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Annual Report


INTRODUCTION 2011 was a strong year for IREX Europe, and a year of successful but challenging projects and work. I want to particularly highlight our UK Foreign and Commonwealth funded work in Kenya and Somaliland where our teams endured significant hardship in their efforts to promote peace and tolerance in the region. In 2011, we trained young Somalis in the Nairobi suburb of Eastleigh and the refugee camp of Hagadera on the Somali-Kenyan border using Drama for Conflict Transformation (DCT) methodology. This method uses theatre to create a safe space for normally taboo subjects such as the drivers of conflict, women’s rights, radical Islam, and others. Many youth were initially hostile to the theatre work seeing it as a challenge to their belief systems as it brings young men and women together and uses music and dance. But almost without exception those who began openly hostile ended the programme with a new frame of mind and a more peaceful and tolerant outlook. Our work with theatre to promote peace and understanding in Kenya and in Somaliland has now reached thousands of Somalis and Kenyans. In Eastleigh some of the young people whom we worked with have gone on to form their own local community based organisation (CBO) and are continuing to use DCT with local youth to promote peace and understanding in their community. Elsewhere IREX Europe’s team of professionals continues to work to the highest standard. Our work with the European Humanities University, the exiled Belarusian University in Vilnius, Lithuania, through European Union funding, is continuing successfully. Through the project, we assisted the university’s Media and Communication’s department to update their curriculum and introduce a state of the art Journalism training centre – the EmediaHub. Young Belarusian students are now receiving modern practical based journalism education and a chance to make a difference in Belarus and have their stories heard and seen. I want to take this opportunity to thank our team at IREX Europe, our funders and partners, but most of all the many participants in our trainings and projects who hopefully have helped us make the world a little better.


Michael de Villiers Director




people reached through KOW Media’s Peace Caravan in 48 locations across Somaliland


of the facilitators in Kenya say that drama for conflict transformation is an effective way of combating extremism


Georgian media outlets, advocacy groups, civil society, and public sector stakeholders brought together in media/civil society/state dialogue events




journalists and media managers trained across the world

Where we worked Where we curently work

5,000 citizens involved in 72 debates about EU integration in Serbia


ABOUT OUR ORGANISATION… IREX Europe is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation created in 2004 and based in Lyon. It provides innovative programmes to improve the quality of education, strengthen independent media, foster pluralistic civil society development, and reduce conflict. The IREX Europe approach emphasizes partnerships with local development organisations to expand capacity, build sustainable institutions and affect change through training, partnerships, education, research and grant programmes. IREX Europe, registered as an association in France, has an annual turn-over of €1.8 million with funding support from multiple donors, including the EU, United Nations, and the British, Czech, and US governments. Deriving its founding principles from its network partner the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX), a US non-governmental organisation, IREX Europe has worked in more than 24 countries for the benefit of people striving to live in fairer, freer and more prosperous societies.

IREX Europe’s Staff Mike de Villiers is IREX Europe’s Director since its creation in 2004. He has over 15 years experience in journalism, international development and media programme management and extensive experience implementing programs focusing on journalism and media management, media law, and sensitive issues such as interethnic conflict. Flora Graioni is the Senior Programme Manager. She has been with IREX Europe since 2007, managing media and civil society projects funded by different organizations such as the EU, the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, and UN agencies. She is also involved in partnership development and project design.


Caroline Marmoz has been with IREX Europe since May 2010, with responsibilities in financial and project management. She is currently managing the Theatre and Film for Peace and Reconciliation in Somaliland project. Brenda Bogaert joined IREX Europe in January 2011 as a Programme Manager. She is currently managing Belarus: Improving Media Education and the Kenya: Theatre to Promote Peace and Understanding among Kenyan and Somali communities projects. She is also involved in partnership development and project design.


