Home News General The Kenyan Dream Initiative

GALVmed’s Kenyan Dream Initiative campaign is an innovative multi-media advocacy initiative which aims to challenge attitudes to livestock amongst both the nation’s young people and policymakers in an inclusive way. It builds on the finding from pre-campaign research that seven out of every ten Kenyans see livestock as a key to creating prosperous future livelihoods – or, as the campaign puts it, to build their dreams.



The Kenyan Dream Initiative has several components and works at different levels: For the youth campaign, pro-livestock stories appeared in the June and July 2011 issues of Shujaaz, an award-winning comic which reaches some six million Kenyans. Shujaaz is the largest circulation periodical in East Africa: up to 600,000 copies are distributed through “The Nation” newspaper and via 12,000 Safaricom Mpesa (a mobile phone based money transfer system) outlets, the latter particularly important in more remote rural areas. The peak readership of Shujaaz is 18-26 year olds and it is drawn and written (in a combination of Swahili, English and cool vernacular Sheng) by Kenyans whose average age is 23. The stories and their underlying messages also reached a potential audience of 15million through daily radio shows syndicated to 22 local stations. Young people were invited to respond to the livestock-based stories using SMS, Facebook and other social media – the best of which were incorporated into the radio phone-ins and comics.
Rob Burnet who founded Shujaaz explains: “In Shujaaz all of our stories are character-led. In the first story in this campaign the charismatic DJ Boyie leads the readers and listeners through the issues. The story follows the fortunes of a fictional wannabe recording artist who learns the hard way that keeping chickens could have offered him a financial foundation on which to build his dreams. We also meet Eunice, who, back in the real world, has put herself through education and an internship by keeping chickens and selling eggs – she is now an employee at Shujaaz. Eunice was one of many young people approached to be the real-life face of the campaign. But the fact that most were too embarrassed to be featured, and to admit their dreams had been built on livestock, speaks volumes about the need for the campaign.”

For the policy-makers campaign, a group of over 100 Kenyan politicians and senior civil servants was selected, including those from the livestock, agriculture and planning ministries, and also their colleagues from the treasury and from other relevant NGOs, agencies and associations. They all received two packs which included illustrated briefings, copies of the comics, cartoons, advertisements and a cartoon cut-out showing Kenyans, from all walks of life, being carried on the back of a chicken – dubbed the Chicken of Change. This image, featured on the cover of this newsletter, is also depicted on a billboard located in close proximity to the Kenyan Parliament building. It urges people to ‘jump onboard’, supporting poor livestock keepers. Before and after surveys will test shifts in attitudes and awareness of the campaign among the national youth audience, and also the policymakers.

Hameed Nuru, GALVmed’s Senior Director of Policy and External Affairs, said:

“A focus on young Kenyans as well as policymakers was quite deliberate. With the age of the average Kenyan farmer having been recently reported as 59 years, with a third over 65, it is clearly important to change attitudes to keeping livestock and other forms of farming amongst the young. The tide of urbanisation sees lots of young people turning their backs on traditional agricultural livelihoods to find work in the cities. Unfortunately most of Africa is currently not creating jobs fast enough and youth unemployment is endemic. Although 70%of Kenyans rely heavily on their poultry, sheep, goats, pigs and cattle, the livestock sector received only 2%of gross government expenditure in 2010/2011. The core message of the campaign is that livestock secures livelihoods – so why aren’t African governments spending a bit more money on this vital sector, and why aren’t young Kenyans embracing this opportunity more enthusiastically. Part of our learning so far is that the livestock lobby has not been presenting compelling economic arguments for investment. Scientists have tended to frame arguments too narrowly – based, for example, on eradication of a disease or pest. We need to draw our alliance wider, to bring in a broader group including economists and social scientists, to follow up this campaign, which we hope will capture the hearts and minds of the policymakers.”