Kushiriki Project

In a rapidly evolving digital landscape, the role of youth in shaping political discourse and electoral processes is more critical than ever. Recognizing this imperative, Media Focus on Africa (MFA), in partnership with Impact Unified AB and the Public Policy Institute (PPI), embarked on an innovative initiative known as the Kushiriki Project. As the project concludes, it’s time to reflect on its impact in empowering Uganda’s youth for meaningful engagement in the electoral process.

Kushiriki, Swahili for “to participate,” was born out of the collective vision to reignite the interest of young people in participation and electoral processes. With Uganda’s 2026 general elections on the horizon, the project aimed to enhance the capacity of youth civil society organizations to provide civic information, engage youth through mobile applications, social media, and websites, and conduct training and dialogues on electoral processes.

Ms. Ruth Nagudi, the Projects’ Manager, emphasized the significance of involving the youth in shaping the nation’s political landscape. “More than 75% of Uganda’s population is under 35 years, making them a crucial entity of voters in any election,” she stated.

The Kushiriki Project sought to create a conducive electoral environment that upholds issue-based campaigns for free and fair electoral practices in Uganda. Ms. Evangilistar Nyiramahoro, the Programs Officer at PPI, highlighted the project’s goal to reignite youth civil society interest in engaging in the electoral process.

The collaborative endeavor involved Impact Unified, Media Focus on Africa Uganda, and the Public Policy Institute. The campaign targeted young people across the country, providing digital platforms as safe spaces for political discussions and debates. Trainings and dialogues were held in Central (Kampala, Wakiso, and Mukono), Eastern (Jinja), Western (Hoima), and West Nile (Arua).

The Kushiriki Dialogues, organized by Media Focus on Africa convened in Hoima on February 22nd and in Arua on February 23rd, 2024. These dialogues served as pivotal moments for youth empowerment, focusing on media literacy, civic engagement, and advocacy skills. By providing a platform for interactive learning and practical application, the dialogues aimed to equip youth with the tools and knowledge needed to engage effectively in their communities.


PROJECT ACTIVITIES

  • Content Development
  • App Design
  • Inception Meeting
  • Dialogues and Workshops

Inception Meeting

Media Focus on Africa (MFA) recently hosted a groundbreaking inception meeting on 6th September via Google Meet, marking the beginning of an ambitious media literacy initiative aimed at empowering Uganda’s youth, The Kushiriki project. The meeting gathered a diverse group of stakeholders, including representatives from organizations such as the African Youth Development Link (AYDL) and Sensitize Uganda, all passionate about youth development and media engagement.

Introductions revealed a wealth of expertise and dedication among the attendees, ranging from youth advocacy to electoral governance.

Wayombo Ema, representing Sequence Domain Solutions, expressed enthusiasm for learning about MFA’s initiatives, setting a tone of anticipation for the discussions ahead. Crispin Mutehimbwa, Executive Director of Sensitize Uganda, highlighted the organization’s focus on electoral governance and civic education, reinforcing the meeting’s relevance to pressing societal issues.

Key insights emerged as participants shared their organizational mandates and roles, underscoring the collective commitment to empowering Uganda’s youth. Ivan from the African Youth Involvement Link emphasized the importance of placing young people in decision-making spheres, aligning with the initiative’s goal of fostering youth participation in governance.

Onzima Rasul highlighted the mandate of Mayank Anti-Corruption Coalition, emphasizing the multifaceted approach to addressing societal challenges. The presence of esteemed leaders like Jan Ajwang further enriched the discussion, setting a collaborative tone for the meeting.

Ruth Nagudi, representing MFA, provided an overview of the organization’s mission to stimulate social change through media, outlining the objectives of the Kusiriki project. This innovative initiative aims to empower youth civil society organizations, promote civic information, and increase youth participation in elections.

Dr. Peter Kisakye, from the Public Policy Institute (PPI), elaborated on PPI’s role in fostering public policy research and engagement. Together with MFA, PPI received support from the Swedish Institute to convene dialogues on elections and governance ahead of the 2026 general elections in Uganda.

The meeting concluded with a clear roadmap for collaboration, emphasizing the importance of leveraging new media tools such as TikTok and Twitter to engage young people effectively. Training of trainers and interactive dialogues emerged as key strategies to strengthen civic competence and political accountability among Uganda’s youth.

Generally, the inception meeting served as a catalyst for collective action, uniting stakeholders in their commitment to empower Uganda’s youth through media literacy and civic engagement. As the initiative progresses, it holds the promise of shaping a future where informed and empowered youth actively contribute to the nation’s development and democratic processes.

 


APP DEVELOPMENT

The Kushiriki app stands as a beacon of empowerment for Uganda’s youth, offering a comprehensive platform for meaningful civic engagement and informed participation in the democratic process. Developed by Impact Unified AB in collaboration with partner organizations and supported by the Swedish Institute, the Kusiriki app represents a cutting-edge tool designed to bridge the gap between young citizens and essential electoral information.

At its core, Kushiriki embodies the Swahili concept of “Participation” or “sharing,” reflecting its mission to unite youth civil society organizations and engage young people in promoting a conducive electoral environment. Through intuitive design and user-friendly features, the app serves as a one-stop destination for accessing critical information on elections, governance, and political processes.

