31st – Machakos

Meeting University Students and the Community

At Machakos University we had a meeting with a few of the professors and Prof. Joyce Agalo who is the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs, she also happens to be Jerry’s wife! The meeting was quite formal and covered the potential partnership between Machakos and Brighton University, like the one with Rongo. They all seemed eager to set up the programme!

We then had a quick tour of some of the campus and met the students who wanted to be part of the community radio programme. A lot of them are majoring in other subjects such as education or history but also take journalism. They showed us a scheme they have started that aiming to reduce climate change through planting trees and planting them in different locations, this will also aid in educating the wider community on the issues of climate change and the importance of stopping it. They also showed us a room which they are planning to use for the university radio station.

After that we all got onto the university bus and drove to the village that was put forward for the CM4K project. Once we arrived, we received the warmest welcome we had got so far – which is saying a lot!! A group of women, all dressed in the most amazing colourful fabrics, came to the bus, and performed a dance and sang as they welcomed us to their village, which they continued even as we walked to our seats. It also looked like the whole village and surrounding area had come for the event.

One key issue faced by this community was drought. On the drive in the failing crops could be seen in the fields. Apparently, the main river they used as their water source had been polluted with sewage waste. And the three smaller rivers that converge had basically dried up. The community were proposing an irrigation dam that would be a potential solution to the problem, as people are having to travel in search of water.

Along with issue, other topics and challenges were discussed at the event. One woman even presented some objects and tools that used to be used by the community members in the past, it was great to learn more about the culture and history here!

Meeting with Government Officials

We travelled back to the university campus for dinner before going off again to meet the local government where we shared our thoughts on community media and community radio in particular.

It was pretty intimidating at first, as they asked us a very broad question that was basically asking us for a solution to the issues that the community members were facing. We’d only met these people and heard about their lives that day! Joakim opened the discussion brilliantly by stating that we had only been there for a few hours and couldn’t possibly begin to fully understand the perfect solution. But what we do know, from the past two weeks, are the benefits that community radio can have on a community. We discussed the idea of a partnership between the university students and the community members as the students were very keen to get into media and journalism. There was also the discussion of the dam, drought, and possible treatment for the sewage waste filled river.

The meeting ended and the governors decided to support the community radio scheme and discuss potential environmental solutions for the drought. It was a great way to end the project and trip as a whole because this felt like the most productive thing that we had done so far. Having actually met with officials and discussed potential changes felt really good, I think that was what was missing slightly when we were working with Cham Gi Wadu.

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