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Supporting Strong Leaders For Strong Communities in Kenya
CHOICE Humanitarian’s leadership project in Kenya is equipping local leaders and members with knowledge, skills, and tools to leverage their locally available resources for strategic activities in rural development. These leaders are pivotal change agents who serve as positive role models in their communities.
Working with Community Based Organizations to Train Local Leaders
Community Based Organizations, or CBOs, help rural communities in Kenya achieve their social and economic goals. CBOs are non-governmental, non-profit, non-political, and community-run organizations that often address community challenges with rural development. CBOs are registered by the Kenyan government through the Ministry of Gender and Social Development, and they are guided by a constitution and managed by an elected committee. Membership and leadership for CBOs are drawn from the local communities and represent a cross-section of the societies they serve.
Inexperience in leadership organization and governance can limit communities from benefiting fully from the opportunities offered by CBOs. To more fully realize that benefit, CHOICE Humanitarian has focused a component of the Samburu Integrated Development Program (SIDEP), a multi-year initiative in Kenyan communities, to build leadership capacity in local CBO members.
Leaders as Positive Role Models
This leadership project is equipping CBO leaders and members with knowledge, skills, and tools to leverage their locally available resources for strategic activities in rural development. The CHOICE team in Kenya is supporting CBO leadership with education and training on good governance, leadership, core values, self- reliance, and resource mobilization. The goal is for these trained CBO leaders—who are all volunteers—to then be able to better articulate their development priorities, support development projects, and leverage resources.
CBO leaders are pivotal change agents who serve as positive role models in their communities. Their abilities to organize and implement a holistic approach to community-led development can have significant impact on the quality of life for families and individuals.
The Early Outcomes
Following 7 consultations and meetings with McKinnon CBO and community leaders, these efforts have resulted in many projects in education (school infrastructure and scholarships), environmental preservation, water access, and gender empowerment being undertaken in 2021, which has benefited over 10,045 lives. CHOICE's work with 6 other CBOs has benefited 152,731 lives in 2021.
John's Leadership Role As a Problem-Solver
John Kyang'ang'u is the Chairman of the McKinnon Road Community Based Organization (CBO). This CBO, with a leadership of 55 community members, serves a geographic area of 19 villages and over 25,000 people. After receiving leadership training from CHOICE Humanitarian in Kenya, the CBO was established in 2013 with John as the chairman. Under his chairmanship, the CBO has done incredible work, leaving a mark in almost all aspects of life.
For example, in education the CBO has repaired schools and provided desks. To cope with the pandemic, they provided sanitizers, thermal temperature guns, and face masks to schools to support healthcare needs. Regarding water access, they have installed a 6 km waterline and planted many trees. John also understands the importance of community partners, and so he established a partnership with Wildlife Works to enable better development. Wildlife Works is an ecosystem preservation organization that assists forest communities to transition from extraction-based to conservation-based livelihoods through sales of nature-based credits.
John shared, “It’s upon us to help ourselves. We started the CBO to solve our problems, and I am glad to say that it turned out well. I also know more change is coming.”
John’s dedication to his community is inspiring, especially considering his personal physical challenges. John contracted polio when he was young. Despite the difficulties of living with polio, John knew he always wanted to play a role in making his community better. John explained, “CHOICE has taught us to catch fish ourselves. This has made us self-reliant, and that's exactly what everyone needs for survival—knowledge. And that's the best way to help us continue with our development work.”