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YouTuber turns to documentaries to show life in Turkana and Somaliland

Nelly Oteki
Vlogger Nelly Oteki, who makes money from uploading environmental videos on YouTube. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG 

Freelance journalist Nelly Oteki prepared a 10-minute documentary about life and economic activities in Somaliland where she celebrated the vibrant life and agriculture around its capital Hargeisa.

Ms Oteki, donning a hijab, a must-wear the headscarf for Muslim women, saw fear of insecurity and hopeless lives ebb away as she drove around town, sat in a three-day investors’ forum and visited a 45,000-chicken poultry farm.

“It is a progressive State and Kenya has a lot to learn from its private sector-driven sustainable enterprises. As a people, one should not harm the environment by pollution or clearing vegetation to earn a living,” she adds.

Ms Oteki’s film posted on her Youtube channel excited the Somali community across the globe with many praising her film and inviting her to pay a second visit to Somaliland but it also ignited a vicious ‘clan’ war on the state of life in Somaliland, which split from the rest of Somalia in 1991 upon the ouster of dictator Siad Barre.

“I enjoyed high ratings with 13,000 views reported in a week, 166 likes and 123 comments,” she recalls, adding that Hargeisa poultry farm has 45,000 layers, hundreds of sheep, goats and cows.

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This earned her a tidy sum that she invested in buying a drone as well as a handheld wireless camera to complement her video camera and still picture digital camera.

The mother of two trained as a broadcast journalist at Kampala University but opted to work via short contracts which gave her leeway to do what she loves most: Shooting videos that define the community’s way of life in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This attracted some moneyed corporate entities and non-State agencies that sent her out for specific articles across Kenya and into East Africa earning her as much as Sh100,000 a month.

“I give a voice to people without the internet but are doing marvelous activities that improve humanity, the environment as well as build cohesive communities,” she says of her Lake Turkana piece entitled ‘But me, I love Turkana’ that has been posted in a three-series outlay.

For Ms Oteki, working as a freelance documentary film-maker has given her new openings that she says are available only on the internet.

“My uploads on Youtube do not earn me money but companies and non-State agencies keen on promoting SDG activities hire me and my equipment for their activities across East Africa.

In Turkana county, Ms Oteki’s upload celebrates waterfront views but moans lack of a low-cost mechanism to light up homes in the vast county, power cold storage facilities to reduce the losses incurred by fishermen as they await arrival of buyers.

“They sell the fish at low prices to middlemen who transport the same to major towns and sell at tidy sums. The fishermen could enjoy better prices if a cold storage facility was provided and better direct links to retail chains made to enable them eliminate the middlemen," she said.

In Tanzania, deaf workers awed her with their glass bottle recycling skills where discarded glass bottles are turning into attractive pieces of art. This has generated a sustainable glass bottles collection chain that have many people employed across urban centres.

On her Samburu visit, Ms Oteki says inclusion of women in decision-making could help fasttrack development in pastoralist regions where women trek for long distances in search of water only to return home to conduct other chores.

Ms Oteki is still optimistic of getting funding to produce a three-season TV documentary on the green economy. Should it come through, the documentary will cover 13 episodes per season, totalling 39 episodes.

Creating a sustainable locally driven economy solves many social problems from generating new jobs, easing pollution blamed for most diseases, afforestation and churning out green enterprises, she says.

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