Key features of the Kusiriki app include:

  1. Comprehensive Electoral Resources: Users can access up-to-date information on electoral procedures, candidate profiles, manifestos, and voting guidelines, empowering them to make informed decisions during elections.
  2. Fact-Checking Tools: In an era of misinformation and disinformation, the app provides fact-checking resources to help users discern truth from falsehoods, promoting transparency and accountability in public discourse.
  3. Youth-Centric Content: Recognizing the importance of tailored content for young audiences, the app delivers engaging multimedia content, including videos, infographics, and interactive quizzes, to educate and inspire youth participation.
  4. Community Dialogues: Facilitating dialogue and collaboration, the app serves as a platform for organizing virtual and physical dialogues on elections and governance, fostering inclusive participation and civic engagement among diverse youth groups.

It is the Ugandan Election 2026 App. We are thrilled to introduce a groundbreaking platform that serves as a gateway to the general Ugandan election in 2026. Our app not only aims to educate users about democracy and service delivery but also tackles the critical issue of misinformation through an engaging game. Let’s delve deeper into the features and benefits of this innovative application.

The Ugandan Election 2026 App is designed to be an educational resource, providing users with a wealth of knowledge about elections.

Download the app via the following links:

iOS: https://apps.apple.com/se/app/kushiriki/id6447473663?l=en-GB

Android app: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ImpactUnified.Kushiriki

As Uganda prepares for the upcoming 2026 general elections, the Kusiriki app emerges as a powerful tool for empowering young citizens to become informed, engaged, and active participants in shaping the future of their nation. By leveraging the potential of technology and media, Kusiriki embodies a vision of democratic renewal and youth empowerment, paving the way for a more vibrant and inclusive democracy in Uganda.

Screenshots of the App

 


Hoima Dialogue Highlights:

Hosted at NAVODA (Navigators of Development Association), the Hoima dialogue drew together 30 enthusiastic participants from diverse youth organizations. The training agenda covered multifaceted topics, including the fundamental role of media in society, harnessing social media for advocacy, mechanisms for holding power to account, and strategies for combatting disinformation. Through a blend of informative lectures, engaging role-plays, and collaborative group discussions, participants were actively involved in exploring the nuances of media usage. Notably, discussions revealed that many participants were predominantly using media for entertainment rather than leveraging its potential for advocacy or accountability purposes. Consequently, the training pivoted towards empowering participants to embrace their roles as citizen journalists while upholding ethical journalistic standards such as accuracy, fairness, and transparency. Group activities encouraged participants to identify pressing community issues, select leaders for accountability, and strategize effective media channels for advocacy campaigns.

https://www.facebook.com/2072676282803258

Hoima Pictorial


 

Arua Dialogue Highlights:

Took place at the social center opposite the Inspector General of Government’s office in Arua City, the dialogue attracted a diverse cohort of 30 participants, including journalists and representatives from youth organizations. Mirroring the content of the Hoima dialogue, the training in Arua emphasized the strategic utilization of media for advocacy purposes. Many participants, particularly those from grassroots youth organizations, expressed initial apprehension about utilizing social media platforms for organizational communication and advocacy. However, their receptiveness to learning journalistic tools and effective communication strategies underscored the transformative potential of the training.

Key Outcomes:

  1. Heightened Awareness:

Participants developed a deeper appreciation for the pivotal role of media in shaping public discourse and driving social change.

  1. Empowerment:

Youth emerged from the dialogues with newfound confidence and skills to leverage media platforms for advocacy, accountability, and community engagement.

  1. Skill Enhancement:

Through hands-on activities and interactive sessions, participants honed practical skills in citizen journalism, media advocacy, and the discernment of disinformation.

  1. Positive Feedback:

Post-training evaluations illuminated a notable shift in participants’ attitudes towards media usage, with many expressing eagerness to harness its potential for positive impact in their communities.

The Kushiriki Dialogues in Hoima and Arua epitomized the power of collaborative learning and grassroots engagement in fostering media literacy and civic empowerment among youth. By equipping participants with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to navigate the media landscape effectively, these dialogues have laid a foundation for sustained advocacy, accountability, and social change in Uganda.

Arua Pictorial for the dialogues


Jinja Dialogue Highlights.

The dialogue aimed at enhancing media literacy, combating disinformation, and promoting civic engagement among Uganda’s youth. The initiative sought to equip young professionals and media practitioners with essential skills and knowledge on media, governance, accountability, and service delivery.

The dialogue commenced with a briefing session involving MFA, project partners, and Community Based Organizations (CBOs) representatives. Participants, drawn from various communities in Jinja and Iganga, engaged in a day-long training session covering diverse topics.

Key activities included:

  1. Briefing Session: MFA convened the first meeting with project partners and CBOs representatives, setting the stage for collaboration.
  2. Training: Participants underwent intensive training on media programs for social change, understanding the role of media, citizen journalism, media advocacy, ethics, and combating disinformation.
  3. Group Discussions: Interactive sessions allowed participants to delve into community issues, simulate press conferences, and explore avenues for media advocacy.
  4. Introduction to the Kushiriki App: The project team introduced the Kushiriki App, emphasizing its role in fostering youth participation and engagement through technology.

The training culminated in a comprehensive evaluation, gauging participants’ understanding of media-related concepts before and after the session. Feedback from attendees underscored the significance of the dialogue in enhancing their knowledge and skills.

The pre-and post-evaluation results revealed a significant improvement in participants’ awareness of media’s role in development, digital media utilization for social change, advocacy techniques, and understanding of disinformation’s impact on society.

