the marketing pool

While googling for the keyword “Eldoret” (a fast inet connection and random keywords make up for perfect time-wasters which of course are always prefered to work which would actually put some food on the table..), I once again realized how many different ngo projects are done in Kenya.

I am SURE many of you can instantly name a few initiatives and NGOs that are dealing with water, energy, health, general environmental issues, IT, social work, etc etc and there sure are many we have never even heard of.
On the other hand, there are many qualified, jobless young Kenyans dying to get a decent job if only they knew where to apply.

To make it short: is there any website or office in Kenya that tries to a) lobby the NGO’s work and b) tries to get all NGOs to round table talks (as a problem seems to be that many NGOs differ in political orientations, funding and other strange variables).

As a start, I am thinking of using a free Wiki software to at least document all NGOs willing to publish their work on a single website. The idea of such an informative website is to get an overview of what has been implemented so far, what kind of policy the GoK has on certain matters, the people’s view and the typical approach strategy NGOs use to get their messages conveyed.
A website that sums up ALL different opinions and gives the public an overview (at least) of how they can be involved. You know, there are active forums like Mashada & Co, or even the vivid kenyan blogosphere, where ppl communicate on a daily basis. Why shouldn’t this be possible on a matter of national interest?

Natujenge taifa letu
Ee ndio wajibu wetu
Kenya istahili heshima
Tuungane mikono pamoja kazini
Kila siku tuwe nashukrani.

Only words?

I found this website that tries to do cover the above mentioned idea – however, did YOU know it?

10 comments » Write a comment

  1. Jke: Brilliant write up and idea!
    I agree there is need to have such a space where all these organizations doing great work in Kenya can be articulated in depth on what they do and the contribution they are making in the society.

    I always stumble across these organizations while googlin like you or across some story in the media and sometimes I’m in awe that such exist. It is imperative to have such displayed in a space where those seeking jobs, seeking to volunteer or seeking to offer advise can easily get to them or even seeking to contribute to the cause can do so. For instance a while ago BBC wrote something about the girl child lacking sanitary towels and having to skip school every month during their periods.

    This issue touched me and it took me a whole day to get the woman cited on the BBC as championing this cause and what was even surprising,when and where I did find her, they only had her phone number which went unanswered(I still need to get in touch with her. She does not have a website or an email and such a space that you speak of, can be a good forum for her and her cause to be aired and those interested in exploring way to help can meet,have a dialogue/exchange ideas .

    P.S I always wonder why these organization are very vocal in their communities abroad and not in the local environment where they are really making a difference. Seriously, I always see them on their local newspaper like somewhere in Maine, Vermont or Houston USA doing this and that in Kakamega or Busia and yet nothing in our local dailies.Don’t the Kenyans in Kenya or abroad want to know they exist?. Jke,what do you think?

  2. THX for those good examples. I agree there is a need to get those small players together so that they can share different problems like tax examption issues or other related business with the system.
    If it takes more PR work /marketing to publish their work, then why wait? And it isn’t only about an idealistic approach – I am thinking about a virtual platfrom that becomes interesting for those seeking jobs, hence the (always required) financial incentive for getting ppl involved is given.

  3. I agree the pooling of those players for job seekers and also a networking palatform for those who may want to collaborate with them in part of their mission for the good fo the whole..I toally concur..

  4. I agree with Irena, brilliant you are with your IT shaped heart (that line is still killing me)

    Did not know about that NGO site, and yes please do the Wiki. Count me in if you need input etc, i can contribute whenever possible.
    You rock. Kenya is going online faster faster…this would be quite empowering. btw, i found a report that shows Moi University was doing testing of solar modules to check for their efficiency!
    Here

  5. Very smart thinking indeed. ‘The idea of such an informative website is to get an overview of what has been implemented so far, what kind of policy the GoK has on certain matters, the people’s view and the typical approach strategy NGOs use to get their messages conveyed’ That’s a gread idea because it would also provide for accountability seeing that accountability in Kenya is next to nil.

  6. Oh, thx afroM & Kabinti!
    I have this domain “umoja.DE” which I could use on the wiki for the time being…I am just installing a release of dokuwiki to see how it is going on.

    However, have you seen this: http://www.ngocouncil.org/ ? “Council of NGOs”. Take a closer look at that website and the (missing) contents.

    I don’t want to sound like ranting all the time, but please, that’s just one of those empty websites to me with no REAL content. As long as intentions are there with no real content (and I do not exempt myself from that), it’s just hot air to me. And the benefit I see with a wiki (or anything else like that!) is the user interactivity.

