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Somalia’s Jubbaland State holds stakeholder forum on good governance

A stakeholder forum on the role of Somali citizens and government in promoting good governance has taken place in Kismayo, the capital of Somalia’s southern Jubbaland State.

The forum, organised on the theme ‘Role of Somali Citizens and Government in Good Governance’, brought together relevant stakeholders from the Jubbaland State government, regional parliament, representatives from youth and women groups as well local civil society organisations and religious leaders.

The forum was organised by the Jubbaland State government with support from the Somalia Stability Fund (SSF), a multi-donor fund working towards a peaceful, secure and stable Somalia.

By hosting the meeting, the Jubbaland State government said it hoped that the one-day consultation facility will help promote and improve good governance, accountability and transparency in both Jubbaland and Somalia as a whole.

The event, which featured a number of high-level speakers from Jubbaland State ministries, parliament, and civil society organisations, was televised on Star Television Network (STN).

During his remarks, Jubbaland Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Adam Ibrahim Aw-Hirsi noted that Somalia’s progress towards stability and development depended largely on good governance.

He said: “Good governance is about strengthening the relationship between the government and the citizens. It is also about maintaining law and order as well the existence of mutual respect and trust between the citizens and the government.”

In In particular, Mr. Aw-Hirsi emphasised the critical role of civic education in promoting good governance in Jubbaland and rest of Somalia.

“I believe civic education can play a critical role in informing Somali citizens about the government work and policies,” he said.

Speaking at the event, Jubbaland Member of Parliament Mohamed Mohamud Farah encouraged mainstream Somali media to hold and facilitate more such public dialogue on good governance in the country.

“I would like to ask TV stations in Jubbaland to facilitate forums such as this and not just wait for the government,” he said.

Kismayo-based lawyer and activist Abdullahi Abdiqadir Adan said civil society organisations and political parties were key players in fostering and nurturing good governance in Somalia.

A special segment of the programme included participants sharing their points of view and questions about the theme.

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2018: A dark year for press freedom

This statement was originally published on on 21 December 2018.

Around the world press freedom faced a litany of attacks in 2018, as political leaders unwilling to accept scrutiny increasingly jail, prosecute or undermine the credibility of critical journalists. As many as 78 journalists were killed in 2018, according to the International Press Institute (IPI)’s Death Watch, as scores of murders in previous years remain mired in impunity.

“There is a growing movement, including in countries once seen as guarantors of fundamental rights, aimed at destroying the press as an institution of democracy”, IPI Executive Director Barbara Trionfi said. “This atmosphere of intolerance toward independent journalism is putting the lives and freedom of journalists at risk and threatening the public’s right to know.”

IPI, a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists for media freedom, has been compiling annual data on the killings of journalists since 1997 as part of its press freedom and safety of journalist programmes.

The Death Watch data for 2018 show that as many as 28 reporters and journalists were killed in targeted attacks during the year, while 11 died covering armed conflict. Mexico and Afghanistan were the deadliest countries for journalists were overall, with 13 deaths each.

Impunity for crimes against journalists remained at a shockingly high level in 2018. Prominently, Saudi Arabia has refused to hold those responsible for the gruesome murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi to account, while Slovak authorities have yet to arrest the mastermind behind the murder of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak in February.

“Governments around the world are dragging their feet in investigating murders of journalists”, IPI Head of Advocacy Ravi R. Prasad said. “Investigations in a large number of cases are slow and tardy, due in many cases to a lack of political will to bring the killers and perpetrators to justice.”

Despite a small decrease in the number of journalists killed compared to the previous year, 2018 witnessed an overall decline in the state of press freedom worldwide amid a trend of increased harassment and intimidation of journalists and attacks on independent media.

With 159 journalists in prison and many more being prosecuted for doing their work, Turkey remains the world’s top jailer of journalists. The country’s crackdown on independent media widened in 2018 with the arrests of 46 more reporters, mostly on spurious terrorism-related charges. As in Turkey, where most media outlets have been bought up by businesses close to the ruling AK Party, in Hungary independent media are increasingly encircled by a state media machine and are being starved of advertisement revenue.