Participants expressed satisfaction with the training, highlighting newfound insights into media advocacy, community engagement, and interview skills. Many pledged to leverage their enhanced knowledge to drive positive change in their communities.

Overall, the Jinja dialogue proved instrumental in equipping youth with the tools and understanding needed to navigate media landscapes effectively, advocate for societal issues, and contribute meaningfully to democratic processes.

Jinja Pictorial for Dialogues


GENERAL CONCLUSION

Through collaborative efforts and targeted interventions, initiatives like the Kushiriki Project continue to empower Uganda’s youth, fostering informed citizenship and active participation in governance and social development initiatives.

Utilizing new media platforms, including a dedicated mobile app, an interactive website, and various social media channels, the Kushiriki Project delivered precise and trustworthy information about Uganda’s elections. It fostered spaces for informed virtual dialogues, facilitating engagement among youth and civil society actors.

As we conclude the Kushiriki Project, we celebrate its impact in empowering Uganda’s youth for electoral engagement. Through innovative approaches and collaborative efforts, we have taken significant strides towards creating a more inclusive and participatory electoral process.

For additional information about the Kushiriki Project, please visit our website at www.mediafocusonafrica.org or contact Ruth at ruth@mediafocusonafrica.org or +256 782 081 922.

 

The Fireplace – Radio Drama Series

In the heart of the Rwenzori region, where a tapestry of tribal histories weaves a complex narrative, Media Focus on Africa (MFA) embarked on a poignant journey in 2019 to bridge divides that had lingered for five decades. This region, fraught with intertribal clashes between the Bakonzo, Bamba, and Batooro, had become synonymous with conflict, casting a shadow over cultural and media development.

Understanding the potential of culture and media as catalysts for conflict resolution, MFA initiated a groundbreaking project. The core objective was clear: to foster peace, reconciliation, and cultural harmony. With a focus on building the capacity of local media practitioners, the project delved into the realms of scriptwriting, video and audio film production, and the effective communication of culturally contextualized content across various media platforms.

This initiative was not merely about imparting skills; it was a holistic approach deeply rooted in the diverse cultures of the Rwenzori people. MFA recognized the power of storytelling, particularly through the medium of radio, to transcend boundaries and bring communities together.

As the capacity-building journey unfolded, culminating in the empowerment of the region’s media practitioners, a transformative endeavor took shape. The brainchild of this collective effort was the creation of ‘The Fire Place,’ a radio drama series with a profound historical inspiration.

The concept of ‘The Fire Place’ harkens back to a time when conflict resolution was an art woven into the fabric of community life. Elders and community members would gather around the warmth of the fireplace, discussing matters of importance. It served as a communal court, where disputes were deliberated upon, and the elders had the final say. This cultural practice, common to both the Batooro and the Bakonzo, became the thematic cornerstone of the radio drama series.

The radio waves became a conduit for change, echoing the sentiments of unity and understanding. ‘The Fire Place’ aimed not only to entertain but to rekindle the spirit of communal dialogue and resolution.

As we reflect on this transformative journey of 2019, we celebrate the resilience of the Rwenzori region and the profound impact of MFA’s commitment to fostering peace through media. The echoes of ‘The Fire Place’ continue to reverberate, reminding us that in the embrace of culture and the power of media, harmony can indeed rise from the ashes of conflict.

Embracing the Future: Uganda Media Week 2023 Explores Public Interest, AI, and the Evolution of Journalism

Set to take place from November 9th, 2023, the 5th Uganda Media Week Conference, hosted by Media Focus on Africa Uganda, promises an illuminating journey into the future of journalism. Under the theme “Public Interest, AI, and the Future of Journalism,” this conference is poised to revolutionize the landscape of media.

The event will convene a gathering of distinguished experts, influential voices, and industry insiders, fostering discussions around crucial topics. Panel discussions will explore the role of effective reporting in strengthening democratic accountability, creating an inclusive internet environment for women in media, deciphering the implications of AI in the realm of journalism, and confronting online gender-based violence.

Uganda Media Week 2023 is not just a conference; it’s an avenue for transformative conversations and knowledge exchange. Brace yourself for engaging dialogues that offer critical insights into the future of media and journalism in Uganda.

For more information please reachout to us via ruth@mediafocusonafrica.org

or Call +256393248341

ACT against Gender Based Violence Campaign

The campaign to raise more awareness against gender-based violence by reaching more audiences online was held on social media platforms-Facebook and Twitter. As a supplement to the project to Use media and dialogues to end gender-based violence against women and girls, the media campaign was an extension to spark positive debate about the emerging issues of Gender Based Violence. The social media campaign was built on three pillars.

  1. Abide by the law– Sensitizing the public about the national laws against Gender Based Violence
  2. Call for help– Encourage victims to seek help from the duty bearers, and witnesses of GBV to report cases of GBV
  3. Talk about it- Increase awareness against GBV by promoting dialogue on the subject on media platforms, community dialogues and creating content that promotes women’s and girls rights.

