The Southern Africa Trust together with the Kenya Community Development Fund (KCDF) hosted the first national convening Kenya on creating linkages between media, research and advocacy. The aim of the meeting was to bring together participants from various sectors: research, media, and civil society advocacy to discuss the modalities of implementing the project in Kenya. In her welcoming remarks Janet Mawiyoo, Chief Executive Officer of KCDF, highlighted a tendency of working in silos and that this initiative will create an opportunity to develop synergies in the work of researchers, advocacy and media practitioners in improving the livelihoods of those affected by poverty.
Neville Gabriel, Executive Director of the Southern Africa Trust, introduced the expectations of the project. He emphasized that to achieve effectiveness of the project, there should be a focus on participation of those who are present at this meeting because they have given this initiative priority and not necessarily worry about the size of the gathering of the national convening. Further, though Africa has elements of reinvention, which ultimately affects the nature of dynamics and responses of civil society (non-state actors), the continent has not yet fully adapted to the changing context.
Neville also spoke about the donor approaches in working with civil society in particular that such approaches often focus on the issues of civil society demand for accountability by government. This has tended to ignore the importance of social cohesion amongst the sectors for purposes of making accountability work more effective. Such approaches do not recognize the value of linking different civil society organizations in the form of partnerships, alliances, network working towards a shared objective to foster change. Thus, the focus of many donors is on building the capacity of one organization to achieve that social change by doing everything and everywhere in the advocacy value chain. This initiative will look at how to build an ecosystem of civil society advocacy work that will bring lasting, meaningful and systemic change by building value adding relationships between different civil society groups with similar objectives.