153 13Local champions:towards transparent,accountable governancein Embakasi, Kenyaby EDWINE OCHIENG and CYNTHIA OCHOLA ANYANGOIntroduction and consequently their fundamentalEffective community participation can human freedom.contribute to generating practical ideas and This article is about a counter example.developing these ideas into high quality Embakasi is a district in Kenya with asustainable action plans. Resisting social population of 619,390 (KNBS, 2009). Itinjustice is easier when you have strength was one of the districts severely hurt by thein numbers, the right information and post election violence of 2008. Youths wereappropriate tools for engagement. involved in crimes such as rape, killings In Kenya, the limited progress in gover- and property destruction in the slum areas.nance and development is related to Embakasi is characterised by low levels ofcitizen’s minimal participation in shaping political awareness, apathy, high unem-them. Our political arena is not responsive ployment rates, poor sanitation, numerousto the needs of the majority, who include informal settlements and high prevalencethe youth, women, children and margin- rates of HIV/ AIDS. The district is home toalised groups, such as persons with many illegal gangs which extort moneydisabilities and those living with from the transport industry and createHIV/AIDS. Strong civic activism among havoc when confronted by the police. Sincethem is rare, capacity for engagement is many youths are jobless, they are attractedlow and awareness of ongoing governance into these gangs by the prospect of quickagendas is scant. Even given strong public- money.ity about current affairs, they may be In November 2009, a governanceunable to participate in governance if deci- programme was introduced by Plan Kenya.sion-making processes are closed to them. This article illustrates how this respondedYoung citizens particularly, emergent and to the governance and exclusion problemsvibrant as they seem, engage little with outlined above. The article is co-authoredState organs. This limits their voice, choice by Edwine Ochieng, a government official
154 64 Edwine Ochieng and Cynthia Ochola Anyango Photo: Peter Nderitu from the district office for gender and social development and Cynthia Ochola, a member of the Embakasi Youth Organisa- tion and secretary of Jipange Youth Organisation. We will show via the Embakasi experi- ence that young people’s organisations engaging in social accountability around service provision and other governance issues need to collaborate instead of competing.1 The capacity of these organi- sations needs to be promoted and strengthened, via training in leadership, governance and monitoring and evalua- tion. In these ways, coalitions of youth organisations can be enabled to play a role in implementing a coordinated response through a participatory governance process. We each wrote different sections from our distinct viewpoints. We first describe the establishment of the governance Edwine Ochieng facilitating during a governance programme, and go on to discuss in more workshop. detail aspects of the programme related to engagement with government, accounta- enable their informed and constructive bility, networking, social auditing, engagement. My experience as a project transparency and information and and development consultant was useful in communication technologies (ICTs). We guiding them to programme their initia- then reflect on the challenges we have tives in areas of constitution-making and faced, and draw out lessons from our expe- strategic planning. rience. CYNTHIA: During our third training workshop other participants and I decided The governance programme to form a coalition of youth groups to provide a platform for engaging in the Training events governance programme. We came up with EDWINE: Through the district gender and the name Jipange, a Swahili word mean- social development office in Embakasi, ing ‘self-plan’. The Jipange Youth Plan Kenya mobilised a group of 22 (9 Organisation consists of sixteen youth male and 13 female) young citizens drawn groups involved in various projects within from registered youth organisations for the community in areas such as reproduc- training on governance. This was to help tive health, rubbish collection, the youth develop an understanding of how construction, theatre and HIV/AIDs to engage with the local administration. My awareness. Many resources have been allo- role as a government official in the train- cated to institutions and committees at ing was to help them understand the grassroots level and our concern was operations, policies and programmes whether they are used for the intended undertaken by the government, so as to beneficiaries, mainly the vulnerable people 1For a definition of social accountability, see the glossary (this issue).
