CSOs Empowered To Mobilize Resources, Address Community Challenges

The Yetu Initiative, a collaboration of the Aga Khan Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is empowering civil society organizations (CSOs) in Kenya to not only mobilize resources locally but also collaboratively address community challenges with their county level stakeholders.

Working with CSOs in addressing community challenges at the grass-roots level, Yetu Initiative has since supported 323 CSOs to raise over Sh270 million, for locally led development projects across 29 counties in Kenya.

Speaking during the 2023 Yetu Initiative lessons learned and capstone Festival in Nairobi, Former Makueni Governor Prof. Kivutha Kibwana, who was chief guest at the event, said community philanthropy was one of the most important socio-economic models in the country giving opportunities for correcting histories of inequity to dignity.

‘It is twice as hard to achieve sustainability if there is no development led from the grassroots. We must discard this notion that it is only the government that can come up with solutions to local problems. We know and have seen through Yetu Initiative and the CSO community that the people themselves know and understand the problems plaguing them and can prescribe solutions that can transform our local communities, where they are,’ he said.

The Project Director Irene Gathinji said Yetu Initiative has invested approximately USD 11 million in the past nine years, half of which was raised by local Kenyan CSOs and local development organizations (LDOs), to implement community initiatives and ultimately investing back in their communities.

‘A multi-stakeholder approach involving citizens, government, and private sector participation is crucial in building sustainable locally led development models. In fostering trust as a crucial component of partnership between CSOs and communities, Yetu Initiative has enabled civil society to sit at the same table as communities and discuss challenges and concerns with tangible solutions,’ she said.

With constant communication, feedback, and engagement, diverse groups including disadvantaged and marginalized communities can now be involved in programme design and implementation, to ensure sustainability and accountability of those initiatives.

Yetu Initiative is currently working with over 250 CSOs to implement projects across the education, food security, climate resilience, energy, and water sectors. Others include women and youth empowerment, health, child protection and disability sectors.

Regional Technical Advisor, Civil Society Program at the Aga Khan Foundation Cynthia Odhiambo stated that the Yetu initiative supports CSOs and communities in understanding and identifying their challenges and intervention priorities while contributing their own solutions through boot-camps.

‘We have observed that local communities can be self-reliant in driving and achieving locally led development. Accountability is therefore important for community philanthropy to succeed. Yetu Initiative’s success lies in its ability to put communities at the centre of development by bringing in their contribution, both in cash and in-kind and getting them constantly involved, through civil society engagements,’ she explained.

Yetu Initiative has been working with CSOs to strengthen the ecosystem of community philanthropy through the development of cutting-edge philanthropy platforms, building on the body of evidence through research, capacity building and brokering CSO relations with the private sector and government. Since inception, over 10,000 CSOs have been registered as members of local development organizations.

Source: Kenya News Agency

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