, 21 June, 2020 / 11:07 PM
The financial subsidy from Kenya’s Government toward community-based media outlets to enhance their COVID-19 awareness programs at the grassroots has been received with happiness and appreciation by those at the helm of the Catholic media. They have pledged to put to good use the resources received from the Government through the Media Council of Kenya (MCK).
“We are happy that the Government, through MCK, has considered supporting the Church media during these difficult times for us in the industry. We appreciate this gesture and commit to put the funds into proper use,” the National Executive Secretary for the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), Sr. Adelaide Ndilu said in a report.
"The donation will go a long way in helping us. Things have really been difficult with radio stations as some had to send their broadcasters home," Sr. Adelaide told ACI Africa in an interview, Sunday, June 21.
Sr. Adelaide who also oversees the KCCB owned Ukweli TV and Radio Waumini said that the financial aid worth Kshs.6.3million (USD59,000) was distributed among 17 Catholic Radio stations in the country, each getting between Kshs. 250,000 to Kshs. 500,000 (USD 2,351 to USD 4,703).
Asked if the leadership of the respective Catholic Radios applied for the funds, she said, "Nobody applied to be given money. The government allocated some money for media houses and MCK applied for it then distributed it to different stations."
The Kenyan nun noted that the financial aid will be instrumental in aiding the activities of the various media in the country.
The donation from Government, Sr. Adelaide said, "is all about COVID-19, making sure that we do more by inviting health experts and Religious leaders to speak about the pandemic."
A move aimed at assisting community media in disseminating information about COVID-19, the grant facilitated by MCK targets community-based and vernacular radio stations in Kenya.
“The grant from the Government through the Ministry of ICT and Innovation is intended to assist community media in implementing public awareness activities as an emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” MCK Chief Executive Officer, Mr. David Omwoyo was quoted as saying.
The subsidy will enable the media houses sustain their employees for at least the next three months, Mr. Omwoyo said.
According to the leadership of MCK, “Local community and vernacular outlets are authoritative and popular in public education and awareness on COVID-19 as critical sources of information.”
“We realized that through local and vernacular media, we can better educate the public about COVID-19. We can have religious and local leaders who will speak in the vernacular language and the people will understand them,” the CEO of MCK told ACI Africa in an interview.
According to the MCK official, the funds offered to “only accredited media” will also facilitate the work of journalists who are considered essential service providers.
In a letter addressed to the beneficiaries of the grant, MCK leadership encouraged them to ensure the COVID-19 protocols provided by the Ministry of Health are adhered to, urging the personnel at the Radio stations “host informative programmes with elected, religious and other opinion leaders” in their respective Counties to assist in educating the public about the pandemic.
Acknowledging receipt of the grant, the Manager of Radio Umoja in the Catholic Diocese of Nakuru, Harrison Wafula, noted that the funds have come at an appropriate time given that “COVID-19 has affected so many sectors of the economy including the media.”
“Our radio depends mainly on advertising and many advertisers have scaled-down. We are not getting enough revenue to sustain ourselves in terms of salary and other facilitation,” Wafula told ACI Africa.
The station manager of Radio Umoja said the funds received will sustain the Radio Station for the next three months including “the payment of salaries and enable us to carry out other activities so that we can give our audiences good information about COVID-19.”
In line with the requirements of the grant, Mr. Wafula said that the personnel at Radio Umoja have so far produced adverts, hosted health experts and opinion leaders to speak about the pandemic.
“We recorded two adverts that are already running, one in Kiswahili and another in Kalenjin, the local language,” Wafula told ACI Africa.
The staff at the Radio Station have facilitated the realization of "two talk shows, with health officials from the County Government of Baringo, a priest and local leaders," he further said.
For accountability, the leadership of MCK instructed beneficiaries of the grant to keep all the broadcasting logs as proof of running COVID-19 related content.
“We will document the logs of what we are doing after every month to show what we have done in line with their request,” Wafula said in reference to MCK directed.
“This is a good move from the government to cushion the journalists. MCK has shown it is aware of what journalists are going through,” the Station Manager of Radio Umoja noted.
MCK disbursed 80 percent of the funds to the various beneficiaries, with the remaining 20 percent to be paid after three months upon submission of project reports.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa