Africa’s Voices Foundation is based on the fundamental importance of listening skilfully but with humility to the views and priorities of citizens in determining the planning and execution of all social services across the Continent. Africa’s Voices has been a thoughtful intermediary between individuals and governments and social service providers for the past 6 years. Our unique combination of local language radio broadcasting, SMS, social media, analysis of data and social science continues to ensure that citizens‘ voices are at the heart of social programmes in many fields.
Unsurprisingly in 2020 the majority of our work was centred on the unprecedented problems arising from the COVID-19 pandemic which affected the populations, claiming lives and disrupting humans’ social, political and economic well-being. The whole Africa’s Voices team stand with those affected by the pandemic and extend gratitude and admiration to the medical professionals who worked so bravely to save lives.
The very problems of the pandemic gave me encouragement that Africa’s Voices has the systems, the management and the teams to make a real contribution in yet one more field. The outbreak meant the focus of our programs were increasingly tailored to mitigating the COVID-19 challenges and understanding the citizen’s attitudes in the face of it. Africa’s Voices’ ability to draft in undoubted expertise ensured that the right information was available and further, that misinformation was dispelled.
Thousands of participants sent SMS messages asking how to protect themselves. This allowed us to ensure recommended protective measures were made known to communities which in turn demanded accountability from authorities on the management of COVID-19 resources. This is a great example of how our resources can be expanded to demonstrate that citizens’ voices must be an essential element in development and social change across the Continent.
This was achieved by a new leader coming after the initial leader from Cambridge University experts Sharath Srinivasan and Luke Church withdrew to play an advisory but important role, leaving Samuel Kimeu to lead our effort at a time of much change in the pattern of demand for our services. Samuel has continued to strengthen the team. While none have tested positive for the COVID-19, extra demands are made on management for coordinating our various skill sets, as a result of working from home to minimize exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
The report will reveal the range of thoughtful agencies with which we collaborate. In 2020, we worked on various fronts in both Kenya and Somalia. Through our Citizen Evidence for Social Change programme, we addressed the norms that hinder education for young girls in Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps and an encouraging success story of parents who aborted their plan of marrying their teenage daughter after listening to Africa’s Voices’s radio programmes has been shared in this report. Under our Governance and Accountability programme, our flagship Common Social Accountability Platform (CSAP), was critical in giving citizens an opportunity to ask leaders the difficult questions on provision of services and use of public resources.
I am proud that Africa’s Voices continues to do work with a range of UN and other agencies, the Somali Stabilisation Fund, the World Bank, MasterCard Foundation and Oxfam to name but a few. We strongly believe that the added value of understanding citizens’ views should become a natural bedrock for national and international efforts to improve the welfare of all communities, and particularly the poorest and hardest to reach. I am confident we have a remarkable range of carefully interconnected skills and a management team that can apply them in due course over an ever wider range of social and geographic areas.
We welcome thoughts, comments and opinions. We too can learn to do better by listening to more and more people more skillfully.
With best wishes,
Chairman of the Board