What the project is about
On 7th December 2009, “Picha Mtaani” was launched at a colorful ceremony in Nairobi. The launch was preceded over by the UN Senior Peace and Development Advisor, and Chief, Peace Building and Conflict Prevention (UNDP), Dr.Ozonnia Ojielo, together with invited guests including Prof. Olatokundo Ige (OHCHR), Amb. Michael Ranneberger (USA) and Salim Amin (A24 Media).
“Picha Mtaani” in partnership with UNDP Kenya, is an initiative that seeks to create a platform for peace building, national healing and cohesion through street picture galleries, hosted dialogues and repertoire of the reflections and discussions. The peace caravan will tour seven towns – Eldoret, Kericho, Nakuru, Naivasha, Mombasa, Nyeri and Kisumu – that were the hardest hit by the spate of the Post Election Violence. This tour is intended to run for a period of 8 months, with a 4 to 5 day stay in each town.
Working with District Peace Commitees and up to 200 community youth groups including 40 volunteers per town, Picha Mtaani intends to facilitate space for reflection through emotive street picture exhibitions that will inspire dialogue and truth telling amongst the youth in rural and urban settlements. George Gachara, the Project Coordinator of Picha Mtaani, says that these are the silent victims who are currently at the tail end of on-going peace initiatives in the country, and were mostly the executers of the violence.
George confesses that his visit to Eldoret was the most profound during the pilot phase of this project. 30 Community Youth Groups had assembled at the venue and soon after the picture exhibition and commencement of the discussions; these participants recounted their traumatic ordeals and their internal struggle to restrain themselves from harming the perceived perpetrators of the violence meted out on their kinfolk. George was overwhelmed by these revelations and realized the need for the inclusion of psycho-social support in this initiative to foster personal healing and interpersonal coexistence. Aggrieved individuals and groups also need to address the inaccuracies that fueled the violence at an interpersonal level.
Boniface Mwangi, the Director of Picha Mtaani, believes that pictures are a strong medium that captures reality in a genuine and unbiased manner hence the appropriate tool for reflection, dialogue and peace building. Peace caucuses will be established in every town at the end of the every tour to work in partnership with District Peace Committees, to provide a framework and the tools to carry on the initiated peace processes.
To support the achievement of peace, UNDP is constantly mobilizing financial and technical resources through its Peace Building and Conflict Prevention Unit. It is hoped that this investment will ensure that the people of Kenya are able to attain their full potential by living in a peaceful country which is the foundation of any development.
UNDP currently has programmes in areas such peace-building and reconciliation, conflict transformation and armed violence prevention or reduction. These programmes are aimed at; integrating conflict prevention into development programmes; building national processes and institutions for conflict management and ensuring that there is consensus through dialogue.