Between August 2012 and January 2013, the Tana Delta area of eastern Kenya experienced a series of massacres between the Orma and Pokomo ethnic groups. The killings took the lives of an estimated 166 people and displaced tens of thousands from their homes. These killings have impacted both the local economy as well as other ethnic groups living in the area. The situation has been relatively stable since January 2013, but underlying causes of tension in the area continue to pose a risk of future violence and escalation.

A Sentinel Project team deployed to Kenya in February 2013 found that rumours and deliberately created misinformation have fueled conflict between the Orma and Pokomo. In partnership with iHub Research and the support of International Development Research Centre, we will use crowdsourced data from these two communities and others to map the origins and flow of misinformation within the Tana Delta. We will also test the effectiveness of countermeasures in reducing the influence of misinformation. Information and communications technologies will play a key role in collecting data and disseminating counter-messaging, via both SMS (text messaging) and voice communication.

Our aim is to gain a better understanding of how misinformation forms and spreads amongst Orma and Pokomo communities in the Tana Delta area as a means of preventing violence, while promoting peacebuilding initiatives between these two groups.

The name of our project, Una Hakika, is Swahili for “Are You Sure?” which is a question we hope community members of the Tana Delta region ask themselves and others before passing on potentially incendiary information.

We’ve recently arrived in Kenya and our team will travel to the Tana Delta Area shortly. Over the course of the next month we will regularly deliver updates on the progress of this project, so please stay tuned.