Locus Nairobi Workshop – Integration and Local Ownership: Pathways to Sustainable Development

By Ellie Price, Locus Coordinator

Locus’s Nairobi Workshop, “Integration and Local Ownership: Pathways to Sustainable Development,” took place on April 27, 2018. Organized and hosted by Africa Capacity Alliance in partnership with AKDN East Africa and the Aga Khan University Graduate School of Media and Communications, participants enjoyed several presentations, work group sessions, and large group discussions that led us to establish a Task Force of 8 Nairobi-based organizations dedicated to advancing integration and local ownership in partnership with The Movement for Community-Led Development.

The opening remarks were delivered by Stephen Otieno, Executive Director of the Africa Capacity Alliance. He emphasized that integrated development and its evidence base should begin with locally contextual conversations between academia and civil society.

Each person then shared their expectations for the day. Many wanted to exchange best practices on integrated and/or locally owned development practices, and many wanted to understand the difference between Locus and the Movement for Community Led Development. It was even suggested by one person that the outcome be to start a Locus East Africa chapter. By the end of the day, we found an even better idea.

Dorothy Muroki, Chief of Party for the Cross-Border Health Integrated Partnership Project at FHI 360 shared the history of integrated approaches in development, from integrated rural appraisal until today, where we find a focus on evidence for integrated approaches. She finished with suggestions for seven small, do-able actions practitioners can take to maximize programmatic impact by strategically incorporating multiple disciplines/sectors into proposal design, budgets, management plans, and communications.

Dorothy Muroki, FHI 360

Jacqueline Ndirangu, Capacity Development Manager at Pact, followed with many case studies from Pact’s PEACE program, emphasizing that local ownership means “people have a voice and are able to make informed choices.”

Lilian Esemere, Technical Officer, spoke of cross-training technical specialists from different sectors, as done in FHI 360’s Afya Uzazi program.

Lilian Esemere, FHI 360

Alice Oyaro, Head of Civil Society for AKDN East Africa, and our event moderator, reminded us that local ownership is fundamentally about power shifting. Trust, mutual respect, and open communication are bedrock. Integrated programs can be delivered, but no one can deliver power and accountability. “We must be the change we wish to see” and promote the leadership of people within the institutions they represent.

Alice Oyaro, Aga Khan East Africa

Melvin Chibole, Communications Manager, told us the awe-inspiring of the Kenya Community Development Foundation’s incubation and independence, furthering and echoing Alice’s convictions. “For local ownership to begin, risks have to be taken.” Commitment to independent mobilization of local resources has been critical for KCDF to grow its development influence, raise match funds for multiple endowments, and start an investment holding company. These things take time. In development, “we are so keen on impact, but sometimes outcomes are good enough.” Moreover, “passion to drive the [local development] agenda has to be with the CSO, not the funder.”

Small group work, facilitated Q&A, and group discussions ensued. As the day unfolded, it became very clear that all stakeholders in the room agreed upon one thing: The Movement for Community-Led Development is modeling how each of us aspire to support civil society-governance strengthening in the communities we represent.

As a result, Carol Maringa, our chief workshop coordinator, facilitated a “Way Forward” session at the end of the day, during which members decided to continue meeting together as a newly formed learning community to support locally-led, integrated community development in Kenya. Paul Maundu of Heifer International Kenya will be the National Coordinator for the new Kenyan chapter of the global Movement for Community-Led Development, which will launch within the next month.

Like many of us in the U.S. have appreciated about Locus, there is value in meeting to exchange knowledge on integration. But in Kenya, the group identified an even more powerful, tangible way to organize for action. This learning community will take the form of a Task Force of organizations who will support the launch of the Movement for Community Led Development in Kenya, mobilizing citizens in their communities and organizations for integrated, locally-led SDG attainment. The Task Force of 8 includes Aga Khan Development Network, Africa Capacity Alliance, FHI 360, Heifer, Pact, Nairobi University, Youth Anti-FGM Network, and VICOCAP (Visionary Community Care Program). Most attendees were Nairobi-based, though we did have colleagues from Glimmer International travel from Addis and Austin and two from DC.

The workshop was organized brilliantly by Carol Maringa, Alice Oyaro, George Obanyi, Jacquie Ndirangu, Caroline Bii, Jefferson Ochilo, Stephen Otieno, and many others.

Africa Capacity Alliance compiled the results of evaluation surveys, and produced a full-length summary report  of the day. Of the 40 participants, 70% participated in the session evaluation survey. 79% of the respondents reported that the session was Very Relevant to the objectives of the workshop and to their organizational mandate. The summary conclusions were:

o   The workshop sessions provided useful information that will go a long way in impacting the programming of the organizations represented in the workshop.

o   The workshop was well planned, wonderfully facilitated, but with limited time. It could have gone for one more day.

o   The participants were well informed, and participated actively in the sessions making the workshop very lively.

Since the workshop, Paul has led a meeting with some members of the Task Force and other local organizations in anticipation of the Movement for Community Led Development Kenya Chapter launch. We look forward to the launch later in 2018!