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Sisi Ni Amani 2010

Sisi Ni Amani 2010

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Published by Cody Valdes
Our five page update on Sisi ni Amani, including pictures, observations on our operating environment, and the story behind our progression from July 2010 to January 2011. Also includes three original diagrams.
Our five page update on Sisi ni Amani, including pictures, observations on our operating environment, and the story behind our progression from July 2010 to January 2011. Also includes three original diagrams.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Cody Valdes on Jan 04, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Sisi ni Amani is a movement of peace groups throughout Kenya that aims to maximize the impactof the country’s grassroots forces for peace by increasing the connectivity and enhancingcommunity and national visibility of its members. Sisi ni Amani leverages basic mobiletechnologies to communicate vital information about local peace and conflict among Kenya’s civilsociety leaders at the community level.
In Kenya’s fragile political context, the strength of social networks and community integration isfundamental to the maintenance of peace and themitigation of politically-driven conflict. Thegeographies and densities of social networks varytremendously throughout the country, from the semi-urban pastoralist communities of westernKenya to Nairobi’s sprawling slums. At the same time, the importance of these networks to acommunity’s ability to respond to and prevent the triggers of violence is universally paramount. Inthe areas where Sisi ni Amani works, conflict is generally contained and settled within a givengeographical space, but is stimulated by tribalized politics and the perception of broader tensionsduring national election periods. Our primary focus is thus on strengthening the intra-communitynetworks of local leaders who are progressing their communities away from violence, in preparationfor the 2012 general elections.
 Sisi ni Amani provides rapid and secure mobile connectivity on an SMS-based platform for anexclusive network of civil society leaders in a given geography.
Sisi ni Amani takes a technology-aided approach to building and strengthening human networksamong Kenya’s local civil society leaders. Sisi ni Amani leverages basic mobile technologies tocreate simple social-media platforms for the communication of crucial information about local peace and conflict among civil society leaders at the community level. Our mobile platforms,unique to Kenya’s growing but underdeveloped ICT consumer base, advance our mission of facilitating secure and rapid communication among grassroots civil society leaders, who remaindisconnected by simple barriers of geography, resourses, and time, as tensions surrounding the 2012general elections begin to emerge.We offer self-identified peace groups access to a closed-loop SMS technology that allows them tosecurely and rapidly transmit SMS messages to their members via our own unique number.Currently, these messages are used to relay information to group members for the purpose of organizing and mobilizing in the course of the groups’ regular activities, as well as to reach out tothe broader community with information about upcoming peace events. The technology allowsthese groups to operate more economically and time-effectively than traditional methods of organizing and marketing.
Our technologies are central to our mission of connecting and facilitating secure and rapid communication among our members, but their utility is wholly dependent upon thehuman bonds that sustain these self-identified networks
Sisi ni Amani
 Empowering, Understanding, and Connecting Peace in Kenya
Sisi ni Amani
Sisi ni Amani works with its member groups to develop community-specific protocols for thesecure and rapid communication of conflict early-warning sign and violence information via itsSMS platforms in preparation for Kenya’s 2012 elections. Our aim is to provide local peaceorganizations the ability to communicate accurate information about conflict and peace effortsamong themselves so that they can formulate joint action-plans to mitigate the conflict or supportthe peace initiatives, and to the broader community so that they can dispel rumors and provideaccurate information about isolated acts of violence to their constituents.Sisi ni Amani has identified four factors that impede the flow of accurate information about conflictin its pilot partner communities: a lack of access to and availability of formal local media (radio,t.v., newspaper); the inadequacy of local media that does exist, which has been vulnerable togovernment censure, information delays, and the spread of hate-speech in the past; limitations onthe use of new mobile communication technologies due to lack of resources for purchasing air time(less so for lack of access to mobile phones); and a general reliance on word-of-mouthcommunication, which becomes highly susceptible to the spread of rumors, hate-ideology, and mis-information during periods of heightened tension.Sisi ni Amani’s mobile social-media platforms represent a game-changing advancement in thespread of information to community stakeholders before, during, and after Kenya’s upcominggeneral elections. In a given geography, willing community members will be subscribed to freealerts from known civil society leaders that inform them when, if, and where a violent mob isforming in their vicinity; if a politician has come into their slum to recruit youth foot-soldiers with petty cash; if a number youth groups have united to secure their cell of the slum against theincursion of violence (youth often being