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Farm Radio Weekly is a news and information service for rural radio broadcasters in sub-Saharan Africa. It is published by Farm Radio International.

Issue #99

Welcome to all!

This week we are delighted to greet the following new FRW subscribers: Jean-Pierre Boussim, from Radio Paglayiri in Burkina Faso; Daniel Fouzong, Fozo Abongwa, Martial Gnouka Pasir, and Ambe MacMillian, all from Afrique Nouvelle FM in Cameroon; Rasid Lwasa, from Prime Radio in Uganda; and Songolo Akakandekwa, from National Agricultural Information Services in Zambia.

This week, both of our news stories come from Kenya and highlight two important issues that may resonate with rural radio listeners in all parts of Africa. Our first story is about a landmark ruling by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, in favour of the Endorois people of Kenya’s Rift Valley. Read the story to learn how these indigenous people were marginalized for decades, and about a video that allowed their voices to be heard and their land rights restored. Our second story describes an initiative that broke down obstacles to small-scale sunflower farmers – such as access to information and markets – all with the use of SMS messages transmitted over cellular phones.

In the Upcoming Events section, you’ll find a call for nominations to a major award for outstanding women journalists; in the Radio Resource Bank, you’ll discover an online learning tool for journalists who want to understand the connection between climate change and humanitarian emergencies.

Finally, we offer you another chance to contribute to the 100th edition of FRW, which will be published next week. Last week, we invited you to tell us about your favourite FRW story to date. You are still welcome to do so, by e-mailing FRW Editor Heather Miller at hmiller@farmradio.org. In this week’s Farm Radio Action section, we invite you to share a favourite online resource.

Happy reading!

-The Farm Radio Weekly Team

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In this week’s Farm Radio Weekly:

African Farm News in Review

1. Kenya: Indigenous people will return to traditional home following landmark ruling (Centre for Minority Rights Development, WITNESS, Catholic Information Service for Africa)

2. Kenya: Farmers link to markets through SMS (Farm Radio Weekly, Flooded Cellar Productions)

Upcoming Events

-March 5, 2010: Deadline to apply for Courage in Journalism Awards

Radio Resource Bank

-E-learning course on reporting climate change and humanitarian emergencies

Farm Radio Action

-Share your favourite online resource

Farm Radio Script of the Week

-Balancing the interests of wildlife and rural communities: Lessons from Buabeng-Fiema monkey sanctuary in Ghana

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1. Kenya: Indigenous people will return to traditional home following landmark ruling (Centre for Minority Rights Development, WITNESS, Catholic Information Service for Africa)

Richard Arap Yegon uses a wooden walking stick to gesture at the terrain around him. He points to the lake that spreads into the distance. Lake Bogoria is a body of water dotted with pink flamingos. “That is where the sun rises,” Mr. Yegon says. “We belong to the eastern part,” he adds.

Mr. Yegon is speaking about his people, the Endorois. They are a semi-nomadic people who make their living as pastoralists. Mr. Yegon’s people called the land around Lake Bogoria home until the 1970s. Then, the Kenyan government decided to turn the area into a tourist attraction. The Endorois were evicted from their land.

For decades, the story of the Endorois went unheard. Only in recent years has their tale of expulsion been documented. In fact, video documentation became key evidence in a hearing by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Earlier this month, the commission made its ruling. In a landmark decision, it found the eviction of the Endorois to be a violation of their human rights. It ordered the Kenyan government to restore the Endorois to their land and compensate them for their loss.

Now, Endorois people like Mr. Yegon and Kipchumba Kibon look forward to returning to their traditional homeland. Mr. Kibon is a younger man. He only knows what older members of his community have told him about their land. There was plenty of grass for grazing and natural salt to promote animal health.

In the decades that the Endorois were forced to live elsewhere, they had no dry-season pasture for their cattle. Near Lake Bogoria, they managed their livestock by moving to more fertile areas during the dry season. Forced to live in more harsh terrain, the livestock starved.

An Endorois woman laments that the cattle were so weak they cannot stand on their own. Every morning, they had to be helped to stand. The poor health of the cattle translated into poor health for the community. With much less meat and milk, the Endorois lacked both food and income. At times, they have relied on food aid. Water was also more difficult to come by. Women walked up to 20 kilometres each day to collect water.

The court ruling will not only restore the Endorois people to their traditional lands and livelihoods. They will also receive a substantial portion of tourism revenue earned at Lake Bogoria.

Korir Singo’ei is Director of the Centre for Minority Rights Development. His organization documented the Endorois story, with the support of the NGO, WITNESS. He says the ruling is important for all African indigenous peoples. In particular, it challenges Kenya’s Trust Lands Act. This act puts the government in charge of lands used communally by pastoralists and other indigenous people. This means the government, and not the people, decide how land may be used.

