Uraia is the premier National Civic Education Organisation in Kenya. It has been in existence since 2000 and has been working to contribute towards the progress of Kenya through the development of Kenya’s most important resource – Kenyans. Uraia began its journey as the National Civic Education Programme (NCEP) when a formal partnership was struck between 70 Kenyan indigenous civil society organisations (CSOs) – who became implementing partners (IPs) – and a group of development partners who signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that outlined the basis for cooperation between the development partners as well as the joint funding mechanisms of the Programme.
NCEP was implemented between August 2000 and September 2002. It was aimed at consolidating a mature political culture in which citizens would be more aware of their rights and responsibilities, and would participate effectively in broadening democracy in the country. The Programme, while focusing on governance and electoral processes, hoped to equip citizens with the relevant knowledge to contribute to, and participate actively and meaningfully in the country’s socio-economic, political and development processes. By the time the country held elections in December 2002, the Programme had successfully carried out approximately 60,000 civic and voter education activities in all of Kenya’s eight provinces, reaching nearly a fifth of the country’s total population.
After the peaceful elections in 2002, it became clear to NCEP that while civic education had played a critical part in enabling Kenyan citizens to understand the relationship between them and the state, the new political environment and the push towards constitutional reform would require a drastic restructuring and reviewing of the Programme. This resulted in significant changes in the way the Programme was managed and run, particularly in relation to its management and branding. A decision was made to form a Programme Steering Committee that would give both the consortia (which by then included National Muslim Civic Education Consortium (NAMCEC), Constitution and Reform Education Consortium (CRECO), Consortium for the Empowerment and Development of Marginalised Communities (CEDMAC) and Ecumenical Civic Education Consortium (ECEP) and the Donor Committee a say in the way the Programme was managed, monitored and implemented. It was also decided that the Programme should be locally-owned and have a name that resonated with ordinary citizens. More importantly, it was felt that the Programme needed to develop Kenyans’ sense of belonging to the country by promoting the idea of citizenship and all that it entails, including patriotism, loyalty, and respect for the law. NCEP’s second phase was thus re-branded Uraia, the Kiswahili word for citizenship.
In 2005, NCEP’s second phase (Uraia) shifted its focus to five key areas that were considered critical under the new political dispensation: nation-building; democratisation; good governance; constitutionalism; and human rights, with the three cross-cutting issues of environment, gender and HIV/AIDS. Uraia developed several key strengths through which the Programme has been able to accomplish some of its initiatives, despite the many external challenges. For example, the Programme included home-grown/indigenous ideas in its information, education and communication materials.
However, the 2007 general election and its violent aftermath forced Uraia to re-examine its mandate and re-formulate its objectives in relation to the second stage of the Programme’s activities. This second stage was also a response to the new challenges facing the country after the elections, including large numbers of internally displaced people scattered in camps in many parts of the country.
Development partners and other stakeholders pulled resources together to respond to the post-election crisis through Uraia under the National Response Initiative (NRI), a rapid response mechanism that focused on promoting peace and resolving conflict among various affected communities in the country.
In 2010, Uraia began initiating mechanisms through which the Programme could become more self-sustaining and less dependent on the basket fund provided by donors. The Uraia Trust, established in 2011, will allow for longer-term planning and bring synergy to the Programme and enable it to reach a larger number of citizens and stakeholders wishing to be part of the country’s reform agenda.
Find the Uraia 2011 – 2015 Strategic Plan here.