In Myanmar two Reuters journalists were convicted and sentenced for violating the Official Secrets Act while the Philippine government has sought to silence IPI Free Media Pioneer Rappler by charging founder Maria Ressa with tax evasionBangladesh, Russia and Cambodia are just a few examples of countries that have introduced controversial legislation on “fake news” that threatens press freedom.

In Africa, journalists came under attack by security forces in Uganda and Zimbabwe, while in Tanzania editors and journalists turned to self-censorship as the government escalated its clampdown on critical media.The Egyptian government refused to release prize-winning photojournalist Shawkan despite a court order. It also arbitrarily extended the detention of Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud Hussein, who has been jailed for over 700 days without charges. The whereabouts of another noted journalist, Ismail Alexandrani, are unknown.


Somalia Stability Fund: Providing strategic communications support for the government

To build trust between the Somali government and citizens, the Somalia Stability Fund (SSF) worked with SMDC to increase communications between government and Somali citizens. Under the contract, SMDC’s role is to help improve Somali government communications efforts, increase its visibility and find creative ways to communicate with and listen to Somali citizens.

This strategic communications support was also aimed at increasing collaboration and trust between different levels of government, particularly between the federal government, Federal Member States (FMS) and district administrations e.g. by supporting and encouraging different levels of government to engage on common platforms, whether through a radio interview or a launch event.

SMDC produced and disseminated a radio and TV show called Qaran (Nation in Somali) which went out live on Star FM Somalia and Star Television Network (STN TV) where listeners and viewers call in and contribute via the telephone numbers 0616000555 (calls) and 411 (SMS).

In the final segment of every episode, the presenter read SMS feedback from audience members.

Both the radio and TV talk-shows were repeated on Star FM and STN TV respectively for maximum impact.

SMDC, among other things, also provided hands-on training, communications support and advice to the government institutions on the ground in Somalia.

Prior to undertaking the strategic communications support effort, SMDC carried out a thorough comprehensive map of current communications capacity-building work being implemented at the federal, FMS and district levels.


GIZ: Fish for nutrition media campaign project in Kismayo, Somalia

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH or GIZ is implementing a Fish for Nutrition Project (FNP) to improve Food and Nutrition Security of Vulnerable Population in Kismayo, Somalia through Access to Fishery Products.

In 2018, SMDC was GIZ’s media partner and conducted an awareness campaign in the southern Somalia coastal city of Kismayo to raise the level of awareness on the nutritional benefits and value of fish consumption among vulnerable people and the application of such knowledge in their lives.

The campaign, dubbed ‘Dish on Fish’, was aimed at encouraging families living in and around the coastal city to start including fish in their daily diets. The campaign was also aimed at raising awareness about the nutritional benefits of eating fish and appropriate methods for preparing and preserving fish among returning refugees, internally displaced persons & vulnerable residents of Kismayo.

Initial measures to promote fish consumption, including road and radio shows as well as road-shows, have caught the attention of the population and even encouraged residents to change their eating habits.

SMDC produced and broadcast radio dramas, Public Service Announcements (PSAs), radio/TV panel discussions, vox pops, roadshows and organized a cooking competition for the residents as part of the ‘Dish on Fish’ awareness campaign and conducted stakeholder consultations in Kismayo.

During the FNP media campaign in Kismayo, Star Media Development Centre (SMDC) conducted the following media activities:

  • Radio Dramas
  • Public Service Announcements (PSAs
  • Radio and TV Panel Discussions
  • Promos/Trailers/Reminders
  • Vox Pops
  • Roadshows
  • Cooking competition
  • Social Media campaign

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SMDC organises competition to promote fish consumption in Kismayo, Somalia

The first-ever fish cooking competition held in the southern Somali coastal city of Kismayo attracted more a dozen participants as part of an awareness campaign to significantly increase local fish consumption.