EDUCATION The European Humanities University (EHU) Media and Communication’s department launched the Emediahub in 2011, highlighting its new, modern journalism education focusing on television journalism and production, radio, print, and modern multimedia journalism. The hub and website were created as part of the Improving Media Education Project, funded by the European Union. The 30-month project implemented by IREX Europe and partnering with BBC Media Action aims to increase the capacity of the European Humanities University to train and equip independent media professionals to promote free and independent journalism in Belarus. The EHU, based in Vilnius, Lithuania, is currently the only Belarusian University committed to promoting academic freedom and the process of integrating a European higher education on BA and MA levels. The EHU Department of Media currently has 220 full-time students and 472 “low residence students” attending its

The human rights situation in Belarus remains amongst the world’s worst, with over a dozen political prisoners, including former presidential hopefuls and leading human rights defenders, currently behind bars. Freedom House ranked it 168/179 countries in its Press Freedom Index and has listed it amongst its 12 worst Internet enemies in the world. Since December 2010, public protests have been banned and activists routinely detained by plainclothes police. The state retains a monopoly on printed and electronic media, distribution systems and printing facilities and regards media as a service to perform propaganda functions. Several independent newspapers remain, but they are facing decreasing funding and increasingly limited access to distribution networks. Even in independent media outlets, human rights initiatives and issues are under-reported, while the state TV systematically uses its programmes to condemn political opponents, civil society leaders and activists.


programmes each year, divided among the three disciplines of Mass Communication and Journalism, Visual Culture, and Design and Visual Media. The EHU undergraduate programme in Media and Communications was established in 2005 to offer an independent alternative to Belarusian state universities. Until this programme was established, young people had no alternative in their own language to the state-controlled study of media and journalism. Through the project, IREX Europe and BBC Media Action have helped the EHU Media and Communications Department set up a multimedia training facility, revised the department’s curriculum, provided practical training for its professors and its students, helping ensure they receive practical training in television broadcasting, radio, print, and modern multimedia journalism. The trainings ensure students gain concrete, practical skills and a solid base in ethical, independent journalism.

The European Humanities University is a Belarusian University in exile based in Vilnius, Lithuania. Its mission is to combat the Belarusian State’s control and suppression of Belarusian citizens’ right to education. By providing an academic environment free of discrimination, it aims to promote democracy and human rights in Belarus. The EHU offers quality liberal education and research at the BA and MA level via classroom teaching in Vilnius and also through “low residence study.”



April 2010 October 2012

Belarusian journalism students and working media professionals



European Union

European Humanities University, BBC Media Action


CONFLICT MITIGATION Taking Drama for Conflict transformation into the refugee camps of Hagadera is a major challenge. Many of the youth, in particular the young men, are hostile to what are for them, unorthodox ideas. DCT is based on street theatre developed in Brazil in the 70s to reach out to street kids and brings together girls and boys using theatre, music and dance to help them address and discuss issues critical to them. The aim of our project and the reason for using DCT is to promote peace and reconciliation and in particular help young people avoid being sucked into the on-going conflict and extremism in Somalia, to encourage them to engage constructively in their communities. One of these at-risk youth was Bishar, a young 18 year old Somali boy, living in Hagadera. Very suspicious of the training, he wanted to interrupt the activities because according to him the training was ‘destruction of our culture,’ and a ‘decimation of our religion.’ He was against the use of music and the presence of women in the group. When questioned about the basis of his views, he stated in the Qur’an men are ‘superior to women’ and that men should control women for their own good. With this in mind, he discouraged the Somali girls in the

training to take any acting roles or to take part in group activities. He also wanted any musical activities to be stopped, based upon the view that music misguides the spirit. The project’s counsellor gently asked him questions about his beliefs, quoting the Qur’an. This also gave a forum for the other youth to express themselves without fear of reprisal by Bishar. The intervention was a real success, and by the next day his behaviour had transformed. From that day on, he became pro-active and enthusiastic, coming up with thought-provoking community solutions and interventions to the plays. He also developed friendships within the group and changed some of his more extreme views.

Hagadera is one of the three camps making up the sprawling network of refugee camps in Dadaab, in northeast Kenya near the border with Somalia. According to the UNHCR, at the end of 2011 more than 463,512 refugees were living in the camps, originally built to hold only 90,000. The region is remote and harsh, with temperatures of up to 48 degrees Celsius in the dry season and extreme flooding in the rainy reason.

as an attraction for idle youth. Many of the the camps’ children have never seen Somalia and are virtual prisoners. Although given free primary education, only a small percentage passes the examinations to make it into secondary school. As asylum seekers, they are not allowed to work, thus leaving the majority of youth both idle and frustrated while awaiting resettlement they may never live to see. Idleness inevitably leads to drug abuse, gangs, and attraction to radical groups such as Al Shabaab. These elements make the young men in the refugee camps particularly vulnerable and as such prime targets for recruitment into extremist organisations and criminal structures.