Following the commission’s ruling, Mr. Singo’ei expects many indigenous groups to come forward and claim their land rights. He says his organization would like to work with the government to reform the law and move forward.

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2. Kenya: Farmers link to markets through SMS (Farm Radio Weekly, Flooded Cellar Productions)

Bishop Joseph G. Gathonjo presses three- five- five- five on the worn-out keypad of his blue and grey Nokia phone. By texting these numbers, Bishop Gathonjo answered “yes” to the question, “Have the seeds germinated?” His text response is part of his farmer organization’s involvement in a project called The DrumNet.

DrumNet is an SMS-based support service for small-scale farmers. It aimed to improve farmer access to agricultural information, markets and loans in order to boost agricultural productivity.

Dr. Julius Okello is a researcher at the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Kenya. He worked on the DrumNet project. He explains that farmers involved in the initiative were introduced to sunflower farming. In order to grow and sell sunflowers, the farmers needed information and suppliers. DrumNet connected farmers to good seed suppliers and buyers, all through text messaging.

The project started by organizing farmers into a group. The group was entered into the DrumNet system and farmers were sent an SMS informing them that they were members of the project. As members, they could access inputs such as sunflower seeds. The farmers were also given technical advice via their mobile phones. At planting time, farmers received an SMS asking, “Have you planted yet?” The farmers texted or called back to say “yes” or “no.” Each farmer spent one Kenyan shilling to send an SMS.

Farmers received additional information at different points in the growing season. They received messages reminding them to weed and asking them if they had harvested their sunflowers. Dr. Okello says the text messages acted as a reminder for the farmers. It also allowed DrumNet to keep track of what was going on in the field. The biggest problem for the farmers was bats eating the sunflowers. So, the farmers were sent an SMS asking, “Are you chasing the bats?”

Every farmer in the project also opened a bank account. The bank provided them with loans to purchase inputs. They were also linked to a buyer, giving them access to a reliable market that paid a good price. All this was achieved through mobile phones.

The farmers earned more money because they were better linked to markets and didn’t have to deal with intermediaries. An evaluation of the DrumNet project showed that the farmers also had better access to food and medical care, and were better able to pay their children’s school fees.

Though the DrumNet project ended last year, many farmers are still very excited about the opportunities that SMS technology has created. The buyers they connected with through DrumNet continue to purchase from them. In some cases, buyers have offered the farmers agricultural financing, all through their continued use of SMS.

Ellyphalet Osuri Omoro is a farmer in Nyanza province who participated in DrumNet as part of the Kinyanya Farmers Group. He says farmers are very happy with what DrumNet has allowed them to do. He explains: “Once our first harvest was collected, our registered numbers doubled.” As a result of the project, many other farmers want to register with the Kinyanya group and to grow sunflower too.

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Notes to broadcasters on indigenous land rights:

In an interview with Farm Radio Weekly, Korir Singo’ei, the Director of the Centre for Minority Rights Development (CEMIRIDE), said that a video featuring the voices of displaced Endorois people was a key piece of evidence at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights hearing. Mr. Singo’ei said the video captured everyone’s attention and helped to prove the Endorois people’s historic connection to the land near Lake Bogoria.

You can view both this video as well as an advocacy video entitled “Rightful Place,” both produced by CEMIRIDE with the support of WITNESS, on this website:

You may also wish to review these past FRW stories dealing with indigenous and traditional land rights:
-“Uganda: Indigenous people fight for land lost to carbon credit scheme” (FRW# 80, September 2009)
-“Kenya: Fifty years after independence, families finally have land to call their own” (FRW# 73, July 2009)
-“Southern Africa: Farm workers become farm owners” (FRW# 69, June 2009)
-“Namibia: Bushmen return to ancestral lands” (FRW# 49, December 2008)

Here are some ideas for related local stories:
-Are there peoples in your country who were displaced by former regimes and who are now resettled, or wish to resettle, on ancestral lands?
-Are there national laws, policies and procedures to return land to those who have been displaced? If so, are they being implemented? If not, why not?
-If peoples have been resettled, through what process did they obtain the right to return to the land?
-What challenges did the people face after resettlement and how did they overcome them?
-If people have been resettled on farmland, do they have the skills and financial resources to make a living as farmers? Have retraining programs been put in place? What national or local organizations – governmental or NGOs – are working on this issue?
-Are resettled people discarding traditional land uses in favour of new uses? If so, why?
-If legal proceedings are underway to resolve a land claim, what are some of the arguments being considered?

