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Last updated 30 April 2013
Update: The Public Benefit Organisations Bill, 2012, which was drafted by a Committee of NGOs, was passed on December 20, 2012. The implementing regulations, which are currently being drafted, will help determine whether enabling provisions in the law are carried out in practice.
Traditionally, Kenyans lived in communities characterized by strong patterns of social ties and relations. People came together to promote mutual interests, pool resources, express ideas and participate in the governance of their communities as the communal structures afforded them the vehicles to do so. These structures included ethnic and kinship groups, such as families, clans and lineages, as well as councils of elders and age groups.
Associational life is still deeply rooted in Kenya. It forms the basis on which Harambee (self-help) initiatives thrive. The term civil society, however, is relatively recent and is often associated with quests for social transformation and the realization of social justice. From the early 1920s until 1963, civil society organizations  (CSOs) played a prominent role in the struggle for independence. From the time of independence until the late 1970s, many CSOs worked closely with the government to complement its service delivery efforts. However, the 1980s and 1990s were characterized by new dynamics: as western donors made economic support to the Government conditional on good governance and democratization, CSOs began to demand a multi-party system. CSOs also became more vocal on national political issues such as constitutional reform and good governance. Indeed, CSOs contributed immensely towards the transition (in 2002) from authoritarian to democratic rule through their efforts to advance political rights and freedoms as well to broaden the democratic process.
The new political dispensation in 2003 brought about an observed improvement in government/CSO relations as meaningful dialogue and increased engagement between the two sectors began to take place. The former and current Governments have encouraged CSOs and other stakeholders to partner with them, especially in addressing the complex issues facing the country. However, CSOs are aware that they need to address issues of competence, sustainability, and credibility within their own sector more earnestly if they are to play their role and engage with other partners effectively. There are some efforts being made in this regard.
Many of Kenya’s laws are statutory in nature and generally codify England’s common law rules. In addition, Kenyan legislation regulates organizations substantially through enforcement of the organization's founding documents. Generally, the legal environment in which CSOs operate is supportive of civil society. However, the legal framework is characterized by multiple laws, which are implemented by different government ministries, agencies and departments. The diverse and sometimes overlapping laws present difficulties for the government in developing harmonized, systematic and coordinated plans and approaches to civil society. To compound the problem, the CSO regulatory agencies are under-resourced and find it difficult to manage their basic functions effectively. For example, although the NGO Coordination Board (the government body that regulates NGOs) can issue directives on the need for NGOs to file their annual returns, it lacks the capacity to carry out inspections and ensure that NGOs adhere to these directives.
 The term Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) is used generally in Kenya to refer to the wide array of organizations that operate in the realm between the individual and the state and are formed to promote the interests of their members or the public good. The term “NGO” is used specifically to refer to entities that are registered by the NGO Coordination Bureau. Though NGOs are just a small part of the larger CSO sector, they are the most visible. Under the NGO Coordination Act of 1990, NGOs can be established for the benefit of the public at large and for the promotion of social welfare, development, charity or research in the areas inclusive of, but not restricted to, health, relief, agriculture, education, industry, and the supply of amenities and services.
|Organizational Forms||Non-Governmental Organizations||Societies|
|Registration Body||NGO Coordination Board||Registrar of Societies|
|Barriers to Entry||(1) Vague grounds for denial of registration;
(2) Government discretion in setting terms and conditions on NGO registration;
(3) No fixed time period for registration review;
|(1) Vague grounds for denial of registration;
(2) Mandatory registration (unregistered societies illegal).
|Barriers to Activities||NGOs must reach agreement with the NGO Coordination Board on a variety of issues before commencing activities.||(1) Registrar of Societies has wide discretion relating to the investigation, arrest, and search of any society;
(2) The failure to maintain a register of members or annual accounts may expose a society to heavy penalities, including imprisonment;
(3) Where it is alleged that a society is unlawful, the burden of proof is on the society.
|Barriers to Speech and/or Advocacy||No legal barriers||No legal barriers|
|Barriers to International Contact||No NGO can become a branch or affiliate of foreign organizations of policial nature, except with prior consent of the NGO Coordination Board.||No legal barriers|
|Barriers to Resources||No legal barriers||No legal barriers|
|Type of Government||Republic|
|Life Expectancy at Birth||Male: 57.49 years
Female: 58.24 years
|Literacy Rate||Male: 90.6%
|Religious Groups||Protestant: 45%; Roman Catholic: 33%; Muslim: 10%; indigenous beliefs: 10%; other: 2%|
|Ethnic Groups||Kikuyu: 22%; Luhya: 14%; Luo: 13%; Kalenjin: 12%; Kamba: 11%; Kisii: 6%; Meru: 6%; other African: 15%; non-African (Asian, European, and Arab): 1%|
|GDP per capita||$1,600 (2008 est.)|
Source: The World Factbook. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 2009.
