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Digitally Enhanced Locally Appropriate Disaster Risk Reduction in Wajir and Turkana Counties,Kenya

To use digital technology to promote locally appropriate community managed disaster risk reduction in disaster prone communities

Photo of Rose
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Turkana and Wajir Counties; among the poorest counties in Kenya are prone to disasters such as; drought, floods, cholera, and animal diseases. Community vulnerability is high because of weak early warning and preparedness measures hence causing loss to assets and poverty. Communities do not yet fully utilize available spaces to voice their priorities and provide feedback on risk mitigation priorities. . The project will use digital technology to empower communities to lead in the disaster risk reduction process. Oxfam will develop and deploy mobile based, digital technology prioritized by communities for: - Mapping, monitoring, reporting and updating community resources and risks (water sources, pasture, migratory routes) critical for resilience to strengthen early warning and preparedness amongst communities and Government; GIS Monitoring of water sources, using drones, mini weather stations to conduct rapid assessments, electronic monitors on water infrastructure, SMS toll free lines for communities to report. -Early warning and feedback systems informed and fed by assessments and tools above- web based; SMS bulk platforms, toll free lines platforms; -Mobilizing and facilitating community participation in designing contingency and development plans. -linking communities to networks, institutions and themselves to map and identify resources for risk mitigation. -Capacity Building for communities and the government in preparing and responding to 3 key priority risk areas; - The project will promote dialogue between communities particularly between women and duty bearers, enhance improved management of community resources, promote prosperity by building assets, early action and averting costly delays. Women will particularly benefit from a more inclusive and better managed plans owing to their vulnerability due to negative social constructs, limited agency, exclusion from decision making and being most bearing the heavy burdens of disasters

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

The project will benefit 30 most vulnerable pastoral communities (directly reaching 100,000) in Turkana and Wajir, particularly women usually most affected by disasters. These communities will have access to SMS bulk sms, toll free lines, social media platforms for reporting, recording, monitoring and receiving early warning information. Their local knowledge will be used to reinforce conventional early warning systems. Community structures such as water management, health volunteers, animal health workers, and disaster management committees, local chiefs, local knowledge experts will access mobile based resource platforms for mitigating risks in 3 key risk areas. Communities with no access to the technology will receive information and feedback through meetings, and outreach by resource persons and radio platforms. Government departments will benefit from community led early warning, new skills and technology in monitoring and mitigating disaster risks.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

The idea provides real time access to early warning information on a large scale, while allowing for communities to monitor and update their risks and plans as their environments change. Community perspectives will guide early warning and mitigation measures. The project will ensure existing early warning systems such as those used by NDMA, Transparency International (Uwajibikaji Pamoja), systems work in harmony to strengthen risk mitigation capacities of communities. Oxfam is Kenya is known for bringing fresh ideas in programming and innovations. We are valued for our technical expertise that enables us to potentially influence systemic change in humanitarian systems, cash programming as well as build capacity of partners, government and private sector. Our experience and brand image enables us to bring networks and collaborations together. The private sector will lead in developing technology prioritized by communities.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Prototype: I have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing the idea.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Oxfam in Kenya is a development, humanitarian, and campaigning organization that works with others to alleviate poverty and inequality. Oxfam works with local communities, partners (local and international civil society, religious institutions, media, private sector, government to bring about long lasting systemic change at scale in women's rights, resilience, governance and accountability and natural resource programmes . For more information

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

Oxfam Kenya prides in testing new ideas- making small investments and using the lessons to drive scale. This can be seen from our initial investments with water ATMS and a pilot of a social protection programme for drought affected counties in Kenya. These have all been scaled up by private sector and government respectively without Oxfam continuing to invest in them. Oxfam's Kenya's approach is use technological innovations to strengthen existing resilience systems.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Kenya has achieved low middle income status but still faces very high levels of inequality. Its poorest counties like Turkana and Wajir among others are highly prone to disasters such as droughts; which destroy assets such as livestock, put pressure on existing resources such as water and pasture leading to conflicts. Mobile technology and digital penetration is growing and reaching some of the remotest parts of Kenya enabling the delivery of humanitarian assistance. This presents an opportunity for strengthening resilience. Devolved governments have the mandate to plan and deliver much needed development programmes to vulnerable communities.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

-Transparency International (TI)- TI has developed a web based accountability platform (uwajibikaji pamoja) for communities in the humanitarian sector. Oxfam will work with TI to incorporate community feedback in building a feedback system that works for them. -Safaricom- runs a bulk sms platform for Oxfam programmes and will be reviewing the current system to accommodate the needs of this project. -safaricom/Vodafon will test technologies for electronically monitoring water infrastructure. -NDMA- Oxfam will work with NDMA in collecting, disseminating early warning information -Community disaster management committees in 22 communities in Wajir and Turkana where community management disaster risk reduction was implemented. 8 new additional to be identified. Since 2013; with support from Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO), Oxfam worked along side 22 communities to map their risks and prioritise mitigation actions, and funded 18 community plans

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

The communities are cohesive; and are in position to identify and support the most vulnerable. They also have an understanding of changes in their environments and the measures they need to take to reduce the impact of disasters. Communities have successfully mobilized resources from within and out to mitigate risks and recognise the role and leadership of women in enabling households and communities to overcome shocks.

Geographic Focus

Kenya, Turkana County (North, West and Central sub counties) Wajir County (East, North, South, West)

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

36 Months

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No


Join the conversation:

Photo of Verena Lauble

Hi Rose,
I would be interested in hearing if the communities themselves have the opportunity to shaping the tool, and determining the way that it is implemented? While this certainly is a really important project, it seems to be quite a top-down implementation. Or maybe I missunderstood the proposal?
Thank you for any clarifying thoughts!

Photo of Rose

Hi Verena. Thank you for your question. Yes communities have the space to shape the tools. What technologies would work for them to facilitate them to report changes in their environments, assets, how would they receive feedback, hold leaders accountable in responding to disasters. We would need to work with partners and communities to listen, create, test and adapt; what  works for communities. The essence is to have community perspectives, knowledge, feedback of people most and first  affected, and who are normally the first to respond to disasters locally to influence the disaster risk reduction process. The community disaster risk reduction process really builds on what communities already know.  Digital technology provides the opportunity to keep the process consistent, continuous, agile rather than static in time and in paper.  In 2015, a small  study we conducted in Turkana showed that 77.5% of respondents had phones and 45% had access to radio. They preferred for information on business, early warning, health, to be disseminated through these platforms. So some of this technology is already existent and being used, but it is how to make it more effective. During Oxfam 2017 drought response in Turkana and Wajir; communities preferred to channel their complaints where they could have interface and there was a human element to the process. So communities preferred to talk to an Oxfam staff on phone than send an sms. They preferred channels where there was confidentiality and assurance of action. There were some communities for whom sms was quick, less costly. For the different areas and groups, our teams used what worked best for that community. We will need to ask the questions of what tools  can facilitate communities to report changes in their environments, provide feedback, highlight priorities, hold actors accountable in an empowering, efficient and effective way. The success of the idea is in how Oxfam and  partners work with communities to develop what is locally appropriate for them (communities)- the process and product both equally important.   

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