Impact

On twitter:

28 original Tweets about the campaign

2,439 impressions generated for the number of times the original tweets appeared

1,238 visits to the campaign posts

25 mentions

Facebook:

54,000 Paid Reach

13,000 Organic Reach

8,000 Viral

Using Media and Dialogue to fight against GBV against women and girls

MFA implemented a project to advance women’s human rights with a focus on ending Domestic violence and Gender Based Violence in the most affected regions in Uganda, through using media and dialogue. The project was in response to the reported significant increase violence against women and girls during COVID19 lockdowns. By May 2020 Uganda Police registered over 3000 cases of domestic violence against women and girls. Women facing GBV were even more accessible to their aggressors during the lockdown or as a consequence of restrictions.  In addition there was a notable rise in cases of defilement, rape and teenage pregnancies which shot up in the wake of the pandemic . With schools closed many young girls were exposed to unsafe conditions both at home and in their communities.MFA used media and dialogues in the most affected regions- Northern, Busoga and Western, to address the problem of Violence against Women and girls in those regions. Through community dialogues, radio skits and talk shows, there was a raise in awareness and increased understanding on women’s rights. The project also increased conversation on Gender Based Violence and discrimination against women and girls. By engaging leaders and duty bearers in these actions, there was enhanced accountability and follow up in upholding the rights of women, and promoting them. There was an increase of women’s voices in the media through use of dedicated media spaces on partner regional radio stations where women shared their experiences. MFA and partner community based organizations sensitized the public on the rights of woemen and girls, and rallied for support to end gender based violence.

Quotes:

“My neighbor would send her 13 year old daughter to look for food for the family because her husband had stopped her from working yet he was not providing for them.  The girl ended up sleeping with men for money, now she is pregnant. Who is to blame?” A participant in the community dialogue in Jinja.

“Poverty is the main cause of GBV here. We have a saying in lusoga that obwavu lumbe meaning poverty is death. Women despise their poor husbands, this angers the men into beating them up to humble them, “Samwiri Walube

“Women get loans to pay school fees for children while the men spend money in bars and on other women. The men turn off their phones and leave home till the wife borrows money to return the children to school.” Kasifa Kibirige, Vice chairperson for women

“Men give women money/capital for businesses but those refuse to contribute to the home even when the businesses are profiting. Instead, they save up and buy property like land and houses but do not contribute to the development of their marital homes. When men discover this they beat up their wives, “ Mujuni Steven a trader, LC finance

“Couples should solve problems from the bedroom first. The bedroom is the central office of the home. Families should also have weekly meetings between Children and parents. Listen to each other in the home.” Serugo Isma

“We had another successful radio talk show las night, more engaging this time with a good number of listeners calling in to report GBV cases they had witnessed in their communities.  On the panel we had a police Officer in charge of child protection and Family unit from Mbarara Central police station who took contacts of the callers to follow up on the cases brought forward on the show”, Juliet Rukwanzi, Project Officer, Integrated Community “Development Initiative (ICODI),Mbarara

“On Mighty Fire FM, very painful stories of defilement were shared by relatives of victims. A man who defiled an 11 year old nanny who had been brought by his wife to take care of their baby bribed the police with 4 million shillings and is a free man now. That is just one of the 15 cases shared by listeners on today’s show. The police officer has got some of their numbers to follow up on the cases.” Francis Watum , Talk show host, Mighty Fire FM, Kitgum

“Men would call in to discuss serious issues to advocate for women’s rights. While women would call in and laugh about issues like child marriages because some of them had been married off when they were still young. Female callers would blame the victim, even on issues like rape and defilement. We need to speak out more to empower women. Thank you Media Focus on Africa for supporting us on this show, we are getting somewhere with advocating for women’s rights.” Rosemary Wakesho, Programs Officer, Anti-Domestic Violence Center (ADOVIC),Jinja

 

Impact

5 community dialogues with 40 participants each.

9 radio presenters trained on producing edutainment programs for promoting social change

9 community based representatives training on conducting dialogues against GBV

“Speaking up against GBV publicly, and giving GBV victims’ voice is so fulfilling

Training Rural media Outlets and Female Practitioners on Media Viability

With support from DW Akademie, MFA trained representatives from Radio Pacis, Voice Of Karamoja, Mama FM, Voice Of Toro, Speak FM, Elgon FM, Etop Radio, Unity FM and Crooze FM. Participating radio representatives included news reporters and anchors, talk-show hosts, marketers and social media managers. With a special focus on female media practitioners, MFA facilitated online trainings to strengthen rural based journalists’ capacity in Media Viability and Innovation. The training aimed at promoting and increasing women’s skills in the use of new media technologies. After conducting a needs assessment survey, the training was segmented into three main areas of training were: Social media training, Gender sensitive reporting, and digital skills,  use of digital communication tools such as; Jam board, Menti.com, Padlet, Canva, Google Forms, free audio and photo editing softwaretools. articipants managed to obtain more than sufficient knowledge,training such as audience research, content development, empathy mapping to understand the needs of their audiences through developing personas, the use of a content calendar and the knowledge and ability to adapt their business model using the business model canvas.  The training was in response to the: digital skill gaps; challenges small and medium rural based media houses were facing in  adapting and integrating technology in their business.

“I came to this training with so many questions about Media Viability but now things are getting more interesting. Very impressed with the fact that Community engagement is at the core of what we do and that Data is the new currency.” Joshua Imalingat

“I enjoyed the first session when you delved on content creation before thinking of money,” Aaron Olao

“I can see now that Blogging and Vlogging can be done by women and men. Social Media can be used for more than just personal posting.” Dorcas

“I am dearly impressed by the different tools I can use to generate funds for my media house and individually as well. Thanks team” Emmy Daniel Ojara

“The business model stood out for me, I think things can work putting it into practice things can work

out well.” Gloria Lalam

“I am so glad that every end of the training day, I have new knowledge added. Joe Wacha

“With this knowledge, we are more focused and will discuss with senior management based on facts in order to argue our cases” Joseph Akiiso, Etop Radio

“I think I will never be the same again. with this training and all these tools I will be a digital expert soon”, Joshua Imalingat, station manager, Crooze FM

Impact

10 radio stations

30 radio presenters’ skills and knowledge strengthened  in producing content on women were strengthened.

