Youth involvement in Political Parties and Communication

 

The CMD and DLDP/DIPD cooperation is also aimed at strengthening communication strategies and tools of political parties in Kenya to enhance internal and external communication processes, applying, among other things, innovative internet/Smartphone platforms.

Implementation of the program is smoothly progressing on schedule as planned in the proposal. The activities so far carried out include:

  • Launch of the program
  • Communications needs and assessment workshop
  • Cross Party National Youth Conference
  • Communication for political parties workshop
  • Cross-Party Youth and Party leaders workshop
  •  Bilateral Communication Strategy Building workshops
  • Communications Strategy manual

Launch

The program was launched on Friday 4th November 2011 at a cocktail party grazed by Cabinet Minister Prof. Anyang Nyong’o (representing Prime Minister, Raila Odinga), Danish Ambassador to Kenya H.E. Geert Aagaard Andersen, Danish Delegation including two MPS (Hon. Karsten Lauritzen and Hon. Mads Rorvig), Chairman of the DLDP Board, DLDP Program Manager and consultants, CMD Board Chairman and Executive Director and Party leaders.

The other phase of the launch included a visit by a Kenyan delegation to Denmark from 29th November-4th December. The purpose of the visit was first and foremost to strengthen the partnership. Secondly, the visit was an opportunity for the Kenyan delegation to draw inspiration from various institutions and organizations in Denmark. The delegation was composed of CMD's Chairman, Hon. Justin Muturi, the Executive Director, Njeri Kabeberi, and finally MP, Assistant Minister for Northern Kenya and other Arid Lands, Hon. Hussein Sasura. During the three-day-visit, the delegation, among other things, visited Venstre's Head Quarters, The Liberal Youth, Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy (DIPD), and the Danish Youth Council (DUF).

Communications needs and assessment workshop

The objective of the workshop was to identify what political parties considered the most pressing communications issues or challenges facing them. This information is currently assisting in the development of more responsive intervention strategies that address the felt needs specific to each political party communication. Some of the needs the parties identified as priority if funded included the following: Training,  Radio and TV programs, Media space purchase, Video coverage, Press conferences, Broadcasting, IT and computerization, Media campaigns, Communication/ media strategies and plans, Party manifesto, Radio announcements, Newspaper ads,  ads, Youth activities, Communication equipment purchase,  Website, County workshops, Capacity building, Campaign strategies, Strengthening communication unit/dept

 Cross Party National Youth Conference

The objective of the workshop was to discuss ways of empowering youth and strengthening their participation in the political parties. Participants also deliberated on ideas and strategies for youth participation in the forthcoming general elections as well as how to mobilize/energize youth for national leadership.

The activity was held on 2nd November and attended by 71 female and male young politicians/political party leaders drawn from 25 different political parties in Kenya.  DIPD/DLDP delegation consisting of Karsten Lauritzen (MP, Danish Parliament), Mads Rorvig (MP, Danish Parliament), Nanna Louis Jensen, Hanne Lund Madsen and Helene Horsburg were also in attendance alongside Kenyan youthful MPs, Hon. Abdikadir Mohamed and Hon. Rachael Shebesh.

Key note speaker, Hon. Abdikadir Mohammed emphasized the fact that youth have the numeric strength and therefore a head start in politics. However, they need to develop relevant social policy ideas that connect with the masses. In sharing their experiences as young political leaders, Danish MP’s Hon. Mads Rorvig and Hon. Karsten Lauritzen said youth have ideas especially on issues concerning them and can help in reaching out to other young voters.

Communication for political parties’ workshop

The 2 day workshop was held on 8-9th November; attended by 26 of the 27 member parties of CMD Kenya with each being represented by 2 participants. As directed, political parties sent representatives responsible for communications functions in their parties. Thus the participants included Secretary Generals, Secretaries in charge of information and publicity, Executive Directors and Communications Officers. The workshop aimed to promote youth cooperation in political parties and enhance communication skills with an emphasis on social media and campaigning.

The workshop was facilitated by Kenyan and Danish experts in Communication and political campaigning. The facilitators were: Soren Toft (Director of Communication - Copenhagen School of Business), Jens-Kristian Lutken (Information Officer - the European Movement and parliamentary candidate in September 2011 Danish elections), Alex Chamwada (Royal Media Services), Frankline Mukwanja (CMD-Kenya) and Hanne Tornager (DLDP Project consultant). 

Among the topics discussed included: Political campaigning and social media, How parties can deal with media relations in a democracy, Communicating in politics, Relationship between media and political parties in Kenya today, How to attract youth to a political party and strengthening their role, Crisis communication, Strategies and tactics of modern campaign.

Cross-Party youth and party leaders workshop

This one day workshop brought together party leadership and youth representatives to discuss and identify needs and priorities for youth involvement in political parties and communication. Political parties were represented by the Secretary General or an official responsible for communications in the party and two youth leaders (male and female). Additionally, young people from various interest groups and sport disciplines were invited to participate.

Two facilitators were enlisted to make presentations and shape discussions during the workshop which discussed the role of youth in improving internal and external communication for political parties, priority needs, challenges and opportunities of young politicians in Kenya today and avenues for youth involvement in political parties.  Participants shared experiences and gained knowledge specifically on priority needs for their involvement in political parties and communication.

Bilateral Communication Strategy Building Workshop

Strengthening communication strategies and tools of political parties to enhance internal and external communication processes is a key component of the DLDP/DIPD program. The communications needs and assessment workshop, communication for political parties workshop and cross-party youth and party leadership workshop formed part of buildup engagements to help political parties develop their own communication strategies for successful campaigning.

The objective of the workshop is to achieve a draft communication strategy outline for each party. The training covers subjects about: choosing policy issues for a campaign, defining target groups, developing messages, choosing channels and developing an implementation plan. Participants are explained to about each section of the communication strategy, given an opportunity to seek clarifications if any and are challenged to undertake an assignment in specific political party groups, thereafter make presentations followed by plenary discussions led by facilitators to shape and fine tune ideas. 

To realize maximum impact of the communication strategy training workshops, CMD-Kenya has clustered the 27 member political parties into seven groups. Political parties are now capable of working in small groups of 5 making it easy for the project consultant and CMD Kenya Communications Officer to give almost individual guidance to participants in the development of the communication strategies. Two trainings are scheduled to take place in the month of December with the 8 political parties achieving a template to fill in their strategy. The remaining five trainings are scheduled for January 2012.