Kenya Civil Society Strengthening Program

Speeches Shim

What is the Kenya Civil Society Strengthening Program?

The Kenya Civil Society Program works with hundreds of civil society organizations to help them effectively advocate for governance reforms, conduct civic education and peace-building activities, and improve management of natural resources. The program also strengthens the capacity of civil society organizations, community based organizations, local peace structures and the Government of Kenya to reduce incidences of violent conflict and advance peace in the country.

Project Duration and Budget

September 2006 – September 2013
$35.5 million 

Who implements the Kenya Civil Society Strengthening Program?

Pact, Inc.

Where does the Kenya Civil Society Strengthening Program work?


What does the Kenya Civil Society Strengthening Program do?

The program provides sub-grants to approximately 260 organizations working to advocate for and monitor progress on important issues, including: elections; ethics and anti-corruption; land; human rights; devolution; the police; judiciary; rights for women, youth and persons with disabilities; peace building; and natural resource management.

The program provides training on organizational development, financial management, strategic planning, program design and management, networking and fund raising.

How is the Kenya Civil Society Strengthening Program making a difference?

Over 260 organizations received financial support totaling over $27 million – approximately one hundred of the sub-grants are currently ongoing.

The program assisted civil society to provide input and advocacy on key pieces of reform legislation. Bills successfully enacted include: Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Bill; National Land Policy; Political Parties Bill; Elections Bill; Forest Act; and Wildlife Policy Bill. Partners continue to monitor implementation of these new laws.

Civil society became actively engaged in civic and voter education regarding the proposed constitution. Efforts helped to ensure a peaceful referendum vote.

More than 5,000 people benefited from the improved management of more than half a million hectares of land.  The program has created viable, profitable nature-based enterprises and natural resource management activities.

Community relations in the Rift Valley and the Coast improved through peace-building activities.  Highlights include: the acceptance of returning IDPs; reconstruction of houses burned during the post-election period; disarmament and demobilization of militia members; resolution of simmering conflicts; and improved engagement with government institutions through peace committee structures and joint government/community activities.

The program strengthened the ability of the National Steering Committee to coordinate peace efforts countrywide, especially through District Peace Committees.

What key challenges does the Kenya Civil Society Strengthening Program face?

Until 2002, civil society organizations were systematically repressed by the government; in spite of that the sector was able to help lead the way to the restoration of multi-party politics in the 1990s and an end to the Moi regime in 2002.

There is a concern that following the successful passage of the new Constitution the sector is again playing catch-up with regards to reforms. Kenyan civil society is often seen to be performing well on the supply side (technical input) of the reform process, but it is frequently seen as weak and reactive on the demand side (advocacy). To many observers, civil society’s voice has once again become muted and disunited on key national issues, instead of being the driving force behind reform and holding the government accountable.

For more information:

John Smith-Sreen
Director, Office of Democracy, Rights and Governance
Tel: 254-20-862-2000

Dan Spealman
Activity Manager, Office of Democracy, Rights, and Governance, USAID Kenya
Tel: +254 (0) 20 862 2000

Kassie Mcilvaine
Chief of Party, PACT Kenya
Tel: +254 (0) 721 392 222

Updated March 2013