BUKWO – An NGO has put at the forefront local radio in the fight to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and Gender-based violence in Sebei sub-region.
Sabiny FM [90.3FM] is one of the radio stations benefiting from the African Development Bank [AFDB] fund through Uganda National Road Authority [UNRA] to create awareness on FGM and GBV in Kapchorwa, Kween and Bukwo districts in Sebei sub-region.
According to the Director-General of Reproductive Education and Community Health [REACH] Ms Chelangat, programme is proving to be indispensable in raising awareness for the issue and educating girls on the action to take in avoiding FGM – especially when there seems to be no way out.
Sabiny FM is now providing information on FGM and a campaigner against it through their broadcasts and that girls/women are now set o avoid FGM and forced marriage by making contact with the REACH programme,’ thanks to the local radio programs’
“Radio is often the only way to reach many of the communities where FGM and GBV continue to prevail. Radio campaigns can reach women and girls at risk. It can change the perceptions of women and men and inform women on their basic human rights,” said Ms Chelangat.
In the past, REACH has provided girls/women with shelter and coordinated with other Non-government Organisations involved in the fight against FGM and GBV, the ministry of gender and community development to provide an education for girls health and income-generating activities, to offer long-term support for surgeons/cutters who have abandoned the practice.
“But because of financial constraints we cant provide these now and our appeal to the government is to help revive the funding for the REACH programme promised by President Museveni for us to continue doing this,” said Ms Chelangat.
Mr Peter Kamuron, the vice-chairman of the REACH Board appealed to donors to support the girls/women especially those who have fled the practice to receive vocational training at the REACH technical institute in Kapchorwa to boost their living.
He also added that “Sabiny FM in Bukwo and Elgon FM in Kapchorwa have proved essential in distributing proper information among the at-risk girls/women of the region and in linking girls to the people able to help them.
He thanked the REACH for using the local radios for the benefit of training, creating awareness on GBV/FGM and an extensive baseline study.
While appearing on Radio 1 November, Doctor Arapkisa Yeko, gynecologist and a reproductive health specialist at the new project funded by AFDB through UNRA said they are going to survey listeners to identify the local issues most important to them and how FGM/GBV has impacted the lives of many.
“And this awareness creation we are doing on radio will increase the peoples ‘ability to effectively speak out against GBV and FGM by connecting the programs to pressing issues in the communities. Radio stations are more capable of addressing the primary concerns of the community to bring about positive action,” said Dr Arapkisa.
During the talk show, Sabiny FM received a great response from their listeners, particularly young girls, in their radio campaign to end FGM/GBV in the Sebei sub-region.
From the call-in sessions, it was clear that girls are now eager to educate themselves regarding who and where to turn to should they be pressured into a forced marriage or undergoing FGM and GBV – vital information that the radio delivered.
The REACH programme now intends to support community radios to ensure that people in Sebei sub-region and across Kenya, especially the poor, women and girls, have the capacity to make informed decisions on issues that affect their daily lives based on access to relevant, culturally appropriate, gender-responsive and accurate information and knowledge.
The Sebei sub-region where the project is being implemented [along Kapchorwa-Bukwo road] represents one of the most prevalent areas for FGM practice estimated at 0.3% of women between the ages of 15-49.
FGM is near-universal (95%) among the Pokot, and is estimated at 50% among the Sabiny, but the prevalence of FGM across the entire country is less than 1%.
The report from the deputy director General REACH programme Mr Robert Cherop Mangusho while commenting on the project that started in August 2021 reveals that the project is successful in Sebei sub-region and has a positive outcome as it shows how radio stations are raising awareness.
“There is great awareness in the communities and consequently this will go a long way to aid government efforts in enforcing the law and regulation passed in 2010,” said Mr Mangusho.