Establishment of the Kenya National Civil Society Forum

A two-day meeting that brought together Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Kenya with the aim of setting up a National CSO Forum for Kenya was held on 13th and 14th August, 2015 in Naivasha. The meeting was convened by the National Coordination mechanism of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), in collaboration with the Non-Governmental Organization Coordination Board (NGO Coordination Board) and supported by Nairobi Peace Initiative Africa (NPI-Africa) through its Great Lakes Project (GLP).

Among those in attendance were Ambassador Zachary Muburi, ICGLR National Coordinator for Kenya, Mr. Fazul Mohamed, Executive Director of the NGO Coordination Board, Mr. Joseph Butiku, Chair of the Regional Civil Society Forum and Mr. Walter Odhiambo, Executive Director, NPI-Africa.

Background

This meeting was part and a culmination of a series of activities aimed at implementing the findings, recommendations and protocols from observation of the Dar-es-Salaam Declaration on Peace, Security, Democracy and Development in the Great Lakes Region, signed by the Heads of State and Government of Member States of ICGLR on 20th November 2004. The meetings were guided by the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region signed by the Heads of State and Government of Member States of the ICGLR on 15th December 2006 in Nairobi, Kenya, which entered into force on 21 June 2008. As a result of this, the ICGLR Regional Civil Society Forum was established through an Accord entered to on 7th July 2011. The provisions of the Accord guide the operations of the Regional Civil Society Forum (RCSF) which is commonly known as the "Forum". 

Arising from the named actions and recommendations, thematic approach of the learning and dialogue platform that focused on key contextual areas was developed. These were grouped under five programme areas that also hinge on the ICGLR strategic agenda. These programmes are:-

a) Peace and Security

b) Democracy and Good Governance

c) Economic Development and Regional Integration

d) Humanitarian and Social Issues

e) Cross-cutting Issues

In order to ensure that the CSOs effectively contribute to the regional stability, peace and development by engaging with the national and grassroots issues, the Accord provided for formation and operational of the National Forum in every member state of ICGLR. This would facilitate the learning and dialogue sessions building the regional framework. To this end, series of national events to build and operationalize national forums have been held and facilitated. It is on this basis that the Naivasha meeting was held to facilitate formation of the National Civil Society Forum in Kenya.

The meeting in Naivasha brought together key civil society stakeholders in Kenya who were committed to work with the ICGLR National Coordination office as well as the regional mechanisms including the Secretariat and the Regional Civil Society Forum in implementing, monitoring and evaluating the various protocols and declarations that are assented to by Kenya in particular, as well as other member states of the ICGLR.

The outcomes of the meeting were Election of (a) 12 officials of the National Forum including the National Chairperson and Secretary; (b) Chairperson and Vice-chairperson of each of the five programmes areas; and (c) Five representatives of the National Forum to the RCSF.