Kenya Strategizes To Fight PovertyExecutive SummaryThis document is purposed to provide the mandate for ActionAid Kenya’s work in which the objectives and strategies mentioned here form the strategies accountability to inform and empower its members and to help the other stakeholders to recognize opportunities and constraints for uniting in the fight against poverty in Kenya.ActionAid Kenya is among the larger international Non-Governmental Organizations that has four regional offices including its main centre in Nairobi, it works with over one million poor Kenyans across the country, it also supports the work of over fifty Non-Governmental Organizations in the filed of poverty eradication.IntroductionPoverty in Kenya is caused and perpetuated by a set of power relations that deny life-skills, Assets and resources to Kenyans. This course deprives the people of their basic needs and is the main cause of the violation of their rights.The Kenyan state has a responsibility to protect, respect and fulfil the basic rights of its citizens including their rights to satisfaction of their basic needs, to information and participation in the development process.
The poor and marginalised people need to develop their capabilities to claim their right. ActionAid Kenya whose strategy lies on two factors, that is, strengthening poor people and their organisations to claim their rights and also to create an enabling policy and institutional environment for poverty eradication.ActionAid Kenya positions itself as a facilitator of development processes in its development initiatives, it strengthens the organizations of the poor to plan, manage and implement anti-poverty projects and help in building capabilities that will allow the poor to claim their rights.
ActionAid Kenya links the organisation of the poor with the machinery of the local government and administration it also works constructively and critically with the government, donors and the private sector on issues affecting, donors and the rights of the poor. ActionAid Kenya builds strategic relationship and alliances with other Civil Society Organisations and networks that share its mission and actively engage in influencing public policy, thus helps in building the capacity of such organizations to effectively promote their policy agenda.It joins other countries programmes in the African Region and other members of the global ActionAid on the three international campaigns: Food Rights, Education Rights and HIV/AIDS, it ensures adequate desk and research and informs its evolving positions and that its campaigns are sufficiently linked to field experience.ActionAid Kenya supports the national level Basic Needs are Basic Rights (BRBR) campaign which seeks to introduce a bill of rights in the new constitution. It commits itself to examine potential impact on the rights of women, children in difficult circumstances and pastoralists-groups for which it has a special concern. In all its work ActionAid Kenya ensures that the views and needs of women are adequately considered, whereby it supports the Civil Society Organisations which are committed to increasing women’s empowerment and enhancing gender equity whereby it joins others to endorse, promote and implement laws and policies that support women’s rights.The delivery of this strategy requires a dedicated staff and internal culture that is empowering. AAK deepens the process of decentralisation and devolution, the mainstreamed key roles among the staff include: Capacity Builder, Policy Advocate, Defender of Rights and a continuous learner, these rules support each other where all functions including finance, audit and administration takes on capacity building tasks.
DiscussionThe 2005 strategy paper is developed through a participatory process that included all staff of AfricanAid Kenya, other ActionAid and Alliance members, government, NGO and CBO partners and donors. It is believed that this strategy paper is fully owned by ActionAid Kenya staff and that most stakeholders have provided substantive input in its formulation.This paper summarises the state of external environment and provide the broad context for the directions it chooses to follow. The purpose of this paper is to empower staff, assist other stakeholders and enable accountability therefore the focus of the paper is on explaining the strategic directions that ActionAid Kenya will pursue on highlighting the main anticipated implications to the organization.According to the AAK approach to poverty in Kenya is caused and perpetuated by a set of power relations that deny life-skills, assets and resources to the people depriving them their basic needs and leading to violation of their rights which is normally caused by the violation of the rights of inequity and injustice particularly in the distribution and access to the resources. In essence the core poverty in Kenya include Hunger, insecurity, ill-health and lack of freedom and knowledge theses have to be eradicated in an absolute sense. ActionAid Kenya analysis of poverty states that the concentration of power and resources promotes imbalances that perpetuate poverty, whereby excessive concentration of power is the primary cause of injustice and inequity, this analysis explicitly incorporates the ideas of equitable distribution and justice in Kenya. The access to and control over resources including: information supports empowerment and decreases the gaps in power between groups.
Access and control over productive resources, private assets and public services which includes land, livestock, water, capital, information organization, life-skills and employment lack of these resources affect the capacity of the poor to secure food, clothing and other basic needs.ActionAid Kenya recognizes that eradicating poverty is a proposition that needs an action by all the major players, whereby it is committed to working in partnership with others to achieve the goal of poverty eradication, it collaborates with Community Based Organisations (CBOs), other NGOs and with Academic and Research institutions which are keen to make a difference, thus engaging itself with the government, donors and private sectors on issues affecting poverty and its eradication.It recognizes that most important players are the poor themselves with whom they are helped to analyse and reach positions on policies that affect their lives.