Uganda Media Week 2022

 

Uganda Media Week is a multifaceted annual journalism event hosted by MFA since 2019. It is mainly made up of media trainings and dialogues aimed at contributing to professional journalism across multimedia platforms. The two main events are the pre-media week regional trainings, and the two-day Uganda Media Week Conference.

  1. Pre-Media Week regional trainings

With support from the African Digital Fund(ADRF)  through  Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), MFA held regional training for journalists on reporting on digital rights for marginalised persons. This was the 4th regional media training and dialogue ahead of the Uganda media week conference. Journalists from radio, print, television and online were trained on covering under reported stories on digital exclusion, digital security for media houses and journalists, and digital literacy. Rural based journalists in West Nile, Northern Uganda, and North Eastern Uganda benefited from the training. The training strengthened the knowledge and skills of journalists to report on the diverse digital divides in their regions.

Impact

  1. 1. A table showing number of trained journalists per region
Sub-region District Number of Participants Venue
West Nile Arua 22 Berry Cottages Hotel
Acholi Gulu 24 Bomah Hotel
Lango Lira 40 Gracious Palace Hotel
Karamoja Moroto 23 Leslona Hotel
Teso Soroti 32 Timisha Hotel
Fig Total 141

 

Fig 2. A table showing Gender representation of trained journalist per region

Sub region District Male Female Venue
West Nile Arua 16 6 Berry Cottages Hotel
Acholi Gulu 17 7 Bomah Hotel
Lango Lira 25 15 Gracious Palace Hotel
Karamoja Moroto 19 4 Leslona Hotel
Teso Soroti 22 10 Timisha Hotel
Total 99 42
Grand Total 141

Quotes

“I now understand the importance of including all voices especially of the marginalized persons in my community when reporting on digital developments. Usually, our stories focus on the digital developments and not the end user. Going forward, I will be more intentional about including voices rural women and persons living with disabilities when reporting on digital issues” Hellen Onepur, Reporter, Etop Radio

“Most of the journalists in rural areas lack digital skills to operate digital tools for news gathering. Rural based journalists are lagging behind on digital skills because most trainings target urban based journalists in the central region. Some journalists are technophobic, and prefer to continue using the old technology that they are used to.” Olandason Wandera, Reporter for New Vision in Karamoja

The high cost of data bundles has compelled some journalists to limit their practice to reporting for radio rather than reporting for online news platforms or print that requires one to continuously file stories via email or uploading them to the news websites. Majority of the rural based media houses do not provide internet services for the employees so the journalists have to improvise by buying their own data.” Felix Warom, Bureau Chief Daily Monitor West Nile.

 

  1. Uganda Media Week Conference

On the 3rd and 4th of November 2022, Media Focus on Africa held the fourth Uganda Media Week Conference themed Journalism, innovation and the future. The annual conference brought together key actors in Uganda’s media industry-news editors and reporters owners, regulators, and support organizations.  to reflect on the challenges facing the industry and deliberated together to find workable solutions. The conference comprised of panel discussions, keynote conversations, presentations and debates on key issues in the journalism industry. Topics discussed include – safety for journalists, women in media, local news, and innovations in media. 65 participants attended the conference on Thursday 3rd, and 69 on Friday 4th November 2022.  The conference is supported by Deustche Welle (DWA), United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR), and Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA).

Quotes

“We are faced by perpetrators who are trying to take away our space and to sabotage our work. We also need to do our part because we are quickly being replaced by non-journalists who have got the tools.  Anybody with a smartphone can broadcast or publish a story from wherever they are,” Joachim Buwembo

“What exactly does it mean to be relevant? It also goes back to the question I asked in the 2021(Uganda Media Week) conference, that what is the difference between journalism and media? Everybody feels like they are a journalist as long as they have a phone and can record something and share it, which is really our typical definition of Journalism. The citizen is the journalist now, so what difference then does the trained journalists make?  What difference are we making as trainers, why should somebody be in my class for three years to earn a degree in journalism if they’re going to compete for space with somebody who didn’t need a primary seven school certificate to be able to use tick tock?” Dr. Emilly Maractho

“About two or three years ago two years ago, we were having a Uganda Media Week Conference   like this and in the room there were people media owners who believed that having women in the Newsroom was quite expensive. They presented practical explanations like when she gets pregnant and goes on maternity leave you have to keep her on payroll. That is why MFA has partnered with DWA to train different media houses on implementing Gender sensitive media policies ”Jan Ajwang

Using media and dialogue to fight against Gender Based Violence against Women and girls.

MFA partnered with Urgent Action fund to fight GBV against women and girls using media and dialogue in the most affected regions in Uganda. Community Based Organization representatives, and journalists were trained to facilitate dialogues, produce content and host talk shows on GBV. To raise awareness and understanding of women’s rights in Uganda’s in North, Eastern, and Western Uganda, radio skits were produced in local languages and broadcast on the regional radio stations. This was accompanied by community dialogues were held with community leaders, and an online advocacy campaign. Through engaging leaders and duty bearers, the project promoted more accountability in upholding the rights of women and girls, and promoting them.