l Local champions: towards transparent, accountable governance in Embakasi, Kenya 155 Box 1: Jipange Youth Organisation and government officials embraced the youth. Among other things, they openly Our vision as a coalition youth group: a well- governed society and an empowered youth provided the information they sought. participating in decision-making processes. When Jipange participants decided to identify policy issues affecting young Our aims: improved development and democratic people in Embakasi, they visited various outcomes, through the active engagement of government offices to request information young citizens in policy, planning, resource mobilisation and programme implementation in on how youth involvement was supported sectors including youth and governance, in programmes and policy areas such as reproductive health and life skills, economic environment, health, unemployment, ICTs empowerment, environmental management and and insecurity. Security issues in Kenya are information and communication technology (ICTs). considered sensitive by the police. However, in his willingness to support thein the community. We identified and efforts by Jipange, the officer commandingstarted to engage with governance Kayole police division gave out statistics onprocesses, institutions and structures that the rate of crime in Embakasi. He chal-manage devolved funds in areas such as lenged the youth to be proactive ineducation, health and the environment. advocating for community policing. Once Plan Kenya had organised the Similar interactions occurred in allcapacity building workshop, we young government offices they visited. With thispeople took the lead. Government officials information they compiled a report calledattending the trainings shared with us their the ‘Embakasi youth agenda for gover-concerns and the activities undertaken by nance and development’, and shared it withtheir various offices. The constituency all who participated in the exercise throughdevelopment committee quizzed us on how a forum presided over by the districtinformation given to us would help the commissioner.community. We explained to them how weintended to increase accountability and Holding local institutions accountabletransparency in grassroots governance and CYNTHIA: Barazas are grassroots policydevelopment processes. meetings held at village levels and organ- The organisation later became a house- ised by chiefs, district officers and the localhold name in the district. The district administration to explain governmentcommissioner, attending a ceremony for programmes and policies to the people. Wethe youth enterprise development fund, attended several barazas to encourageadvised the youth in attendance to ‘emulate young people to take up the opportunitiesthe Jipange Youth Organisation in their offered by government, such as those inconsistent approach in demanding trans- Box 2.parency and accountability from grassrootsdevelopment committees’. Box 2: Key government programmes • Youth enterprise development fund – loansYoung citizen engagement with the local advanced to young people to promote theiradministration income generating activities.EDWINE: I became a key link person • Constituency development fund (CDF) – funds for improving infrastructure at grassrootsbetween the young people and the govern- level.ment officials, making it easier for a • Local authority service delivery action plancollaborative working relationship to (LASDAP) – means by which municipalities candevelop between these two key parties. initiate projects at grassroots levels.Initially neither found it easy to relate to • Local authority transfer fund (LATF) – to support street lighting and road repairs.each other. Gradually, this attitude changed
156 64 Edwine Ochieng and Cynthia Ochola Anyango A public district forum was held in districts in Kenya, to provide a platform for November 2010, attended by all district advocating on policy issues and good departmental heads and civil society governance at regional and national levels. organisations. At the forum, entitled ‘Embakasi youth agenda for governance Youths monitor government performance: and development’ we highlighted key social audits policy issues that we wanted the local EDWINE: A social audit is a way of meas- administration to address, revolving uring, understanding, reporting and around our aims (see Box 1). In attendance ultimately improving an organisation’s was the district commissioner, who social and ethical performance. It helps to commended the youths and promised to narrow gaps between vision and reality, work with his team to take up the concerns efficiency and effectiveness. It is a tech- we raised. Discussion on how to make nique to understand, measure, verify, every duty bearer responsible ensued, and report on and improve the social perform- a consensus emerged that grassroots gover- ance of the organisation (FAO, 2003). nance structures must be made In February 2010, with support from transparent and accountable to the public. Plan Kenya, the Embakasi youth The departmental heads committed to conducted social audits on government- incorporating our concerns into their funded projects at grassroots level. The respective work plans. Months later, the projects audited were those funded by the Ministry of Agriculture invited the chair- CDF and the local authority transfer fund man of Jipange Youth Organisation to (LATF). The aim of this exercise was as represent young people in the district agri- stated in Box 3. cultural stakeholders planning committee, In one school visited, worries were responsible for organising farmer’s field expressed about dubious contractors who days in the district, among other agricul- use political connections to get tenders tural activities. and later fail to fulfil them as specified. We generated a report on the outcome of the Networking: shared learning social audit, observing that projects were CYNTHIA: Jipange members, Plan gover- designed without community involve- nance staff and the district youth officer ment, some were incomplete due to delays visited Plan Kenya governance in government funds, and