Participants from the city’s five neighbourhoods – Guul-wade, Farjano, Calanley, Fanoole, and Shaqaalaha -tried their hand at cooking fish in the competition held on 24 December 2018.

The contest, organised by Star Media Development Centre (SMDC), was won by Luul Mohamed Guure from Kismayo’s Alanley neighbourhood. She was awarded a prize consisting of a certificate and a trophy.

The contest was part of an effort by German development agency GIZ to raise awareness about the nutritional values of eating fish.

Alanley administrator Osman Farah Bando said participants were a role model for other women in Kismayo.

“You must now impart these skills you have acquired in others so that they can benefit as well,” he said.


Before the competition, several short radio dramas in Somali, TV and radio talk-shows, public service announcements and roadshows conducted by SMDC highlighted the nutritional values of fish, focusing on the benefits for returning refugees, internally displaced persons & vulnerable residents of Kismayo.

Although Somalia has the longest coastline in Africa, after Madagascar, fish consumption remains low and fish is not part of most people’s diet.

The awareness campaign, dubbed ‘Dish on Fish’, was aimed at encouraging families living in and around Kismayo to start including fish in their diets. The campaign was also aimed at raising awareness about the nutritional benefits of eating fish and appropriate methods for preparing and preserving fish among returning refugees, internally displaced persons & vulnerable residents of Kismayo.

The campaign caught the attention of the population and even encouraged beneficiaries and participants to change their eating habits.



UNHCR Somalia: TRS media campaign on irregular migration (Tahriib)

Every year, hundreds if not thousands of Somali refugees and migrants die while trying to seek asylum and migrate in an irregular manner (Tahriib) to Europe and elsewhere.

To raise awareness on the dangers of these Tahriib journeys, UN refugee agency UNHCR has launched a campaign dubbed Telling the Real Story (TRS). The campaign is part of a UNHCR global initiative, which targets a diverse group of people, mainly the youth who may consider embarking on such a journey.

In partnership with UNHCR, Star Media Development Centre (SMDC) produced and aired Vox Pops and an hour-long Televised Talk Show in Somalia as part of the UN agency’s Telling the Real Story information campaign in a bid to respond to the rising number of Somali refugees and migrants perishing in the Central Mediterranean each year.

SMDC’s objective in undertaking the campaign was help the UNHCR inform Somali refugees and asylum seekers in countries of transit and first asylum of the full scope of the perils and difficulties of irregular movement and ultimately enable them to take an informed decision about their movements and plans for the future.

The campaign also aimed to expand the reach of messages and drive an intra-community dialogue on Tahriib through cooperation between UNHCR and SMDC to reach out to Somali communities in the Horn of Africa.



UNHCR Kenya: Estabilishing Radio Gargaar for refugees at Dadaab

With funding from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), SMDC established Radio Gargaar in Dadaab and continues to broadcast programming from the refugee complex.  The aim of setting up Radio Gargaar’s studio in Dadaab was to help refugee refugees develop radio programs for an estimated Somali audience of 300,000 people.

The establishment of Radio Gargaar studio in Dadaab was aimed at enforcing information sharing and enhancing development activities at the camp.

The station also provides jobs to refugee community journalists and mobilisers who will take the lead in running daily activities and empowering young refugees.

Radio Gargaar was established after realising the need for refugees to access accurate information and raising awareness about world events and important commemorations.

Gargaar, which means “Assistance” is a name derived from the Somali language, common among nationalities at the camp.

In 2014, UNHCR, the UN refugee agency  established a “Ask UNHCR” weekly live radio talk-show on Radio Gargaar, which is run by Star Media Development Centre, to interact with the refugee community in Dadaab camps.

The talk-show complemented UNHCR’s daily field visits and monitoring work. The show was aimed at providing general public information that will complement UNHCR’s service delivery activities in camps. Each UNHCR sector unit including Protection, Health & Nutrition, Community Services, Education, Environment, External Relations, Technical and Field participated in the live discussion.

