UNESCO Supports Consultative Workshop for Development of Mobile Applications for Peace Building in Kenya

On 25 and 26 May 2022, UNESCO in partnership with Pwani Teknowgalz organized a hybrid consultative workshop themed: MobiPeace Hackathon for development of mobile solutions on peace building initiatives in Kenya as part of the project Social Media 4 Peace funded by the European Union. This intervention attracted the participation of 50 young girls drawn from Lamu, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, Nairobi, Kilifi, Uasin Gishu, Laikipia and Marsabit counties in Kenya.

At the opening of the consultative workshop, Ms Misako Ito, Regional Advisor for Communication and Information in Africa at UNESCO stated that “We are glad that this initiative is tailored to engage young girls to develop mobile solutions for peace. From this process we expect three mobile applications to be developed in Swahili, Sheng and English languages to help create awareness on positive peace narratives and tackling online hate speech and disinformation ahead of the upcoming elections in Kenya”.

Francesco Carboni, Regional Crisis Response Planning Officer at the Delegation of European Union in Kenya highlighted the critical role of leveraging technology and media as tools that can potentially foster peace and stability.

He further highlighted ‘Kijana Jiihusishe’, a youth-led peace-building initiative supported by the European Union that seeks to strengthen collaborative youth networks towards peaceful 2022 elections in Kenya.

Rana Taha, Peace Development Advisor at the United Nations Resident Coordinator (UNRC) applauded UNESCO and the European Union for supporting the MobiPeace Hackathon and for their commitments towards ensuring peaceful co-existence in Kenya. She encouraged the girls stating that they should ensure that the developed mobile application solutions seek to make a difference in Kenya.

In the workshop, Ms. Olive Metet, Assistant Director Communication and Knowledge Management, National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), highlighted the background of NCIC in establishing a peaceful Kenyan society. She further encouraged young ladies to be at the forefront of ensuring peaceful co-existence among Kenyans.

Andrew Masila, Innovation Leader at Safaricom PLC stated that digital skills should be at the center of any innovation and digital transformation efforts. He encouraged the girls to continue building a digital ecosystem that will transform society and make it peaceful. Furthermore, Hugue Ngandeu Ngatta, Programme Specialist for Social and Human Sciences at UNESCO encouraged the girls to design mobile applications that offers tangible and concrete answers to solving some of the emerging issues and trends related to peacebuilding, particularly tackling hate speech and disinformation.

At the workshop, participants were taken through reflections on the current state of peace building in Kenya by technology experts and peace builders in Kenya. Possibilities for cooperation on peace initiatives, setting up safety and ethics principles around new technologies such as the Metaverse were also explored. In addition, the significance of gamification of peace was also discussed.

Presentations were also shared on importance of freedom of expression principles and safety in the digital environment and on the ‘Una Hakika’ platform that helps tackle misinformation and disinformation by Catherine Muya, Advocate and Program Officer at Article 19 EA and John Green Otunga, Programme Manager at The Sentinel Project respectively. John further encouraged the girls to borrow some inspiration and ideas from the Una Hakika platform to inform their co-creation process of mobile solutions for peace.

Other presentations also included ‘Approaches for ensured safety across METAs platforms and on perspectives and mechanisms for safety and responsibility in Digital Platforms’ by Suzan Elsayed, Safety Policy Manager (Africa, Middle East, and Turkey) at META and David Muya, Country Director of iEARN Kenya (META affiliate). The young girls were encouraged to apply for the ‘Digital ambassadors’ programme post the hackathon as young digital peacebuilders at iEARN Kenya.

The workshop attracted participation of organizations such as Search for Common Ground, National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), Universities and Colleges Students’ Peace Association of Kenya (UCSPAK) Build Up, The Sentinel Project, Safaricom PLC, European Centre for Electoral Support, UNDP Accelerator Lab.