Empowering Indigenous Masaai Communities on Land and Environmental Rights through Radio Shows
The International Lawyers Project in collaboration with the Legal Resources Foundation, has organised a series of radio shows from November to December 2020 as part of its wider project (funded by the UK-Aid Small Charities Challenge grant) to build legal capacity amongst the Maasai communities in Olkaria, Kenya that are impacted by green energy investments. These radio shows aim to provide the community with basic information and knowledge on land rights to help them better engage with relevant stakeholders on land and community issues.
Four radio shows were held in total, and they were all broadcasted by Mayian FM – a leading local station that broadcasts in the Maa Language. Maa is the language spoken by the Maasai community of the Olkaria valley who live in the three villages (Narasha, Mai Mahiu and Kitet) that the ILP is working with throughout this project.
These sessions were not only a source of information for the community, they also provided an interactive platform that allowed audiences within the Maasai community to call and ask questions relating to their indigenous land and environmental rights. Mayian FM is also one of the most popular vernacular radio stations within the region, as it attracted more than 445,000 listeners throughout November and December 2020. Overall we found the radio shows to be an effective method to ascertain the exact queries commonly shared by the Maasai community before identifying key themes that can form part of the capacity training to the local community.
By way of illustration, some of the key topics that were actively discussed during the radio shows include:
Citizens basic Land and Environmental Rights
Classification regarding ownership of Private, Community and Government land
Personal safety & rights in the face of harassment or forced eviction
The legal eviction and trial process regarding land disputes
Issues of land ownership and consultations (providing clarifications on cases where land was sold by men without any prior consultations with women)
The right to peaceful protest – especially regarding the impact of development projects within the local community
The process of registering the community’s land holdings and rights
It is also interesting to note that these radio shows gave a platform and opportunity to community members to help them educate themselves and share information with each other about their land rights. Notably, female listeners and participants felt that common issues such as women or children not being consulted when land is being sold, land disinheritance faced by women upon divorce, or even the general confusion that women’s opinions are not relevant in matters relating to their land, were all dealt with respectfully and clarified professionally. This demonstrates that these radio shows have been a useful and efficient initiative to increase the Maasai’s (including young people, women, men and elders) awareness of their land rights.
Moving forward, two additional radio shows are being planned by ILP which focus on: a) the laws and policies that protect the community during land exploitation, and b) natural resources management (held in January 2021).
All of the radio shows were broadcasted at both Mayian FM frequency: 100.7 and Facebook Live, and the recordings could be accessed anytime through Mayian FM’s Facebook Page.
Yi Kang Choo – Legal Fellow, International Lawyers Project
The picture above shows one of the facilitators from the Legal Resources Foundation attending the radio shows being broadcasted live at Mayian FM.
The picture above was taken together with Mayian FM’s radio broadcasters and representatives from the Legal Resources Foundation that attended the radio shows.