two radio community radio stations to promote transparency and accountability by providing relevant information to communities to improve public participation and understanding of the county development planning process. [ Photo / Youtube ]


The Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa (BMIA) and the Ford Foundation have awarded their latest round of funding to community media in Africa.

Five organizations in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa will receive grants from the BMIA Community Media Fund (BMIA-CMF) to improve training and support the production of independent, reliable news content on issues impacting local communities.

Additional COVID-19 emergency response grants have also been awarded to two organizations in Kenya and South Africa to directly address misinformation around the coronavirus pandemic. 

Independent, local journalism has a critical role to play in providing accurate information about preventing and managing COVID-19 in communities.

Local media, particularly radio, played a similar role during the recent Ebola epidemics in West Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, helping to counter disinformation and overcoming stigma associated with the disease. 

 In Kenya, the BMIA-CMF grants have been awarded to the Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK), Friends of Lake Turkana (FoLT) and Mtaani Community Based Organization. The Kenya Community Media Network and The Conversation Africa in South Africa received emergency funding to support the creation of evidence-based content, including fact-checking around the impact of the pandemic in Kenya and South Africa.

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The five BMIA-CMF grantees will also use a portion of their grants to create COVID-19 public service campaign.  

“The BMIA Community Media Fund was created to improve citizens’ access to reliable news, to elevate marginalized voices, and to advance reporting on socio-economic issues that impact regional communities across Africa,” said Erana Stennett, Director, Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa.

“As we confront economic insecurity in the midst of this pandemic, access to reliable local news and information has never been more important, or more under threat due to false and misleading information. We hope that our support will help secure the viability of vital community media organizations to protect the communities they serve.” 

Innocent Chukwuma, Regional Director, Office for West Africa, Ford Foundation, said community media systems are essential to our democracy as they provide a voice to the voiceless communities and present life-saving information to their audience.

 Yet the COVID-19 global pandemic is threatening the continued existence of these stations. This support from the BMIA Community Media Fund will provide much-needed reprieve to some of these media outlets and help them continue doing their amazing work and impacting lives in the communities in which they operate.” 

 Ikal Ang’elei, Director, Friends of Lake Turkana, said in marginalized communities like the Turkana, the enthusiastic adoption of new media technologies is reshaping public discourse. “Doubly marginalized groups in the community, such as young women, are actively exploring opportunities, skills and support to make their own voices heard through new media,” Ang’elei said.

This prompted their project “Giving voice through Citizen Journalism. Through this intriguing partnership project, we will train 20 young women and adolescent girls in media and facilitate their access to safe spaces, networks, mentorships and community stories.” 

Marceline Nyambala, Executive Director, Association of Media Women in Kenya, said: “AMWIK is grateful to the CMF for the opportunity to partner in the second phase of this project. We reached 7 million people with our first CMF grant which enhanced the skills of our community of radio journalists. The stations they work within, continue to benefit to this day. We are encouraged to see communities take action in response to the critical accountability, transparency and social justice stories produced by community radio journalists and citizen journalists supported by the CMF grant.” 

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Bonface Opany, Station Manager, Radio Domus FM, said: “Mtaani CBO seeks to use its two radios to enlighten communities in Nairobi and Kajiado Counties on issues within the County Integrated Development plans (CIDPs). We will engage with community members, involving them in focus group discussions and public forums, to identify gaps that community radio journalists will address through in-depth programs on Mtaani Radio and Radio Domus. This will in turn help to build a community that is able to ensure social accountability and engage in building structures necessary for meaningful citizen engagement.”   

The five organizations that will receive BMIA Community Media Fund grants are:  

Kenya 

  • The Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK): The Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK) is a national association for women journalists committed to enhancing the status of women in Kenya and Africa. AMWIK’s project seeks to build upon their previous grant to strengthen the capacity of citizens and community media journalists to produce and distribute radio documentaries covering local development in Kenyan counties. 
  • Friends of Lake Turkana (FoLT): Friends of Lake Turkana (FoLT) is a community trust focused on rights, resources, and environmental advocacy, working to foster social, economic, and ecological justice in Turkana. Through their grant, FoLT will train young women in four sub-counties of Turkana, focusing on citizen journalism. The training will enable young women to produce and facilitate interactive radio programs on three radio stations and take part in radio listening clubs.  
  • Mtaani Community Based Organization: Mtaani Community Based Organization is a non-profit organization supported by volunteers. Mtaani will use its two radio community radio stations (Radio Domus FM and Mtaani Radio) to promote transparency and accountability by  providing relevant information to communities to improve public participation and understanding of the county development planning process. Mtaani CBO will build upon an earlier BMIA-CMF grant and produce radio programs and facilitate public forums to enable the community to participate and provide feedback on development in Kajiado and Nairobi counties.  

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Nigeria 

  • The Institute for Media and Society: The Institute for Media and Society project focuses on promoting better governance, transparency, and accountability in natural resources management at the grassroots level in six local government areas in five states in Nigeria, through training, reporting, production, and dissemination of content. The project will be implemented in collaboration with Nigeria Community Radio Coalition and five community radio stations.  

South Africa 

  • Bush Radio: Bush Radio is a pioneering community radio station in South Africa, renowned for its active role in fighting the apartheid regime and promoting democracy. Through the grant, Bush Radio will train reporters from the ten largest community radio stations in the Western Cape Province on financial reporting and local government budgetary processes. Bush Radio will also support the production of programs including news bulletins, reports and analysis. 

Recipients of the BMIA-CMF COVID-19 Emergency Response grants are: 

Kenya Community Media Network (KCOMNET): Kenya Community Media Network specializes in the development of community media, focusing on community radio, resource centers and newsletters. Through their grant, KCOMNET proposes to work with community radio stations to broadcast content on local issues around COVID-19. In addition, they will set up fact-checking desks in six radio stations. 

The Conversation Africa: The Conversation Africa (based in South Africa) is an independent source of news and views from the academic and research community, delivered directly to the public. The Conversation Africa project will focus on disseminating evidence-based content to communities across South Africa, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria through WhatsApp in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The BMIA Community Media Fund was established in 2015. The fund’s grants, awarded over two years, aim to elevate voices from local communities and further the development of citizen journalism and community reporting on financial and economic issues. To date, 12 community media organizations in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa have received grants through the fund.

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