FARMERS' VOICE RADIO FOR WOMEN TEA FARMERS AND WORKERS IN NANDI HILLS
Rift Valley, Kenya
Sireet OEP (Outgrowers Empowerment and Producer Company), the National
Organisation of Peer Educators (NOPE) and Twinings
04/2022 to 09/2023
Tea smallholders and workers, particularly women, involved in
Twinings’ tea supply chain in Nandi County, Kenya
"Tugetab Kabotik ab Sireet OEP" ("The sound of farmers from Sireet OEP") on Kass FM 91.1
Sireet OEP has 12,000 smallholder tea farmer members, of whom around 30% are women. Women make up the majority of the workforce in tea gardens; their work ranges from early plant care, to tea plucking, to carrying loads. Sireet OEP own and manage (with the support of Eastern Produce Kenya) Siret tea estate and factory in Nandi County in Kenya, where Twinings sources some of its tea. Empowering women in tea growing communities through health, protection and access to opportunities is a key focus area for Twinings and their Sourced with Care programme.
A community needs assessment led by Twinings with tea smallholders and workers in Nandi County showed that poor access to healthcare facilities and information was having a detrimental effect on women’s wellbeing as well as putting pressure on family finances. Since 2016, Twinings have been working with partners on health projects as a response to these findings, helping women to be healthier and also to live a more empowered life.
This Farmers’ Voice Radio project will use participatory radio to extend the reach of the 300 Peer Health Educators from Sireet OEP, who provide women tea workers and farmers with information on reproductive health and family planning, sexually transmitted infections, pre- and post-natal care, nutrition, and non-communicable diseases. While these Peer Health Educators have already reached thousands of women, barriers such as mobility restrictions, geographical isolation and domestic commitments can hamper women’s access to information and educational services – an issue further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Radio, particularly local community broadcasters, can overcome these barriers, reaching directly into people’s homes and fields (many people use mobile phone handsets to pick up FM radio while at work) in even the most remote locations.
The overall aim of the project is to empower women tea smallholders and workers in Nandi Hills to improve their families’ health and wellbeing and to achieve more secure livelihoods. Specifically, the Farmers’ Voice Radio programmes will target the following objectives:
To increase access to community and personal health information and services for women and families, in particular reproductive health and nutrition.
To improve women’s knowledge, attitudes and practices around reproductive health and nutrition.
2. Gender justice
To raise awareness of the benefits of gender equality amongst women and men.
To challenge gender imbalances in household decision-making and reduce gender-based violence.
3. Secure livelihoods
To increase knowledge and adoption of appropriate alternative income generating activities that will reduce families’ dependence on tea.
To increase women’s control over household income.
This will be achieved through a 12-month Farmers’ Voice Radio programme series, aired on a Kalenjin language station, that will target the 12,000 members of Sireet OEP and their households, as well as other farmers and workers involved in the Twinings tea supply chain in Nandi Hills. The series will use the tea seasonal calendar as a framework around which to plan programme content, with individual episodes focused on a range of topics, broadcast at the most appropriate time of year.
The radio programme content will be generated by a Programme Reference Group (PRG), made up of 12 farmers (two from each of the six Sireet OEP zones), who will meet monthly to discuss the selected. These discussions will be recorded, edited into short programmes and broadcast, twice weekly, by the local radio station partner. MP3 audio files and transcripts of all episodes will also be retained for repeated use alongside other interventions.
Relevant and credible local resource people with expertise on the discussion topics will be invited to the PRG meetings and/or interviewed separately by the radio presenters to supplement and challenge information provided by the PRG members where necessary, and to answer listener questions.
To maximise the engagement of tea smallholders and workers beyond PRG members, a Listener Feedback Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System will be established, inviting listeners to call in with questions and comments about what they have heard in the radio programmes. This feedback will be used to improve programme quality and relevance, and questions will be responded to by technical experts in subsequent episodes, creating a wider community conversation.
Communal Listening Sessions run by farmer Radio Champions equipped with group listening radios will be set up in certain communities, to enable those without a radio set at home to listen and engage in the radio programme content.