Having been founded in the late nineties, ACT! (then known as Pact Kenya) played a leading role in engaging civil society in the Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement process, which ultimately lead to the birth of the world’s youngest country, South Sudan, back in 2010.
Today, ACT’s vision is for a Kenya with “empowered citizens and communities living a productive life in dignity”, whilst its mission is “to support, partner with and to develop local organizations to be effective agents of lasting positive change.” ACT’s work is founded upon well-grounded context and conflict analysis; an approach which:
- Engages all relevant stakeholders – government and non government;
- Employs an empowering methodology, building capacities from baseline analysis;
- Utilizes local resources; and is
- Committed to conflict sensitivity;
ACT! works for positive change in four thematic areas, a) peacebuilding and conflict transformation; b) democracy and governance; c) women’s empowerment; and d) environment and natural resource management. ACT! has provided technical assistance and guidance to over 300 non-state actor organizations, helping them to adapt to fast changing environments. Through tailor made, thematic trainings and mentoring programmes, ACT! has helped partner organizations have a greater impact on the process of societal transformation. ACT! consultants have helped organizations adapt to change more effectively through organizational capacity assessment, governance and leadership, and core competencies, services and programs.
Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation
Act! focuses on strengthening the both civil society organizations and communities to prevent, manage and transform conflicts, with a particular focus on countering violent extremism, addressing political conflicts (especially related to devolved governance) and managing resource based conflicts (which includes extractives and cross-border conflicts).
The Strengthening Community Resilience against Extremism (SCORE) project works with 15 local CSOs in six countries on the Kenyan coastal region to “strengthen community resilience against conflict and violent extremism through approaches such as interfaith dialogues and counter messaging, empowering women and girls to address violent extremism and conflict, advocating for the strengthening and harmonization of policies on CVE and land to mitigate land conflicts and youth empowerment by expanding economic opportunities and encouraging civic participation to reduce the allure of financial gain from VE and violence.”
ACT! also manages DANIDA’s Peace, Stability and Security (PSS) program in Kenya from 2016-2020, which aims to increase the capacity of local CSOs to address emerging conflicts and forestall violence; increase the leadership role of women in peace and security activities; enhance collaboration between CSOs and government agencies to address conflicts and extremism; increase the use of local information by relevant government authorities to improve national security policies; and strengthen evidence-based research which informs policy frameworks and decision-making structures.
Environment and natural resource management
ACT! has been working with communities across Kenya to improve their ability to sustainably utilize the natural resources which are key to peoples’ day-to-day existence and the local economy. Mitigating the impacts of environmental challenges is imperative for diffusing the very conflicts that they can drive.
The Changieni Rasili Mali (CRM) Facility aims to improve citizen participation, particularly of poor people, in the governance of natural resources (land, water and forestry) by supporting non-state actors (NSAs). Since the programmes inception, the Facility has awarded some 115 grants for a variety of initiatives designed to promote smart agriculture and clean energy; raise awareness about climate change mitigation and adaptation; build organization capacity; strengthen policy analysis and advocacy; promote land rights; resolve land conflicts and diversify livelihoods.
Democracy and Human Rights
ACT! works to empower civil society organizations and communities to actively participate in governance and public decision-making processes. In order to achieve this, the Program equips communities with the requisite skills, knowledge and resources to enable to demand greater transparency and accountability. A key part of this program is better understanding of the local decision-making context through a power analysis, which helps identify systematic barriers to participation by marginalized and excluded groups. Other components include research and analysis; advocacy and lobbying; and network and alliance building. Key projects included the Kenya Civil Society Strengthening Program (KCSSP), the Partnership for Transparency Fund and Accountable Governance in the Context of Devolved Government.
Strategy for 2016-2019
In its strategy for 2016-2019, entitled ‘Collaborating for Sustainable Impact’, ACT! has laid out a number of shifts in direction, deemed necessary to consolidate its status as one of Kenya’s leading peacebuilding organizations. The first advocates a more partner-centered approach, which have been essential to Act!’s success to date. The second involved re-orienting Act’s management through restructuring to ensure clearer leadership, strengthening operational oversight and focusing on three specific themes. Finally, recognizing its role an an effective intermediary organisation, ACT! will constructively engage the Kenyan government and private sector in order to improve the enabling environment and leverage social entrepreneurship.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of TransConflict.