Peaceful Coexistence: Media Outreach and Mass Awareness in Kalobeyei

 Kalobeyei Refugee Settlement, Turkana County ©FilmAid/Salum

Kalobeyei Refugee Settlement, Turkana County ©FilmAid/Salum

Kakuma Refugee Settlements have seen a rise in new arrivals seeking refuge from the continuing violence in South Sudan. The new settlement of Kalobeyei, situated 5km from Kakuma, will provide shelter for the new arrivals, integrate members of the host community in Turkana, and host refugees who are to be relocated from Dadaab Refugee Camps. The establishment of this new settlement aims to develop the resilience of displaced refugees and focus on promoting peaceful co-existence between the host and refugee communities.

Through the SPARK project, a new Livelihoods Consortium supported by DFID and other INGOs such as NRC, DRC, AAHI and HI, FilmAid is producing a docu-drama in order to target key beneficiaries through varied communication channels. These channels, including mobile cinema, radio broadcasts and IEC (Information, Education and Communication) materials will support the delivery of key messages on peaceful co-existence amongst refugees and the host community in Kalobeyei.

As the need for water continues to cause concern in Turkana county with the serious, ongoing drought in East Africa, the tensions in a harsh environment such as Kalobeyei are at an all time high with people queuing their jerry cans next to the water supply in anticipation for the arrival of water and disagreements between the host and refugee communities continuing.

 Jerry cans queued at water tap in Kalobeyei ©FilmAid/OCallaghan

Jerry cans queued at water tap in Kalobeyei ©FilmAid/OCallaghan

After thorough needs assessment and research processes, FilmAid was able to establish the key areas of conflict and the systems in place to prevent them. As a new settlement there are many causes of conflict such as limited resources, idleness and a lack of livelihood opportunities. Each contribute towards tensions between the host and refugee communities. Increased awareness on the role of community leadership through Peace Committees and reporting mechanisms will be key in resolving conflict and preventing future incidents, with a focus on addressing social conflict such as SGBV (Sexual, Gender Based Violence), cultural tolerance, and the need to share resources amongst all communities.  

During the research process we spoke with FilmAid’s Outreach Officer, Moses Epem about his thoughts on the importance of using communications for promoting peaceful coexistence.

 Moses Epem Eyran - Kalobeyei 

Moses Epem Eyran - Kalobeyei 

Q: Tell me about yourself, your role at FilmAid and your involvement on this project.

My name is Moses Epem Eyaran. I am currently working with FilmAid Kenya as an Outreach Officer in Kakuma and Kalobeyei Refugee Settlements. As an Outreach Officer my main duties are to work closely with the relevant community members to distinguish various issues of concern through focus group discussions. These discussions identify the most effective communications approach to addressing problems with the refugee and host communities. I then mobilize and facilitate the focus groups for FilmAid’s Media Outreach Program.

For the SPARK project my role and involvement is to carry out these tasks whilst playing a key role as a member of the host community myself.

Q: Why is your role important when making productions of this kind?

My role as an Outreach Officer and also a member of the host community is important in making these kinds of productions because I personally understand the context of the film from my own experiences living in Turkana and Kakuma town.

Q: So why is this film on Peaceful Coexistence important?

The film on Peaceful Coexistence is so important to both the refugee and host community in Kalobeyei in order to highlight what the main areas of conflict are and how both the communities can work together to resolve them. Using FilmAid’s outreach methodology, this film can be used for both the host and refugee’s viewing to help both understand the mechanisms that are in place to assist them in solving conflicts. The film will be used as a tool for targeted Outreach Workshops on Peaceful Coexistence that will be geared toward bringing the long desired attitude and behavioral change between the two communities.

Q: How can media and community outreach assist with peaceful coexistence between the refugee and host communities?

The SPARK, Peaceful Coexistence production will also be supported by other FilmAid outreach activities such as Bulk SMS, Mass Awareness Campaigns, targeted workshops, and Mobile Cinema screenings. Media and outreach are two inseparable and intertwined aspects of bringing positive social change in communities where resources are limited. The power of film, and magic of storytelling when used appropriately, brings about change in people’s lives through an increase in knowledge and positive behavior and attitude change which can culminate into self efficacy.

With all of these community outreach activities being initiated by FilmAid and supported by this film and story I have no doubt that there will be an actual realization of peaceful coexistence between the refugees and the host communities.