UNDP supports use of media to enhance citizen participation

Sikika sasa
Citizens participate in one of the sikika sasa show.

Among the key milestones in Kenya’s democratic journey entrenched in the constitution is citizen participation and involvement in their governance. Under the devolved system, the county governments have a duty to ensure citizen's voices are taken into account in decision-making process and in making legislation that will affect them.

The challenge, however, is educating as many citizens as possible on these new rights and responsibilities and to provide them with tools to make valuable contributions to the governance process. To this end, UNDP through its civil society and democratic facility of Amkeni Wakenya, partnered with KTN, a leading television station in Kenya to launch an interactive talk show so as to engage the public on pertinent issues affecting the country.

The talk show titled Sikika Sasa – Swahili word meaning ‘it’s time to be heard’ is aired live on location in the different counties, highlighting the different issues affecting the particular area and giving leaders an opportunity to directly interact with the residents, give feedback on the questions asked and detail on progress on the various development projects being undertaken in the county.  This has therefore given residents a voice to be heard in the national discourse.

Objectives of the show

  • • The program provides a platform for the people of Kenya to voice their views on the development agenda in their regions
  • • Sikika sasa show helps create national dialogue platform between the citizens and their leadership

During the launch of the program, UNDP Resident Representative Nardos Bekele Thomas said Citizens are the drivers of change and therefore need to have a platform with which they can discuss their issues. “UNDP will continue to provide a platform for Kenyans to dialogue on critical national issues affecting them.”  On his part, the Standard Group Chief Executive Officer Sam Shollei said the 47 counties face unique but interrelated challenges and the program will offer a platform for key issues to be addressed, and lessons learnt from other counties. "Through these discussions, problems and solutions on issues of insecurity, governance and development among other concerns will be looked into”. Said Shollei.

In the first three months of the show, the program was able to reach over 2 million viewers and get high rating on social media with the issues highlighted in the program trending on twitter, long after the program had ended. This only goes to show that Kenyans are looking for areas in which they can air their issues and engage with their leaders for effective service delivery.

 

Kenyans lauded UNDP and KTN for giving them a platform with which they could freely interact with their leaders. “We have been trying to get the Governor to tell him of the prioriority areas we would want him tofocus on but we had no way of reaching him, until the ‘sikika sasa’ show. I am very happy that I was able to talk to interact with him” said one of the participant in the show. Another said “We have been trying to get the governor to tell us why he spent so much money in buying the governor’s residence with our money yet the county is reeling in poverty and there are many areas that the money would have made so more impact on people’s lives.”

UNDP  has over the years  utilized the  media  and other  mediums of communication to advocate  for  key issues  such as   informed participation in   electoral  processes,   advocating  for peaceful elections  and  promotion and  protection  of  human  rights  to reach out to communities and facilitate participation in efforts of sustainable growth. This has enhanced citizen engagement, improved information dissemination and enabled more people to be reached at the same time.

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