ActionAid Kenya will particularly ensure that the voices and concerns of women and children are included explicitly on its programmes and priorities.It promotes the participation of poor people themselves in policy-making and governance forums that impact on their lives. AAK supports groups and organizations that are committed to linking poor people and their voices to local, national and global change thus taking its sides with the poor and oppressed without ambiguity or fear. In times of distress such as food emergencies and conflict ActionAid Kenya supports the human administration of relief supplies; it works to mitigate the underlying structural causes for such emergencies and conflicts. It works with the media to publicise issues and to raise awareness of the concerns of the poor, it also engages the government at all levels and on all levels and on all issues affecting poverty and governance and where necessary it challenges anti-poor policies and instruments and join with other to restore the rights of the poor.RecommendationThe objectives of the strategy should be to: Empower the poor by- strengthening the organizational capacity of CBOs in the Development Initiatives by improving the internal governance structures, finance management systems, skills knowledge and abilities.Work with CBOs to find sustainable solutions that address the immediate conditions of Poverty including HIV/AIDS and provide grant support where necessary. Raise levels of consciousness among CBOs about basic rights and the entitlements they can lay claim to with respect to basic services and governance.
Facilitate substantive links between CBOs and the Government in the process of implementing community projects, with projects supported by ActionAid Kenya such as water points or community based care for HIV/AIDS orphans, CBOs should generally retain control over finances and structures and the Government which could be contracted to provide technical support .Promote linkages, learning and dialogue between CBOs and support the formation of umbrella groups that can effectively negotiate member interests with outside actors. Support the participation of the poor particularly women, in all governance and policy formulation mechanisms both in local government and the administration, this would include schools and health committees.Promote an active culture that emphasizes the right to formation and support CBOs to demand information from all actors including government, other NGOs and ActionAid Kenya in order to promote local accountability to the poor.Creating an enabling environment-to influence change in policies, laws and institutions at national and international levels that is representative and protective of the interests of the poor and marginalized people this can be done by: Strengthening the institutional arrangement at local and national policy making forum to include the participation of the poor, particularly women, CBOS and other NGOS.
Supporting CBOs, NGOs and other Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in engaging constructively yet critically with the government and others on the issues affecting poverty and governance. Identify strategic CSOs partners in policy influencing and provide grant support for capacity building and program if necessary.Build and support network, strategic alliance and coalition with other like minded organisation including CSOS academia research bodies and key individuals on a core agenda that will contribute to poverty reduction.
Commission appropriate desk and action research on the core agenda for policy advocacy, Engage with government- election and administration –at all levels to feed findings from research and from all fields experience into public policy and law making,Engage international institution such as World Trade Organisations, International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, bilateral donors and the UN system to support poor position. Work with ActionAid Alliance to lobby and influence regional institutional such as the African Union and the Northern governments particularly the EU and the USA, Promote public-private partnership in the fight against poverty by engaging the cooperate sector ,utilizing opportunities to work with them and examining ways and means through which they can exercise good corporate citizenship.Lastly the state should promote gender equity and women’s empowerment and influence in the development process by undertaking gender analysis of policy issues to mainstream gender concerns in all the national campaigns Viz a Vis, food rights, child rights and HIV/AIDS through creating an improved gender policies and practices within ActionAid Kenya and its partners. ReferencesBarnett T. (2003): The effects of HIV/AIDS on agricultural production systems and ruralLivelihoods in Eastern Africa: a summary analysis, FAOForsythe, S. and Rau, B.
(2004): AIDS in Kenya: socio-economic impact and policyImplications, USAID/AIDSCAP/Family Health InternationalGovernment of Kenya (2001): Kisii Central PRSP: Consultation Report 2001-2004, Min. ofFinance and Planning, Nairobi, Govt. PrintersGovernment of Kenya (2001): Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper 2001-2004.
Min. of Financeand Planning, Nairobi, Govt. PrinterInternational Monetary funds (2002): Kenya: Country Strategy Paper: Investment ProgrammeFor The Economic Recovery Strategy for Wealth and Employment Creation 2003-2007, International Monetary Funds, Washington D.
C, Retrieved from,http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/scr/2005/cr0511.pdf, on April 9, 2007Kiringai, J.
and Manda, D. (2002): The PRSP Process in Kenya Second Meeting of the AfricanLearning Group on the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP-LG) Brussels, Belgium  Kiringai, J. and Manda, D. (2002): The PRSP Process in Kenya Second Meeting of the African Learning Group on the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP-LG) Brussels, Belgium.
 Kiringai, J. and Manda, D. (2002): The PRSP Process in Kenya Second Meeting of the African Learning Group on the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP-LG) Brussels, Belgium.
 Government of Kenya (2001): Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper 2001-2004. Min. of Finance and Planning, Nairobi, Govt. Printer