community programmes in Machakos, Kwale and members needed knowledge on project Tharaka districts. The purpose of these cycles and basic management skills. visits was to share and reflect on achieve- Completed projects were generating bene- ments, experiences and challenges and to borrow from best practices elsewhere. In Box 3: The aims of the social audit other districts, the young people had mini- • Assessing the physical and financial gaps mal ideas on how to engage with the local between needs and resources available for local administration. In Tharaka, for instance, it development. transpired that the local administration • Creating awareness among beneficiaries and had not shared with the youth information providers of local social and productive services. • Increasing efficacy and effectiveness of local on LASDAP and its possible benefit to development programmes. them. From these tours we learnt that there • Scrutiny of various policy decisions, keeping in was value in a collaborative approach when view stakeholder interests and priorities, working with the government and civil particularly of marginalised groups. society. This prompted us to register a • Estimating the opportunity costs to stakeholders when not getting timely access to national youth and governance consortium public services. in June 2010, with membership from seven
l Local champions: towards transparent, accountable governance in Embakasi, Kenya 157 Photo: Peter Nderitufits, such as access to affordable social serv-ices. The report was shared with thedistrict development officer, districtcommissioner and grassroots develop-ment committees.E-governanceCYNTHIA: Plan Kenya supported ourorganisation by installing an ICT resourcecentre. As members we established itspurpose as providing the public with accessto information, and promoting economicempowerment and e-governance. E-governance refers to the use bygovernment agencies of ICTs that cantransform relations with citizens, busi-nesses and other arms of government.These technologies can help improve thedelivery of government services to citizens, The Jipange Youth Organisation: a youth-friendlytheir interactions with business and indus- resource centre.try, their empowerment through access toinformation and more efficient govern- proposed supporting the construction ofment management. Ultimately they can public accountability boards – noticehelp reduce corruption and costs and boards used to display information onincrease transparency and revenue. By community activities supported by thenarrowing the distance between service government for the benefit of the people.providers and clients, our resource centre They are used to enhance transparency andhas become central in helping community accountability on resource use.members access government services The district commissioner accepted theonline. idea and proposed that they be put in key district offices including his own. Our role Box 4: Government online services was to help coordinate the information • Completing tax returns. posted on the boards and create awareness, • Tracking applications for identity cards and leading to their use to promote trans- passports. parency and accountability. However, it has • E-learning for Kenya certificate of primary education curriculum. not been easy to assess (yet) whether • Government advertised jobs. accessing this information is changing • Applying for devolved funds. service delivery or access to government services.Will transparency lead to accountability inEmbakasi? Box 5: Information provided on publicCYNTHIA: Many questions have arisen on accountability boardshow transparent and accountable grass- • Government departmental service charters.roots governance processes are to the • Devolved funds project details.community. Information on the use of • Government tenders.public funds was never made available to • Reports on use of public funds such as the youth fund.the public before, making it difficult to • Women’s enterprise development fund andknow the status of the many government- emergency contacts.initiated programmes. Plan Kenya
158 64 Edwine Ochieng and Cynthia Ochola Anyango Photo: Peter Nderitu Public accountability boards: set up in a partnership between Jipange Youth Organisation and Plan Kenya. Challenges and lessons learnt For Plan this was a development CYNTHIA AND EDWINE: Raising the process in which beneficiaries made their voice and participation of young people in contributions through participation and development and governance processes in needed only transport costs. Out-of-pocket Embakasi has had its challenges. allowances were not refunded. But many Awareness levels on accountability youth felt they should be granted among most community people, including allowances for time spent in the work- other youths, was very low. This meant shops, since many Jipange members were limited understanding and take-up of our jobless and faced other economic chal- initiatives. Government officials themselves lenges. As a result, many deserted and had no idea, for example, about the stopped engaging in our activities. purpose of public accountability boards. The most challenging aspect of this As a group, we lacked adequate support programme was the perception held by a for tracking our impact. There were few government officials and community instances where Plan Kenya was slow in members that our involvement in the gover- responding to our needs, leading to activi- nance programme was motivated by money ties falling behind the scheduled sub-granted to us by Plan Kenya, which was timeframe. For example, the public not the case. This obstructed our efforts to accountability boards, which may have a convince government officials to participate significant impact on local accountability, in certain activities and embrace us as were put in place almost towards the end of young people and provide the support we the project in October 2010, so we didn’t needed. Their failure to do so did not deter have a way to systematically track that us from implementing our activities, and impact over time. working closely with them as partners.