The project called for action against violence against women and girls sensitized women on their rights, created platforms to share their stories, increased voices of women in media, rallied support and put the GBV at the center of the conversation.

Impact / Facts and figures

12 radio play skits produced in local languages, 18 radio talk shows against gender based violence- with key stakeholders – victims, duty bearers, CSO representatives, 6 CSO representatives trained, 9 radio presenters trained to present and produce content on GBV, 6 community dialogues using the radio skits to raise awareness and promote respect for women’s rights and raise local ambassadors against GBV in the community, 1 Communications and advocacy campaign online, 3 regions reached, 128  participants in the community dialogues.

Quotes

“Male callers would discuss serious issues about women’s rights while most female would laugh about issues like child marriages because some of them had been married off when they were still young. In most cases, the callers blamed the GBV victim portrayed in the drama skit, even on issues like rape and defilement. There is need to speak out more against GBV.” Rosemary Wakesho, Programs Officer, Anti-Domestic Violence Center (ADOVIC),Jinja

“We had successful radio talk shows with listeners calling in to report GBV cases they had witnessed in their communities.  On the panel we had a police Officer in charge of child protection and Family unit from Mbarara Central police station who took contacts of the callers to follow up on the cases brought forward on the show”, Juliet Rukwanzi, Project Officer, Integrated Community “Development Initiative (ICODI),Mbarara

“On Mighty Fire FM, very painful stories of sexual violence were shared by relatives of victims. A story about a man who molested an 11 year old nanny who had been brought by his wife to take care of their baby bribed the police with 4 million shillings and is a free man now. That is just one of the 15 cases shared by listeners. The police officer has got their contacts for follow up.” Francis Watum , Talk show host, Mighty Fire FM, Kitgum

Training Rural media Outlets and Female Practitioners on Media Viability

With support from DW Akademie, MFA trained representatives from Radio Pacis, Voice Of Karamoja, Mama FM, Voice Of Toro, Speak FM, Elgon FM, Etop Radio, Unity FM and Crooze FM.

Management across the different departments and women in media To deliver three online trainings teaching Media Viability and Innovation to 10 rural media outlets with a special focus on female media practitioners. To promote and increase women’s skills in the use of new media technologies and to reach more audiences. Social media training for 20 participants (journalists, talk-show hosts, marketers and social media managers etc) using social media to grow audiences and increase revenues.The target audience for the project were; community media managers, female media practitioners and female journalists and innovators. The module included a basic needs assessment survey conducted by MFA. In addition, a pre-and post-

survey was conducted for training to understand the knowledge and level of expertise of participants. The pre-survey allowed us to identify the large gaps in understanding Media Viability (MV); lack of knowledge and skills to include digitization; severe lack of gender sensitivity in reporting and lack of women in the overall business structures and culture in and overtly male dominant media landscape. As a result of the outcomes of the survey, it became apparent that the digital transition in Uganda has been a very slow. Small and medium size rural based media houses were struggling to adapt and integrate technology. Furthermore, it clearly identified the huge skills gap and lack of knowledge for media managers and practitioners from top to bottom. The digital disruption on top of Covid 19 impacted radio stations negatively especially financially as well as operations. Stations had to adapt to remote work and work from home but didn’t have the capacity, resources and equipment to facilitate the needs of their staff.

Overall, the topics covered in training were new to the vast majority of participants which created an excitement and hunger to learn new skills and increase their knowledge.

  •  Online sessions were based on human centered designed thinking and prototyping.
  • The basic structure of the training were trainer and trainee centered including PPT and video presentations, print media, Q and A, feedback sessions and practical group work, knowledge sharing and examples of innovation from other media.
  • The online training consisted of eight bi-weekly virtual sessions using Zoom video conferencing.
  • WhatsApp was used as a secondary group communication tool and follow up for trainers, participants and project management. The WhatsApp group is still active at the request of the participants to allow ongoing networkingand have access to trainers. All training was interactive and held synchronously in plenary and small groups for practical work focused on developing strategy and finding solutions. The online training included elements of A-synchronous work that individuals had to complete as offline assignments.

Training also included introduction and use of various free digital collaboration and communication tools such as; Jam board, Menti.com, Padlet, Canva, Google Forms.  Participants were introduced to free audience survey tools such as; Survey Monkey, Type Form, Google Forms and various other forms that include analytical capabilities.

Participants were introduced to various free video editing, audio editing, photo editing and text tools to support them in becoming more effective and efficient in their daily work and support working remotely.

Overview:

The invitation for stations to participate in this series of training was met with a high level of excitement and expectation for learning new skills and creating financial sustainability. The initial online briefing to introduce the training had a total of more than 50 participants in attendance including station managers and departmental managers across the board. The training that was conducted were planned for 20 participants but we ended up with 40 people on day one. Participants stayed consistently throughout the training with an average of 36 participants daily.

Group sessions were highly interactive and engaging and offline work was done with much enthusiasm and zest. All training consisted of 50% women with a high level of participation from female media practitioners in addition to the only women owned radio station manager; a 2nd female station manager in addition to 4 women in senior management positions. The formal and informal feedback from participants were overwhelmingly positive. Participants expressed an eagerness to continue to learn more. The pre-and post- survey decidedly showed most of the topics covered were largely new to them. Participants managed to obtain more than sufficient knowledge,

 

For information and skills to pursue the subjects further and apply them in their daily work. Several of the managers communicated their eagerness to use the tools and models introduced during the course of the training such as audience research, content development, empathy mapping to understand the needs of their audiences through developing personas, the use of a content calendar and the knowledge and ability to adapt their business model using the business model canvas. Furthermore, as training was happening participants started sharing new knowledge and tools to staff at their own radio stations.