The presence of armed bandits and Islamist militias such as Al-Shabaab, as well as periodic outbreaks of clan feuding, means that the threat of violence remains very real for people living in the camps, as well


Drama for Conflict Transformation is a rich methodology that encourages improvisation and play to help participants develop new views and behaviours. In situations of entrenched conflict, where debate and historical analysis rarely serve to change minds, DCT unlocks the creative power of individuals and communities to adopt new perspectives and develop novel solutions. Not only is DCT a powerful tool for transforming attitudes, it also provides a platform for practicing conflict resolution strategies, as Bashir’s case shows.



September 2010 September 2011

Somali youth population; teachers, theatre-makers & NGO leaders



UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Somali Aid Foundation


MEDIA DEVELOPMENT The Support for Media Capacity in the Area of EU Integration project, funded by the European Commission, aims at strengthening the role of the media as Serbia works to make the changes it needs to join the European Union. The project provides technical assistance to local media in Serbia to enhance their capacity to inform the public about the many aspects of EU integration. This involves an understanding of the complexities of the EU, how the system works, the many treaties and rules. This doesn’t mean just painting a pretty picture of the EU but it does mean painting an accurate one so that the Serbian people have the information they need to have an informed discussion on the merits of EU membership and the obligations it

brings. Through the project, training and capacity building and an important grants programme, Serbian media have produced in depth reports on key EU issues and how they may impact Serbia. The project has also involved important management training and capacity building for Media across Serbia helping build the sustainability of Serbia’s media, particularly in the regions. As a result of the project, large sections of the Serbian population were reached, with almost 5,000 citizens involved in 72 debates about the EU integration. Not less than 500,000 people enjoyed access to quality media content, with TV programmes for example informing them about the ramifications of future EU membership and the potential effects on their lives.

Project Activities 1. Detailed baseline and endline studies on the quality and quantity of media coverage of EU integration issues in Serbia.

EU integration issues and building capacity for self-sustainable business development by regional and local media.

2. In-depth capacity-building programme for 70 Serbian journalists and 50 media managers from five regions - Novi Sad, Belgrade, Kragujevac, Nis and Uzice – involving workshops and study visits focused on improving media coverage of

3. Through the grants awarded in the Media Fund (1,8 million EUR), the project supports the production of a series of in-depth stories covering the process of EU integration in Serbia.

With European integration arguably the most important vehicle for economic, political and social development and reform in Serbia, the ability of Serbia to implement the Stabilisation and Association Agreement’s (SAA) acquis communautaire in general and the 2004 Communication Strategy in particular, is of critical importance not only to the European family of states, but to Serbia’s future.

between 2012 and 2015, a step-change in public debate is required. To help the Serbian people better understand the EU and the changes that will be taking place in their country, it is essential that journalists properly and fully understand both the EU and the SAA and how it applies to Serbia. Journalists also need to provide interesting and informative stories that shed light on the impact of EU integration on the economy, society, international relations, to name just a few.

However, if the government of Serbia wants to prepare the country for EU accession




December 2009 December 2011

Local and regional media

FUNDERS European Union

PARTNERS BBC Media Action Mreza PG Production Group LDK Consultants Engineers and Planners


SOME KEY FIGURES FOR 2011 Allocation of funds: 6.5%

- General administration: 6.5% - Program expenses: 93.5%

- Total Assets: 226,357 € - Total Liabilities: 458,477 € - Turnover: 1,288,279 € - Contracts: 94,665 € - Grants: 1,193,614 €



OUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE 2011 was a successful year for IREX Europe, with media development, civil society, education, and conflict mitigation/prevention activities implemented in Eastern Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Caucasus. The organization is well placed to continue further growth with funding from the EC, the British Government and other bilateral donors. In 2012, we will expand our drama for conflict transformation work to promote community integration among Kenyans and Somali refugees on the Coast of Kenya; commence a 3 year programme to train over 1200 journalists across 17 EU neighbouring countries and territories in partnership with the BBC Media Action; and will hold the first ever Peace Film and Picture Festival in Somaliland to showcase original work on conflict, peace, and reconciliation. We continue to build a reputation for excellent project design and management, and are constantly looking at new ways to increase our impact and ensure our continued success.


IREX EUROPE 53 rue de Saint Cyr 69009 Lyon, FRANCE Phone: +33 (0) 478 91 44 67 Fax: +33 (0) 478 91 44 67 E-Mail:

IREX Europe Annual Report 2011  

IREX Europe releases its 2011 Annual Report, highlighting our work in Education, Media Development, and Conflict Mitigation. We would like t...

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