l Local champions: towards transparent, accountable governance in Embakasi, Kenya 159Photo: Peter Nderitu Public accountability boards. The Embakasi district service charter outlining the office’s role and core functions as well as its vision, mission and services.
160 64 Edwine Ochieng and Cynthia Ochola Anyango Photo: Peter Nderitu A public accountability board displaying information on community activities supported by the government. They are used to enhance transparency and accountability. Creating a broader collaborative participation in decision-making processes. network among key champions is neces- EDWINE: Building a partnership with sary for governance programmes to young people is not an easy or obvious task. succeed. So too is communities’ involve- Governments and youths rarely find ment in creating organisations which will common working ground and even when shape and effectively implement the gover- they do, there is normally suspicion to be nance agendas. The Jipange governance overcome. The collaborative working rela- initiative succeeded due to the involvement tionship between the Jipange Youth of sixteen individual youth groups that Organisation and me was helped by the were beginning to gain a voice in the fact that when Plan Kenya first introduced community. Through our joint collabora- the programme in Embakasi, they did so tion, we were able to boldly undertake the through my office, which also registered the governance programme and increase our organisation. This was the beginning of an
l Local champions: towards transparent, accountable governance in Embakasi, Kenya 161Photo: Peter Nderitu The Jipange Youth Organisation and visitors at the Plan regional youth and governance forum held at the Panafric Hotel. interesting journey. Throughout the needed, bringing key stakeholders on programme I facilitated almost all the board and linking programme monitoring capacity building workshops and forums to eventual policy-influencing. organised by the youth group. In all the activities undertaken by the group, we Conclusion consulted extensively and refined our Perhaps our most important conclusion approaches before implementation with relates to which actors were involved and technical assistance from the Plan Kenya how. We understood from the start that Nairobi Urban Development Programme. governance and development processes The youths proved to be very organised and cannot be delinked from the political dedicated to the governance programme, processes that exist at the grassroots level. which encouraged government officials to Nor can they survive without the good will see them as partners in their daily activi- of both the political players and opinion ties. leaders who hold sway in decision-making. Communication and information shar- Plan Kenya took a risk in giving the youth ing was also key in strengthening the such a lead role, which proved well justi- partnership and enhancing the quality of fied. The partnership between us – Edwine decisions taken to promote governance at and Cynthia – and other Jipange members the grassroots. was crucial. Edwine opened the door to We found that with success, communi- local government and held it open, and ties’ expectations are raised and the Cynthia and her peers came in and made demand for scaling up increases. There- things start happening in a way that is fore, ‘supply’ has to be ready to meet more accountable to youth and other citi- ‘demand’ and an inclusive approach is zens.
162 64 Edwine Ochieng and Cynthia Ochola Anyango CONTACT DETAILS Edwine Ochieng Gender and Social Development Officer Embakasi District Office Government of Kenya PO Box 20430-00100 Nairobi Kenya Tel: + 254 0720455120 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Cynthia Anyango Ochola Secretary Jipange Youth Organisation Embakasi District PO Box 174-0518 Kayole Nairobi County Kenya Tel: +254 0726243700 Email: email@example.com REFERENCES FAO (2003) A handbook for trainers on participatory local development: The Panchayati Raj model in India. FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific Bangkok, August 2003. RAP publication 2003/07. Online: www.fao.org/docrep/006/ad346e/ad346e00.htm KNBS (2009) Kenya population and housing census. Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.