Participant Feedback: (comments from each of the eight training sessions)

  1.  From Joshua Imalingat: I came to this training with so many questions about this animal called Media Viabilitybut now things are getting more interesting. Very impressed with the fact that Community engagement is at the core of what we do and that Data is the new currency.
  2.  From Bettie Mujungu: This is really resourceful for our specific programs on the radio and online audiences. I see how much content we have generated on just one person’s story. And usually in our communities there same issues of address.
  3. From Hellen Aguyo Okello: the training was resourceful, linking content to social media and relating this to income generation stood out for me.
  4. From Joshua Imalingat: Well I would only want to thank you for taking us through the steps because I suppose on my side I would said it is the first time am seeing such a thing as taking us through the entire process of organizing a zoom meeting. Often times we have just landed in…boom intro.. expectations and kaboom… we move on. nothing like this. It Hasn’t been a waste of time for time. I will be available for all the sessions.������
  5. From Egonda Emmanuel: wow this is great guidance for online meetings. You really opened up my mind. Am thinking online meetings are the way to go asopposed to F2F meetings. Online meetings however require total concentration. Covid appears to be a blessing in disguise with the way organizations are communicating and meeting. Thanks.

 

  1. From Betty mujungu: the audience engagement, Empathy Map and persona. it's been a really engaging session
  2. From Agnes Etadu: Thank you Eva for this wonderful Training, for me today what stood out is various business models we as a radio station can adopt to generate revenue for the station. But importantly I took a lesson from your quote this morning "Go to the organization with an idea of how to solve their problem" not the other way round
  3. From Emmanuel: If media managers take this presentation serious, we can actually help our organizations to take on their competitors both business wise and improving listenership numbers. Thanks Eva for this presentation.
  4. From Kajumba Gorret: CONTENT DEVELOPMENT IS THE BEST THING BUT NEEDS TIME AS IT IS A PROCESS.
  5. From Dorothy Ainembabazi: I believe that audience research is good to go. I hope companies and radio stations can pick up.
  6. From Aaron Olao: I enjoyed the first session when you delved on content creation before thinking of money.
  7. From Catherine Apalat: The in-depth persona analysis was my Aha moment.
  8. From Kajumba Gorret: importance of engaging audience
  9. “I can see now that Blogging and Vlogging can be done by women and men. Social Media can be used for more than just personal posting.” Dorcas.
  10. “I am dearly impressed by the different tools I can use to generate funds for my media house and individually as well. Thanks team” Emmy Daniel Ojara
  11. “The business model stood out for me today, but i think by putting it into practice things can work out well.” Gloria Lalam
  12. I am so glad that every end of the training day, I have new knowledge added. Joe Wacha
  13. From Joseph Akiiso: With this knowledge, we are more focused and will discuss with senior management based on facts in order to argue our cases.
  14. From Joshua Imalingat: Eva this is great. I think I will never be the same again. with this training and all these tools Iwill be a digital expert soon.

Impact

10 radio stations, 30 radio presenters’ skills and knowledge in producing content on women were strengthened.

Rural Based Journalists trained on digital inclusion reporting for marginalized groups of people

141 rural based journalists in five subregions in Northern and Eastern Uganda were trained to effectively report on digital inclusion for the vulnerable groups of people. Editors, and reporters working with Print, radio, television, and online news platforms attended the trainings held in Arua, Gulu , Lira, Moroto and Soroti districts. The training sessions tackled under coverage of stories on digital exclusion among vulnerable groups of people like rural women, persons living with disabilities, illiterates, and the youth. Among other topics discussed in the training were-Digital security for media houses and journalists, and digital literacy for rural based journalists. The training was aimed at promoting the role of professional journalism in establishing and sustaining digital inclusion for marginalized people in the rural areas of Uganda, by  increasing stories reported on digital exclusion of marginalized groups of people. The training was conducted by Media Focus on Africa with support from the Africa Digital Rights Fund through CIPESA.n

Felix Warom, chief of Bureau of Daily Monitor in West Nile said that his team will be more intentional about featuring stories on digital exclusion of vulnerable people in the news. He called upon journalists to get out of their reporting comfort zones by reaching out to the marginalized groups of people for their views on the ongoing digital developments. Mr. Warom was among the journalists trained to report on digital inclusion.

Joseph Akiiso  of Etop radio said that the digital inclusion training  has not only improved the way the radio station involves women in their programming, it has greatly supported the way their female journalists report and present the news.

“Our female journalists have become content creators and distributors. Their earnings have improved and they have become competitive in the job market. We have prepared our female journalists for the future, since digital media is the future and the future is now.” Says Joseph Akiiso

“Digital inclusion was a subject I avoided to report about because it was so complex. This training has opened my eyes to the stories all around us and how to make those stories relatable to the audiences and the duty bearers.”   Timothy Eodu, reporter Karamoja News

This training was the 4th edition of the Uganda Media Week regional media trainings and dialogues held annually in the key cities across the country, to refresh the reporting skills of journalists on specific issues.  Previous topics covered in the regional media trainings include reporting on; elections, accountability, gender sensitive reporting, post covid recovery of media houses

Trainers

Media Focus on Africa collaborated with United Nations Capital Development Fund to produce training content and materials. Previously the two organizations worked together to train journalists online about covering digital inclusion in Uganda. UNCDF’s Steven Waiswa joined MFA’s Jan Ajwang and Ruth Nagudi facilitated training the training sessions.

