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Reporting and documenting sexual violence in DRC

Radio Okapi in DRC and mobile phone technology allow for safe, confidential reporting, giving women voice that can be amplified over Okapi network of 40 million listeners. Free short code and voice prompt in local languages ensure accessibility.

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Women and girls are uniquely and disproportionately affected by armed conflict. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Democratic Republic of Congo. An assessment in late 2012 by Action Aid, the American NGO, found that the recent conflict between M23 and FARDC led to an increase in human rights violations, and in particular sexual and gender based violence targeting women and girls.

Radio Okapi in DRC has been an important source of information on human rights, and specifically on gender based violence, for the population of DRC. Recent polls place Radio Okapi, which is a partnership between Fondation Hirondelle and the UN peace building mission, in the forefront of the media in Congo in terms of audience figures across the whole country, estimated at 14 million listeners daily, and more than 20 million “regular” listeners (at least once a week), by the IMMAR polling institute. This concept would link the Okapi network of reporters, partner radios and huge listenership with technology that would equip women to report and document cases of rape. A short code and free call back with voice prompt in local language would ensure confidentiality, and accessibility. Reports could be uploaded from hubs in regional capitals to a cloud that would serve <o:p></o:p>partner radio stations. They would be archived on the Radio Okapi website or a dedicated website.

For more on Okapi reporting sexual violence link to Hirondelle USA and Radio Ndeke Luka in Central African Republic. 

How does your idea gather AND verify information? How does your idea keep those who use it safe?

Network of radio journalists from local partner radios ensure verification of information, ethical standards of journalism. Short code with voice prompt allow women to participate and stay safe from retribution, stigmatization.

How might your idea be designed to scale and spread to help as many people as possible?

Test in Goma and scale to DRC, Central Africa Republic, where we operate the independent public service radio Ndeke Luka.

How might your idea make use of exisiting technology? Has your idea been tried in a different or related context?

Uses first generation cell phone. The technology has been tested with youth radio in South Africa. It needs buy in from mobile provider.

How could you begin prototyping this idea in a simple way to begin testing and refining it? Who would use your idea and/or who is using it now? Is your idea technically easy medium or hard to implement?

Technology is easy and appropriate for DRC (internet use 1.2%, cell phone use expected at 47% in 2013 from 23% in 2011.) Hirondelle could pilot the project with support for purchase of cell phones. Would need support of telecoms company to ensure service was free for users.

How is your idea adapted for conditions in hard-to-access areas, such as lack of internet and mobile access? Can users adopt it without much behavior change?

There is good mobile access across DRC. Internet is extremely limited but not necessary for the success. Internet access from hubs in Goma and other regional capitals could upload the reports to a cloud that could then be accessible to all partner radio stations (most of which have internet).


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