The talk show was an important community outreach initiative handy for situations where security conditions for humanitarian workers are precarious. It was generally a question-and-answer live thematic group discussion which was aired on a weekday for two hours on Radio Gargaar.


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OPINION: Seeking peace needs an enterprising foreign policy

By Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu

This week Istanbul will host two separate but related international conferences on mediation. One will be devoted to the state of play in the conflict map and capacity for mediation within the membership of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The second one will adopt a broad scope and discuss the connections between sustainable development, peace and mediation; the ways to increase gender and youth inclusion in mediation processes; and a thought provoking session on the role of big data and artificial intelligence in conflict and mediation analysis. It may be thought that conferences are conferences but the Istanbul Mediation Conferences have proven rather influential in cultivating a shared understanding of issues and an agenda for action in the field of mediation and peaceful conflict resolution. As the host of these conferences and the only country that co-chairs the Friends of Mediation Groups in three distinct important international organizations, namely the United Nations, the OIC and the OSCE, Turkey has the ability to share the findings of these conferences in these international organizations.

The fact of the matter is that humanity is facing a distinct challenge in the 21st century. Just when many people thought that the glass is half full in terms of the achievements in international law, institutions, democracy and the rule of law, accountability, free trade, gender equality and others, the empty half of the glass has begun to reassert itself. The symptoms are known to all of us and need no reminding. Trade wars, new forms of international exploitation, geopolitical competitions, great power proxy wars, disintegrating nation states, terrorism, xenophobia, animosity against Islam, raging inequalities and injustice count among the contemporary trends that make up the glass half empty. The challenges of humanity are eating away the achievements and opportunities of humanity. Which side will prevail? The answer depends on how we respond to challenges, including on how much we humans can work together towards positive outcomes. One point is clear: unless we take initiative and be enterprising and humanitarian, the bad will prevail. Wait-and-see attitude is no longer tenable. Policy options differ from mediation to actual use of force against terrorists.

Take the situation in Syria. Turkey’s enterprising and humanitarian approach cleared a total of 4000 square kilometers from two terrorist organizations, DEASH and PKK/PYD/YPG. Had we not intervened, our people would have been under continued assault from these terrorists and a political solution to the Syrian tragedy would have been unreachable. Turkey is doing utmost to relieve humanitarian suffering, hosting the greatest number of refugees worldwide, spending more than the biggest economy in the world as the world’s top humanitarian spender. Turkey is also brokering agreements that save tens if not hundreds of thousands of lives and promoting a political solution based on the territorial integrity of the neighboring Syria.

I gave the example of Syria for a reason. Syria demonstrates to us once again that prevention is important because once the fire of conflict engulfs a nation, then the only thing that remains predictable is that there will be unpredictable consequences on that state. One generation of citizens will be wasted in one way or the other; the future will also be bleak. Everyone, including those who are thousands of kilometers away will come to suffer, either in the form of terrorist threat, economic shock, irregular migration, or wounded human conscience.

If prevention and peaceful resolution of conflicts are of paramount importance, then we must take it seriously. This appreciation is driving Turkey’s efforts in the field of mediation as the co-chair of the UN, OSCE and OIC friends of mediation groups and the host to a capacity building mediation training program and the two mediation conferences that we will organize in Istanbul this week.

Mr Cavuşoğlu is the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey


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Jubbaland president visits SMDC stand at Kismayo trade fair

The 2nd annual Jubbaland Trade Fair has opened in the southern Somali city of Kismayo, with several Somali organisations including Star Media Development Centre participating.
The fair is aimed at offering Somali businesses in the region a platform to promote their goods and services. Organised by the Jubbaland Ministry of Trade, the fair comes to a close on Friday, November 30.

Jubbaland President Ahmed Madobe visited the exhibition stand of the Star Media Group.