Stephen Waiswa, UNCDF’s Regional Technical Specialist- Digital Financial services (East & southern Africa) defined the complex terms like digitization, digital divide, digitalization, digital transformation, digital inclusiveness, and digital economies. In his presentation, he Contextualized digital transformation in Uganda and the importance of digital inclusion. Mr. Waiswa elaborated the implications of digital transformation, existing digital gaps and made recommendations on how they can be filled.

Jan Ajwang, Media Focus on Africa’s Project Manager handled topics on identifying marginalized groups of people, digital safety for media houses and journalists, reporting stories on digital exclusion across multimedia platforms. In her presentation, she demonstrated how journalists can leverage one story to increase audiences across multimedia platforms, and how the stories can be written to compel action from the duty bearers.

Ruth Nagudi, Projects Coordinator facilitated an interactive session on Story ideas of underreported stories on digital exclusion of marginalized groups of people. Participants were divided into 4 groups to discuss and present on the Strengths, Weaknesses , Opportunities and Threats to digital inclusion in Uganda.  After participants’ presentations, Ms. Nagudi facilitated the session on how journalists could turn SWOT analysis into stories that could increase reporting on digital inclusion

Hindrances to reporting news stories on digital inclusion

Journalists pointed out structural, infrastructural, skills and illiteracy related obstacles as the main hinderances to effective coverage of stories on digital inclusion. Among other key reasons for not reporting on digital exclusion are fear of media houses losing their main advertisers- telecommunications companies and government bodies who are directly related to the infrastructural imbalances. Journalists are not in position to independently report on such exclusions by people based in remote rural areas because the story involves an advertiser on their media platforms.

Digital exclusion stories new government initiatives that require registration of beneficiaries online, a journalist shared an example difficulty to register for parish model registration in Agago district and other remote areas partly due to lack of internet to connect to the registration system, and when the smart phone batteries run out there is no electricity to recharge the registration devices.

Relatedly, news stories exposing gaps in digital interventions by government cannot be broadcast or published because most of the media houses are owned by the members of the ruling political party (National Resistance Movement). The media owners are either Members of parliament or former ministers.

High cost of media tools has digitally marginalized the journalists. A basic photo camera costs a minimum of one million Uganda Shillings, while a video camera costs over two million shillings, amounts that are much higher than what rural based journalists earn from journalism. Most journalists cannot afford to buy their own gadgets like cameras, laptops, and voice recorders to aid them in collecting stories. Rural based media houses have limited gadgets that have to be shared by all the journalists. For example, West Nile Press Association has one desktop that is shared by all the journalist members who do not have personal laptops. Despite the increase in alternative cheaper smart phones on the market, some journalists revealed that they took long to own smart phones because they had to save for them for a long time, others did not own smart phones at the time of the training. Lack of access to news collecting tools is a huge obstacle to reporting on digital exclusion.

The high cost of data bundles has compelled some journalists to limit their journalism practice to reporting for radio rather than reporting for online news platforms or print that requires one to continuously file stories via email or uploading them to the news websites. Majority of the rural based media houses do not provide internet services for the employees so the journalists have to improvise by buying their own data. Daily data bundles cost between five hundred Uganda shillings to five thousand Uganda shillings while the monthly data bundles start from five thousand Uganda shillings to one hundred and fifty thousand shillings.

The transport facilitation availed to journalists enable them to cover stories closer to their media houses. They cannot travel to news sources in remote areas, or to those far from their media houses. This has further marginalized voices of the marginalized groups of people in the news. Journalists continue to prioritize voices of politicians, leaders and professionals as news sources while ignoring voices of marginalized groups of people. Hellen Onepur, a news reporter and talk show host pointed out that journalists need to go an extra mile to find rural women news sources by finding them in the gardens or in their kitchens at home.

Cultural structures that continue to marginalize women, and persons with disabilities. It was reported by some journalists that women decline to participate in news or dialogues without having permission form their husbands.

Language barrier between journalists and persons living with disability, in this case the deaf. Among the 141 journalists trained, none had knowledge nor experience with sign language. A Lira based news reporter for online news platform pointed out the need for media houses to facilitate sign language interpreters whenever journalists are interviewing deaf news sources.

Some journalists lack digital skills to operate digital tools for news gathering. Rural based journalists are lagging behind on digital skills because most trainings target urban based journalists in the central region. Some journalists are technophobic, and prefer to continue using the old technology that they are used to. It’s worse for the marginalized groups of people who have never gained exposure to devices like computers nor smart phones. Most of who are illiterate lessens their chances of digital literacy which requires possession basic reading and writing skills.

Participating journalists made recommendations of topics they would like to be trained on; more sessions on digital safety, mobile phone reporting, access to information and how to generate revenue through reporting on digital inclusion

From the journalists’ responses to the post evaluation form, it is clear that more trainings in digital inclusion and rights are needed to empower journalists to increase reporting on digital issues. This can be achieved through designing trainings to focus on specific marginalized groups of people and their digital needs. Journalists also expressed the need for digital mentorship sessions, and training of trainers from different newsrooms. WhatsApp groups were created to keep the conversation going, and to share stories on digital inclusion.

 

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