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Notes to broadcasters on agriculture and mobile technologies:

Linking smallholder farmers to better markets, especially better-paying produce markets ? that’s the reason that the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) is expanding in agriculture. A number of ICT initiatives are popping up in African countries. The idea is to use mobile phones to resolve some of the constraints farmers face. Constraints include: poor access to information and technical advice, and insufficient access to input markets and well-paying produce markets.

Cell phones can save farmers time and money when they send and receive information such as market prices for their products or weather conditions for their crops.

Cell phone use among Africans is rising. According to the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union, 75 per cent of all African phone users in 2004 used cell phones. At the same time, effective communication methods, such as cell phones, have increased competition among traders, which can ultimately mean better prices for farmers.

Farm Radio Weekly published a story in January 2008 about an short message service (SMS) system called TradeNet that helps farmers get better market prices: “Cell phones help farmers and traders do business more efficiently.” (http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/01/21/4-africa-cell-phones-help-farmers-and-traders-do-business-more-efficiently-farm-radio-weekly-africanewscom/)

You may wish to gauge the opinions of your listeners on cellular technologies and agriculture, or, you may wish to research a local story on the topic. Here are some questions that might help:
– How do farmers in your area sell their products?
– Do farmers in your area have access to cell phones? If so, do they use SMS to receive market prices or sell goods?
– Have farmers in your area increased their incomes by using cell phones?
– Do farmers use their cell phones to receive or exchange other information that helps them in their farming?
If you interview farmers who use cell phones, we would be very interested in hearing their stories. E-mail us at farmradioweekly@farmradio.org.

Finally, here are some other resources on SMS and internet technology for farmers:

-The official website for TradeNet, offered in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese: www.tradenet.biz.
-The website for DrumNet: http://www.drumnet.org/
-YouTube videos that explain the DrumNet project:
Part 1:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hw4bWMQMBQ&feature=related
Part2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrZ9RRe_sas&feature=related
Part3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJusLi3TLh0&feature=related

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March 5, 2010: Deadline to apply for Courage in Journalism Awards

The International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) is seeking nominations for its 2010 Courage in Journalism and Lifetime Achievement awards. These awards honour women working in the news media who have demonstrated extraordinary strength of character in pursuing their profession under difficult or dangerous circumstances.

Candidates can be full-time, part-time, or freelance women journalists working in print, broadcast, or online media in any country. Candidates for the Lifetime Achievement Award can also be retired journalists.

Award winners will spend approximately two weeks in the United States, making appearances at ceremonies in New York City, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles, and at other events. Each awardee will also receive a cash award of 5,000 American dollars (approximately 2,700 Euros).

For more information about the awards and how to nominate a journalist, visit:http://www.iwmf.org/honoring_courage.aspx.

To listen to a radio broadcast featuring the 2009 award winners, visit: http://www.iwmf.org/article.aspx?id=1137&c=carticles.

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E-learning course on reporting climate change and humanitarian emergencies

Reuters AlertNet offers an e-learning course designed to help journalists connect the dots between climate change and humanitarian emergencies. The course includes the following topics:

-General themes: the science behind it, sourcing accurate statistics, and thinking about winners and losers.
-Humanitarian angles: the implications of climate-related disasters; key questions to ask.
-Climate and energy: the implications of growing energy demand from developing countries.

Each module consists of a series of multiple-choice questions, followed by a brief explanation of the subject covered in the questions, and resources related to the subject. The entire course takes about 45 minutes to complete.

The course can be found online at: http://www.alertnet.org/bin/flash/elearning/ClimateChange/ClimateChange.htm.

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Share your favourite online resource

The FRW Team is preparing to publish the 100th edition of our newsletter, next week. We will celebrate this landmark by re-publishing some of your favourite news stories, as well as some of the best online resources.

We would like to know which online resource or resources you find most helpful in your work. This could be an online course you took, a guide you have referred to, or a useful website that you visit regularly. Feel free to identify a resource that has been published in a past issue of FRW, or a new resource that we can share with the FRW community.

To nominate a resource, please e-mail FRW Editor Heather Miller at hmiller@farmradio.org or post a comment on the FRW website: http://weekly.farmradio.org/.

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Balancing the interests of wildlife and rural communities: Lessons from Buabeng-Fiema monkey sanctuary in Ghana

As our first news story from Kenya illustrates, the creation of wildlife reserves as tourist attractions has the potential to disrupt the livelihoods of rural communities. Across Africa, there are many examples of communities being displaced when wildlife reserves were created. But there are also examples of rural communities actively involved in preserving wildlife and wildlife habitat.

In this week’s script, we learn about two communities in Ghana that created a monkey sanctuary 35 years ago. They are motivated by both traditional beliefs and by money. Revenue from tourists visiting the monkeys goes towards preserving the sanctuary, as well as towards community development projects.

You can also find this script online at: http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/87-1script_en.asp.

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