Spotlight on Social Watch Kenya

June's “Spotlight on” is dedicated to Social Watch Kenya, which in August will be holding the next Social Watch regional capacity building workshop.

The Republic of Kenya is an Eastern Africa country, which lies along the Indian Ocean. The national coalition is very active, formed by more than twenty NGOs, networks, foundations, religious organizations and community based associations. The Kenyan focal point is Social Development Network (SODNET), an indigenous organization, established by Non-governmental Organization (NGOs) workers as a facility for reflection and action by local groups on causes and consequences of poverty and disempowerment of communities.

The other organizations that are members of Social Watch Kenya also work on human rights and economic issues from different angles. For example, the Kenyan Human Rights Commission, a national NGO working on the defense of human rights and advocating for political reforms; the Kenya Organization of Environmental Education, whose mission is “to promote and re-orient environmental education towards sustainable development”; and the Kenya Debt Relief Network (KENDREN), “concerned with the enormous debt burden in Kenya that continues to cripple development and efforts to improve the living standards of the country’s citizens”.

Social Watch Kenya at work

SODNET was founded in 1994 as Kinga and legally incorporated as SODNET in June 1996. It aims at facilitating effective strategic alliances among interested people’s and social movements to influence policy on issues of social development, in particular on resource management, globalization and information. 

The Social Development Network exists to work, in partnership with organized communities towards the creation of a world founded on social justice, democracy and respect for human dignity and rights. SODNET’s motto, in synergy there is strength for the disempowered, emphasizes on collective action, responsibility and accountability as a necessary pre-requisite for sustainable social development.

SODNET’s mandate is anchored on the need to monitor and enforce government’s commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Copenhagen Declaration on the World Summit on Social Development and the United Nations Convention on the Right to Development.

SODNET has been the host of the national Social Watch Coalition for Kenya since 1996. The national Social Watch coalition has curved out a niche in the ability to amplify peoples’ concerns on the impact of social development policies from the local level to the national and International policy spaces. This is primarily done through the Annual Social Watch Report that addresses different cutting-edge themes for evidence based advocacy, especially at the United Nations.

The Kenya Social Watch Coalition has been able to root its monitoring network in 52 districts, comprising of individuals, organizations and activists that subscribes to the values of accountability and integrity. Over the years, members of the coalition have been able to hold leaders and government accountable on the issues of injustices at the local level, especially on the issues of equitable resource allocation, dispossession (land), the budget and improvement of service delivery. The coalition members ascribe to a charter of principles that ensures quality and integrity of information that is amplified to concerned authorities, like-minded civil society organizations and the Media.

The coalition members are self-funded and act on their own. The role of SODNET has been primarily geared towards technical support, training and referral of cases that require specialized agencies intervention, such as legal redress.

SODNET through Social Watch has been able to create a community of activists who have been able to
make positive change, on their own. The groups are skilled in evidence-based media advocacy, para-legal affairs and reporting.

As the Kenyan coalition stated on the 2009 Social Watch Report, “the economic principles informing free-market economies began to crumble, the Kenyan political elite, like the legendary desert ostrich, buried its head in the sand; hoping that the crisis would pass. Against this silence, civil society organizations warn that Kenya’s economic boat is leaking and rescue measures are urgent”.


Human Rights International Treaties
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C 87 C 98 C 105 C 100 C 111C 138 C 182
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