World Radio Day is a fitting day to announce our partnership with Lifeline Energy. HODI and Lifeline Energy are teaming up to bring a comprehensive audio learning initiative using their solar and wind-up Lifeplayer MP3s to support the vulnerable nomadic and pastoral communities that we serve.  The Lifeplayer MP3 is the first power-independent media player, radio and recorder ever engineered for the humanitarian sector and harsh climated. The project is called Audio Learning in Kenya (ALIK) and our proud and hardworking communities will be able to access age and gender appropriate content in their own languages and at their convenience.

ALIK is launching later this year in Marsabit which is very sparsely populated and has more livestock than people.  Bordering Ethiopia, its population is less than 300,000, the majority of whom are pastoralists. This makes service delivery of health, water, sanitation and education immensely challenging.

“We are delighted to be working with HODI,” said Kristine Pearson, Lifeline Energy’s CEO.  “HODI really understands and is deeply respected by the communities they serve.  We think our Lifeplayer MP3s will be able to provide much-needed educational support to underserved schools and practical information to pastoral communities.”

Why this project is important

Marsabit County has a high dependence on external relief due to a combination of factors – harsh living conditions, protracted droughts, a woeful lack of investment in education and health from the central government, and physical distance and political isolation from the capital Nairobi.  Only recently was a paved highway completed.  At HODI we are changing the narrative by building resilient communities through Mala Marii, a tested community dialogue process that puts women in the lead.

Historically, women, youth and children have minimal participation in development and decision-making. Socio-economic, cultural and religious biases, whether Muslim or Christian, have relegated females to the periphery. They have been subjected to retrogressive cultural practices like female genital mutilation (FGM), early forced marriage, and a profound lack of access to education, health care and other services.  Literacy levels for women are extremely low, an estimated 10%.

Despite what you might read, both cell phone and radio ownership is low. Internet penetration is negligible. In nomadic communities, which are usually made up of between 60 and 75 families, there may be one or two working radio sets and maybe three shared cell phones.  Almost always, these are the property of men. In many parts of the county, cell phone coverage is non-existent.

Who the project will serve

Working with and in the communities we serve and have strong relationships with, ALIK will encompass three focused initiatives for three groups – school children, women and men.  Each group will receive Lifeplayers pre-loaded with content relevant to them.

Schools – Called SoundStart, Lifeplayers will be placed in primary schools starting from pre-school, which is a Kenyan government priority.  Even mobile schools in nomadic pastoralist communities moving with their livestock will benefit.  Hiring and retaining trained teachers, who also speak local languages, is not easy. Lifeplayers will be loaded with curriculum content to a school’s specific needs in a language understood by students. Schools may request Swahili or English language instruction. SoundStart will help to bridge the educational gap in these under-resourced, often remote schoools.

Women  Called Her Voice, Lifeplayers will provide women groups with content relevant for them.  Many of the groups participate in the HODI Saving Scheme which has enabled them to start small-scale busineses, but many women are illiterate. Content will include literacy, numeracy, health, hygiene, mother and baby care and discussing traditional practices harmful to women. The Lifeplayer will enable women to listen and discuss both prerecorded content and radio programmes when it’s convenient for them.  They are also interested in creating their own content as well as recording radio shows, which they can do with the Lifeplayer.

Men – Called Voice of the Elders–  The elders still hold a very important place in the pastoralist communities and this is a recognition of the social groups that will support the foundation of the Lifeplayer programs.  Male groups will have their own Lifeplayers loaded with content on livestock management, health, business development skills, literacy, numeracy and much more.

The project will be coordinated by HODI through our Marsabit-based team.  We believe that with our comprehensive approach to sustainable development in building resilient communities, coupled with Lifeline’s technology, ALIK will help fill a huge need void for education and information, help mitigate poverty and improve the quality of people lives.

Please consider supporting this innovative and high-impact initiative for marginalized communities in Marsabit County.

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