KwaZulu Natal, South Africa - The UmNyango Project, which is implementing this initiative, was established by Fahamu, a pan African organisation based in Cape Town, Nairobi, Dakar and Oxford. The UmNyango Project will use SMS technology for rural women and men to access information to and report incidences of violence against women and children, as well as violations of women's right to land. This initiative will be tested out in Dondotha, KwaDlangezwa, KwaGcwensa, Limehill and Muden, and if successful, will be rolled out on a wider scale.

As well as using text messaging, the project will be enable women in these areas to produce their own radio programmes which will be made available to local radio stations, as well as being distributed over the internet as 'podcasts'. Adv. Anil Naidoo, Project Team Leader said: "We have successfully tested the use of SMS technology for rural women farmers in KwaZulu Natal to access agricultural extension information. There is every indication that this technology will also work for rural women reporting on human rights abuse, including domestic violence." Fahamu, the organisation behind this initiative, has already won international awards for its ground-breaking use of new media to support the pan African campaign on the AU Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa. "We are delighted to be implementing this project in association with the Centre for Civil Society, Community Law and Rural Development Centre, Domestic Violence Assistance Project, Indiba-Africa Development Alliance, Participatory Development Initiative and the Rural Women's Movement," said Fahamu's Director, Dr Firoze Manji.

The Project is funded by the Dutch International Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries (Hivos). Clickatell, a company that provides global mobile messaging services, has donated free SMS credits so that relevant information on human rights may be transmitted to rural women and men. Patrick Lawson, managing director of Clickatell SA, said: "We are proud to be able to contribute to the promotion of women's human rights'. The partners are hopeful that there will be sufficient interest from other donor agencies, government and the private sector to enable this initiative to continue in a more sustainable manner beyond May 2007.

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