the principle perpretrators); if the community’s Maasaigroup of elders has shown their solidarity with Kalenjin elders to promote peace; and so on.Sisi ni Amani creates a semi-formal information platform for the instant transmission of community-level information to its subscribers from trusted local civil society leaders, exploitingthe large penetration of mobile phones and introducing the first information service with animmediate turnover of locally-relevant information. By financing the sharing of these alerts at thecost of one unit of SMS per community subscriber (current rates are 1Ksh per SMS; 80Ksh:1USD),it eliminates the cost burden that currently prevents the spread of information among civil societyleaders and the broader community. And by allowing unconnected citizens simultaneous access tothe same information as their neighbours from a neutral and reputable source, Sisi ni Amanicombats the spread of inflammatory rumor and conjecture in vulnerable communities.
 Sisi ni Amani’s chapters provide a forum for mobilizing and networking peace groups and civil  society leaders within a given community.
Sisi ni Amani stimulates the creation of new communitystructures for connecting all willing peace organizationsand informal peace groups in a given geographical area. Itcurrently has two fledging chapters in Baba Ndogo andKorogocho slums, Nairobi, and an emerging chapter in Narok, Rift Valley. In the future, Sisi ni Amani aims to hold national peace workshops that will bring together the leaders of its member groups for informed conversations on conflicttransformation, forming lasting relationships based on shared experiences. Our workshops willinclude peer-led capacity-building sessions, group discussions on topics such as root causes of conflict, and the sharing of successes and challenges in conflict prevention and response.
Empowering, Understanding, and Connecting Peace in Kenya
Sisi ni Amani
The guiding aim of Sisi ni Amani chapters is to promote Community Conversations using allavailable tools at the local level: among civil society leaders, through SMS-based reporting,mobilization, and conflict-response, and workshops on conflict and peace in the community; for the broader community, through subscription to SMS-based alerts and updates about local peace andconflict, and participation in regular community fora for disscusions on the root causes of violence.
 Sisi ni Amani produces ground-breaking media about local peace activities in order to cultivate a greater awareness and appreciation within the public for the daily successes and struggles of  Kenya’s peace heroes.
Sisi ni Amani uses a variety of media to enhance the visibility of itsmembers at the community and national levels, with the aim of  promoting greater general understanding of the character of peacework being done throughout Kenya. Our website provides mediaoutlets with a resource for reporting positive news from otherwisestigmatized areas of Kenya. Sisi ni Amani trains its member groups toupdate and maintain group profiles on its website, which includegroup descriptions, interview transcripts, and short documentaries produced by Sisi ni Amani. Our interviews bring forth the stories of the youth who were directly involved in Kenya’s 2008 post-election violence, and whose current peace-building activities represent a direct response to whatthey view as the root causes of violence in their communities.
BABA NDOGO: The Story of our Pilot Community
In our pilot community of Baba Ndogo (“Little Uncle” in Kiswahili), one of Nairobi’s moreviolence-affected slums, we have catalyzed 12 independent groups, whose primary activities rangefrom performance arts and ‘edutainment’ to garbage collection and urban farming, to communicateand work together under the umbrella of Sisi ni Amani. Each of these groups began mobilizing their members – primarily youth (defined as about 16 to 35 years) in their area – to redress certain rootcauses of violence through their chosen activities. Their activities represent a form of second-degree peace promotion by going to the heart of central problems in their communities – unemployment,youth idleness, negative tribal stereotypes – while the fact of their existence serves to maintain peace in a more direct way, by uniting the youth, who are frequently the primary agents of violence,over a given area towards a positive cause. An example we frequently cite is Downstream YouthGroup, a collection of youths in Baba Ndogo who have employed themselves through a car-wash business. Of the many car-washes in Baba Ndogo, this one distinguishes itself as having beenstarted as a direct response to the unemployment that left its members vulnerable to manipulation by cash-weilding politicians, who entice youth in Baba Ndogo slum to arm themselves against rivalethnic communities with as little as Ksh500, or $6USD, during the 2007/8 election period.With a combined representation of over 150 members, these groupsorganized and spear-headed the launch of Sisi ni Amani in Baba Ndogo on September 25, 2010, an event that involved over 500members of the community to spread the word about our unique phone number to the community stakeholders and future SMS-alertssubscribers. Additionally, the groups have formed a formal Secretariat(Sisi ni Amani Baba Ndogo) to coordinate future peace activities andconflict response over the upcoming two years. By bringing together all of the youth who were“reading from the same page of peace” for the first time, as our community partners aptly put it, our launch imbued the leaders of Baba Ndogo’s peace groups with the energy and platform for 
Empowering, Understanding, and Connecting Peace in Kenya

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