Engaging with Kenyans to Improve Development
The USAID Kenya and East Africa Mission holds a critical position in a region experiencing growing public and private foreign investment and U.S. government initiatives, with a portfolio of more than $646 million and almost 240 activities.
MSI is leveraging our deep experience in East Africa and understanding of the bridge between international development and strategic communications to help USAID engage Kenyans in conversations about their future.
Working on an on-demand basis, we act as a “mini creative agency” from strategy to product development to implementation for USAID/Kenya and East Africa.
We revamped and pioneered the early implementation of a communications strategy to focus on two-way engagement and the use of modern data visuals and infographics. The strategy emphasizes local content to raise visibility across the target audiences of USAID’s wide and diverse programming.
USAID now reaches more Kenyan and American audiences with richer content by taking advantage of a vast array of platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flicker. For instance, the USAID/Kenya Facebook page, which MSI manages, ranks among the top 10 most active USAID mission pages with almost 280,000 followers.
After the onset of COVID-19, we pivoted in a matter of days to support the development of a critical communications and community engagement strategy to align the project with USAID’s COVID-19-related communications needs, including extensive stakeholder coordination. We also supported the collection and synthesis of information to identify gaps in knowledge, attitudes and practices related to COVID-19 to help USAID analyze how to multiply messages and influence behavior. As a result, communities across Kenya have been heard, reached and involved.
We have also helped USAID to successfully engage with new partners, including an innovative youth network of social ventures that uses short messaging service (SMS), social media, emojis and characters to reach their network of 7.5 million youth. As a result, the Mission is better able to engage in dialogue with a key target audience.
We also create integrated, digital campaigns to reach target audiences across East Africa and then assess their effectiveness. To celebrate International Peace Day in a way that would capture the attention of youth, we helped USAID to co-create the #16BarsforPeace social media challenge with popular Kenyan rapper, King Kaka. The campaign encouraged positive and authentic conversations about peace among young Kenyans using hip-hop as the language of expression.
On launch day alone, the campaign garnered over 2 million impressions on social media. Over three weeks, the campaign earned 800,000 likes, shares and comments and appeared more than 83 million times on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter timelines.
In June 2020, MSI expanded our strategic communications and outreach support to include the USAID/Somalia portfolio. MSI’s deep experience with USAID’s development and outreach communications teams stems from our work managing USAID’s global DOC Training Program for more than 10 years. Under that program, we created the “USAID Survival Manual for Development and Outreach Communications”.