To understand the transformational benefits of DARAJA in Nairobi, the project has deep-dived into the experiences of a few distinct stakeholders – Community leader, Radio presenter/journalist, Kenya Red Cross (KRC) disaster risk reduction officer and the main intermediary, KDI.

Increased Access

James Kirika is DARAJA Weather Mtaani leader in Nairobi. James is a resident of Laini Saba, one of the villages in the informal settlement of Kibera. His engagement with DARAJA started at the stage of co-designing the pilot services. He explains that accessing WCI has become much easier now. Not only is there an improvement in access, there’s also increased interest wanting to know about weather conditions. Prior to DARAJA, James did not know the importance of weather forecasts. This was true for others in the community as well. But now James gets daily and weekly weather updates.
Prisca from KDI, the main DARAJA intermediary NGO in Nairobi and project partner, reflects on this change as well. She indicates that the community is accessing weather information more now than they have been before, and now they are aware of the source of this information. Many of those who accessed WCI before DARAJA did know the source of the information.

“ I get the updates for dailly, I get for weekly, one year ago I did not even, actually I can’t remember myself wanting to know what’s about weather or climate. I didn’t have that interest, I didn’t have the urge to know how it will be tomorrow…”

James Kirika, Weather Mtaani Leader
Along with other Weather Mtaani leaders and other stakeholders such as radio presenters, Nairobi City County partners, Kenya Red Cross, etc., James has undergone training to better understand the terminology, language, etc., that’s used in forecasts. He says that this training helped him understand the terminology used in forecasts. A disaster risk reduction officer at KRC, echoes this assessment as well. KRC believes that it was really important to have had the workshops for different stakeholders to understand the implications of climate information and how to use it for early planning and early action.

“For example, showers, I didn’t know what showers, the real meaning of showers and I would think it’s a very big rain. So, it [training] made us understand weather in terms of how we usually see it and how we can make people understand the way it should be...”

James Kirika, Weather Mtaani Leader
Simplifying terminology to improve the understandability of forecasts was a common demand across all stakeholder groups. Philip Muhatia from Pamoja FM which is a community radio based in Kibera, explained that their listeners struggle to understand some of the words used in the forecast. So he was interested in engaging with DARAJA to understand the information and present it in a simplified manner on the radio. In fact, prior to DARAJA, Pamoja FM did not have a dedicated segment on WCI.

Increased Use

Speaking for the wider community, James says that people are now able to better understand the relationship between weather and early action. He shares the example of how the community did a drain clean up a day before the rains started and later noticed that water was not flooding into local shops and houses as it usually did. Following this, the community realised that they should keep the drains free of blockage so that rain water doesn’t accumulate and trigger flooding. KRC has also noticed the community taking actions like clearing drainages when KRC issues flood alert warnings. KRC says that they are noticing a reduction in the number of community members who are affected by floods.

Prisca from KDI finds that people have become more resilient as they are now better aware of the impacts of flooding and how to prepare themselves for it. As people have found WCI to be very valuable, they have been sharing it with other community members as well.

From the perspective of an NGO, KRC describes the significant change that their communications have experienced due to DARAJA. They are now incorporating the weekly, monthly and seasonal outlook forecasts into their disaster hazard communications. They are now able to create a lot of awareness in the community.

In terms of mass communication, Philip explains that following their engagement with DARAJA, they are using WCI in their content planning process. Prior to DARAJA, shows that were dedicated to WCI did not feature much in their content. This is reflected in their increased listenership and engagement from the audience. Philip says that the audience trusts the information that they hear on Pamoja FM and they like that they get timely information.

"This season I wanted to grow maize but I noted that the predicted rain was going to be average or below average. I had to switch to something else which does not require heavy rain."

Husna Shechonge, Community Leader

Increased Demand with KMD

James indicates that there is a positive change in the relationship between the community and KMD. He says that the community is more appreciative of KMD’s work. James attributes these changes to DARAJA, particularly his own interest in WCI.

“When we were starting...they were telling us these guys are you know, they lie, they don’t say the truth, they don’t predict correctly...the accuracy is better or good as compared to when [we] were starting.”

James Kirika, Weather Mtaani Leader
KRC has noticed this change as well. They explained that DARAJA was key in bridging the gap between community and KMD. Due to this process, KMD has been able to understand the requirements and challenges of the end user. For example, the outcome of this better understanding of user needs has been the improvement in the icons used to depict weather conditions and the way the forecasts are released.

“...DARAJA gave a very nice platform where actors and even the community were able to ask questions that were previously not asked or never answered, because there did not exist a platform.”

Kenya Red Cross
Philip also shares this view that DARAJA has created a very useful platform. Before DARAJA, Pamoja FM did not have a direct relationship neither with KMD nor with county Government or KRC. But through the process of engaging with DARAJA, Pamoja FM has been able to get together with the various stakeholders to discuss weather related issues and best approaches to reach people.

“So it is not about just receiving reports and publishing the reports. It is about also getting together to discuss issues; we discuss the best approaches that we can use so that we can also reach the people. So I can say in terms of bringing communities together DARAJA has actually been able to do that.”

Philip Muhatia, Pamoja

Community based NGO, KDI, agrees that KMD has supported the project, KDI and the community very well. Due to this DARAJA ‘network’ of stakeholders, KMD is now well connected with actors on the ground who work on weather and climate related issues.

Speaking on the change experienced by DARAJA’s main intermediary NGO partner – KDI, Prisca says that KDI has been able to engage with stakeholders from other parts of Nairobi. This sentiment is shared by community leaders as well who have spoken about their social network which has now extended to other settlements. KDI has also been able to engage with other Sub-Saharan countries as well, for example, Tanzania. As DARAJA was a different type of project from the typical KDI project, they have now expanded their expertise and have become known in the community for sharing forecasts and helping prepare for high-impact weather.

“...I have gone to other informal settlements because of DARAJA so that made me learn a has really helped them because the community is alert with the information and they take action based on the SMS which are shared to them.”