Civil society organizations working in Kwale County will soon have a central secretariat if the talks among leaders of various local organizations bear fruit. The objective of establishing an umbrella body for the local community based organizations and groups has been made necessary by the presence of so many organizations whose mandate is not clear. The proliferation of groups doing community work has resulted in duplication of projects and activities whose impact is hardly felt on the ground.
In September last year, the local CSOs operating mainly in Msambweni, Matuga and Kinango held a meeting in which it was resolved that the civil society should strengthen networks and have common positions on issues affecting the community. Subsequently, an idea of coming up with Kwale County Civil Society Working Group (KCCSWG) was floated. Though largely a loose out, the group has been instrumental in bringing various organization working in Kwale to adopt a common position on a number of governance issues of interest to the Kwale people. Among the issues that the group has made its presence felt in include the Mining Bill 2014, the Kwale County Bursary Bill which has since been enacted into law. Recently, the group was among participants in the poorly attended meeting to discuss the public participation bill at Red Cross hall in Ukunda.
The group representatives led by Kwale Human Rights Network Coordinator George Jaramba, poked holes in the bill which they informed the County Assembly’s Committee on Justice and Delegated Legislation that needed more input from the public before it is taken for debate in the assembly. The group also presented views to the task-force on historical injustices which sat in Mombasa late last year.
But the group now seeks to formalize itself and play a more vital role of establishing strong networks and work towards influencing policy direction at the county government departments. If it finally formalizes, the group’s likely pioneer members will be Kwale Human Rights Network (Kwale Hurinet), Kwale County Natural Resources Network (KCNRN), Kwale County Education Network (KCEN) and Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI) which operates in all the six coastal counties.
Others include Lamukani CBO and Msambweni Human Rights Watch (Msamwatch) both of which are affiliate members of Kwale Hurinet. The three networks are currently partnering with Aga Khan Foundation-Kenya in Kwale to implement a project dubbed Citizen Voices in Governance. The project focuses on promotion of gender equality, education and livelihoods through sustainable development. The three networks are working closely with the relevant departments at the county government to implement the project aimed at enhancing equal opportunities for gender participation in governance as well as address the dwindling education standard in Kwale. The livelihood component which is undertaken by KCNRN is crucial in uplifting the lives of the local populace in the face of the increase of extractive industry in the sub-region.
Aga Khan Foundation-Kenya Coast Regional Manger Atrash Mohamed addressing a capacity building workshop at Hillpark Hotel in Kwale