    I recently blogged about building a wiki on ecological sanitation – which I did. Doing something like that is very simple, all u need is some webspace and some time to spend. A copy of dokuwiki installs within 20 minutes and there it is, ready to be filled with content. This btw applies to many other forums on the internet. No need to re-invent the wheel – let us just use the given technology and fill empty pages. And allow ppl to contribute right from their desktop, right from where they are – and not by providing yet another paper form or any other form of bureaucraZy. I would like to create a platform where everyone can contribute – just like this blog thing. Maybe this form of interactivity will also help ppl feeling more involved and realize that it isn’t a financial matter, but instead a matter of self-involvment and doing something for the community…

    Oh, btw: http://www.xs4all.nl/~ekole/public/NGONET-inh.html

  7. Definitely an interactive forum Kiku would be very beneficial to all parties I think, something like BC open .

  8. In general: great idea, jke.

    HOWEVER here are my thoughts: Are we talking about Kenya? Are we talking about a country where there are 1.5 Mio Internet users to date? And 90% of those in urban areas? Fact.

    1)At this point internet access and the actual time needed to contribute online postings IS A FIANCIAL MATTER. Having had NGO experience myself for a number of years now, I know that accounting for “communication services” such as telephone, internet and postage is like one of the toughest jobs in running an NGO. Donors and donor organisation so far DO NOT see the cost AND struggles of these services in developing countries and thus accounting for them seems like a thorn in their eye. Sure, every donor feels the need of providing funds for a telephone connection but is that monthly bill of 5000KSh for an ADSL flatrate really needed? We are talking about Kenya: in the donor’s eyes a hungry child could eat for 4 months for the same amount of money.
    So my question is: which NGO can afford the necessary computer equipment, the necessary access AND the qualified professional employee who has to be paid a monthly salary in order to produce his/her internet skills? Is it the little NGO out there in Homa Bay or is it UNICEF, CARE, OXFAM and GTZ etc. located in Nairobi? Those guys with money, who have wonderful websites already? And honestly, do you think THEY are interested in interactive online communication?
    SO, who AGAIN would be loosing out in an interactive internet forum as suggested??? Isn’t that a new source of creating a bigger heap of injustice once again?

    MY SUGESSTION: You would have to redefine “NGO” and check out your aimed NGO’s resources for such a project.

    2) Talking about “our” imaginery Homa Bay NGO. Do they even have ACCESS as of yet? Out of experience, I know that there are NGOs located from as little as 35km away from the city centre of Nairobi who have NOT BEEN able to aquire interntet access. No plans for landlines, no capacity for wireless data transmission in the same area. How many good NGOs around the country are in the same situation? AGAIN, who would be loosing out in an interactive forum as proposed??

    MY SUGGESTION: You would have to rethink your idea of catching the big fish. I can well imagine listing NGO’s in a register would be an easy thing to do. But getting the expected information and interactivity from OTHER NGO’s than those who are currently already spending much of their resources in publications anyway, may depend on technical issues at this point.

    Don’t get me wrong: I like the idea. But let’s drink a cup of chai first and wait until time is ready for it.

  9. Mbuzimoja, thx. Internet access and spending time online is a financial matter to organisations & ppl in Germany as well. Fact.

    I can well imagine listing NGO’s in a register would be an easy thing to do. But getting the expected information and interactivity from OTHER NGO’s..
    Well, that’s my point. Getting a listing first, either offline or online. See my point? I am talking about a platform, an event, not necessarily an online website but information that is published by this sort of council like the above mentioned NGO council. Not just an excel sheet that one might maybe obtain from the Ministry of Home Affairs or maybe even the NGO council if they get their website running one day, but something organized – a real overview for the public. And these things do NOT have to be managed by the NGOs themselves or a Ministry, but instead by interested public and other volunteers.

    My vision is that internet access will become a normal commodity in Kenya despite of other problems. The biggest problem I see isn’t the NGOs not being able to contribute, but instead how to motivate ppl to do something free of charge, something idealistic / altruistic in a country where every little step is currently being paid for.

  10. @Mbuzi,great write up!

    I understand your concern on lack of funding for an online interactive forum since as you cited in your response, some of these organizations are so small to afford a fully staffed IT department if you may. However,at the same token ,for an organization to attract more funding and volunteerism ,it is important to be known where they are . For instance, former President Clinton had a forum the other day on CNN and one of the major obstacles he spoke of was lack of proper channel for distribution of HIV medication in the rural areas. Now, I know there must some NGO in a kijiji somewhere who would be used by such a MAJOR contributor for this cause but if the CGI (Clinton Global Initiative ) is not aware such an organization exist, then at the end of the day , the same peoople we are trying to help loses.

    So what I think Jke is talking about is bridging such a gap, every idea starts small and this is doable and at the end of the day, some money may be channelled to IT which as you say may help a dying hungry child in Kibera but think how many more children would be saved if an Irena had millions she wanted to give, or spare time to give a warm bath to such a child yet she has no idea that there is an establishment doing the same she can join and help out. I think it is important to look at the BIGGER picture and the advantages of such a forum.