Colorful sketch illustrations and elaborate infographics on display at the workshop venue marked the end of a three-day workshop – Intermediate Training in Strategic Communication: Developing Alternative and Counter Narratives. The materials were developed by 17 participants from IGAD Member States plus Tanzania between 17th and 19th June 2019 in Nairobi, Kenya.

Through the participatory training participants were equipped with skills in message development, setting communication objectives, selecting audiences and working through a dissemination plan for the illustrations and infographics. Participants benefitted from a hands-on approach and developed the storyboards for the illustrations and collated information for their selected theme for the infographics. The final products had one running message thread – we all need to work together to provide alternative and counter narratives to people at risk of radicalization by violent extremist groups.

Chief Administrative Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kenya, Hon. Ababu Namwamba officially opened the workshop. “If we get it right at this level, we can be a step ahead of violent extremist organizations. We appreciate the role that IGAD is playing in rallying us to focus on critical issues in the region. This workshop exemplifies the spirit of partnership shown by IGAD actors across board. Your next role is to take this training opportunity to build a suite of ‘communication warfare’ in order to challenge established and emerging fake news and propaganda narratives,” he said when addressing the participants.

Hon. Ababu Namwamba, Chief Administrative Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kenya (center) arrives to open the Workshop accompanied by Dr. Simon Nyambura, Director, IGAD Center of Excellence for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (right).

The training was hosted by the IGAD Centre of Excellence for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (ICEPCVE). ICEPCVE also provides the same training in strategic communication at beginners and intermediate levels. The main objective of the workshops is to equip youth, women, civil society and faith-based organizations already involved in the countering violent extremism space with skills to enhance the development and dissemination of narratives to undermine extremist ideologies.

Andrew, one of the participants from Uganda, provides a light moment with a song.

“We all believe in one cause. We are creating a movement of state and non-state actors to ensure that we contribute to the shrinking of the space occupied by violent extremist organizations. We believe that strategic communication skills will play a big part in this. And we are grateful for the commitment and support of the Global Engagement Centre of the US State Department and USAID,” said ICEPCVE Director Dr. Simon Nyambura.

USAID/Kenya and East Africa Deputy Mission Director Patrick Wilson in his closing remarks said “It is not easy to sell ideas to people. We hope that we have given you the tools to promote the message of peace. You are going to have to be the leaders in your communities. I am proud of what you have developed in the last three days, and cannot wait to see what you will do in future.”

Dr. Sam Kamau (standing), Aga Khan University, guides the participants in using data on violent extremism to tell impactful stories using infographics.

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