|Ranking Body||Rank||Ranking Scale
(best – worst possible)
|UN Human Development Index||147 (2011)||1 – 182|
|World Bank Rule of Law Index||16.6 (2010)||100 – 0|
|World Bank Voice & Accountability Index||39.8 (2010)||100 – 0|
|Transparency International||154 (2011)||1 – 180|
|Freedom House: Freedom in the World||Status: Partly Free
Political Rights: 4
|Free/Partly Free/Not Free
1 – 7
1 – 7
|Foreign Policy: Failed States Index
||16 (2012)||177 – 1|
International and Regional Human Rights Agreements
|Key International Agreements||Ratification*||Year|
|International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)||Yes||1972|
|Optional Protocol to ICCPR (ICCPR-OP1)||No||--|
|International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)||Yes||1972|
|Optional Protocol to ICESCR (OP-ICESCR)||No||--|
|International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD)||Yes||2001|
|Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)||Yes||1984|
|Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women||No||--|
|Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)||Yes||1990|
|International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (ICRMW)||No||--|
|Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)||Yes||2008|
|African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights||Yes||1992|
|African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child||Yes||2000|
|Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community||Yes||2001|
|Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa||No||--|
|Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights||Yes||2004|
* Category includes ratification, accession, or succession to the treaty
On 4th August 2010, at a national referendum, Kenyans voted in favor of a new constitution. The constitution review process, which preceded the referendum, has been touted as the most participatory constitution review process worldwide, as it was consultative from the start and largely integrated the views of the public in the final document. The new constitution promises far-reaching and comprehensive reforms in the governance of the country.
Relevant provisions include:
Implementation of rights and fundamental freedoms
21. (1) It is a fundamental duty of the State and every State organ to observe, respect, protect, promote and fulfill the rights and fundamental freedoms in the Bill of Rights.
Freedom Of Expression
33. (1) Every person has the right to freedom of expression, which includes—
- freedom to seek, receive or impart information or ideas;
- freedom of artistic creativity; and
- academic freedom and freedom of scientific research.
(2) The right to freedom of expression does not extend to—
- propaganda for war;
- incitement to violence;
- hate speech; or
- advocacy of hatred that—
- constitutes ethnic incitement, vilification of others or incitement to cause harm; or
- is based on any ground of discrimination specified or contemplated in Article 27 (4).
(3) In the exercise of the right to freedom of expression, every person shall respect the rights and reputation of others.
Access To Information
35. (1) Every citizen has the right of access to—
- information held by the State; and
- information held by another person and required for the exercise or protection of any right or fundamental freedom.
(2) Every person has the right to the correction or deletion of untrue or misleading information that affects the person.
(3) The State shall publish and publicise any important information affecting the nation.
Freedom Of Association
36. (1) Every person has the right to freedom of association, which includes the right to form, join or participate in the activities of an association of any kind.
(2) A person shall not be compelled to join an association of any kind.
(3) Any legislation that requires registration of an association of any kind shall provide that—
- registration may not be withheld or withdrawn unreasonably; and
- there shall be a right to have a fair hearing before a registration is cancelled.
Assembly, demonstration, picketing and petition
37. Every person has the right, peaceably and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket, and to present petitions to public authorities.
Right to Language and culture
44. (1) Every person has the right to use the language, and to participate in the cultural life, of the person’s choice.
In recent months, Kenyan courts have decided several cases interpreting the new constitution. Here are but two examples:
Equality and freedom from discrimination
In another case, a Kenyan, seeking to stop an Armed Forces recruitment process, sought judicial interpretation arguing that the military failed to comply with the Constitution by failing to recruit pregnant women, in violation of non-discrimmination provisions in Article 27 of the Constitution. Article 27(4) provides: The State shall not discriminate directly or indirectly against any person on any ground, including race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, health status, ethnic or social origin, colour, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, dress, language or birth.
The High Court judge, Justice Daniel Musinga, dismissed the case. He ruled that the conditions set out for prospective recruits to meet were not discriminatory. "This is not ordinary civil employment and the military forces must be given the liberty to recruit the best to perform the demanding responsibility." Defence Minister Yusuf Haji and Attorney General Amos Wako, who were respondents, argued that rights to non-discrimination were not absolute and in the case of an expectant mother, the rights of unborn child must be safeguarded since life begins at conception.
Right to Assembly, demonstration, picketing and petition
On August 27, immediately after a ceremony where the New Constitution was promulgated, two men were arrested while demonstrating against the invitation extended by the Kenyan State to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. They claimed that the invitation was in disregard of a warrant for President Bashir’s arrest, which was issued by the International Criminal Court.
The two, Francis Kanyare Kihara and Peter Mbwika Muli, were then charged with taking part in an unlawful assembly contrary to Section 78 (1) as read with Section 79 of the Penal Code. The Chief Magistrate dismissed their application to have the charge nullified and ruled that his court had no legal authority to interpret the Constitution on issues of rights and freedoms.
Though Article 23(1) of the Constitution gives the High Court powers to hear and determine matters pertaining to violation of rights or freedoms in the Bill of Rights, Article 23(2) requires Parliament to enact a law to give Magistrate Courts similar authority. Such laws have not yet been enacted.
In court, the accused argued that the Constitution granted them the right to demonstrate. Article 37 provides that every person has the right, peaceably and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket, and to present petitions to public authorities. Their lawyers argued that by the time the demonstrations were held, the President had already promulgated the new Constitution.
The two accused were released on cash bail and their hearing was set for December.
National Laws and Regulations Affecting Sector
Relevant regional and national-level laws and regulations affecting civil society include:
- The Non-Governmental Organizations Coordination Act, Act No. 19 
- The Non-Governmental Organizations Coordination Regulations 
- The Non-Governmental Organizations Council Code of Conduct 
- The Revised Draft of the Constitution of Kenya 
- The Companies Act, Chapter 486 of the Laws of Kenya 
- The Societies Act, Chapter 108 of the Laws of Kenya 
- The Trustees (Perpetual Succession) Act, Chapter 164 of the Laws of Kenya 
- The Trustee Act, Chapter 167 of the Laws of Kenya 
- The Value Added Tax Act, Chapter 476 of the Laws of Kenya 1990 
- The Customs and Excise Act, Chapter 472 of the Laws of Kenya 1996 
- The Income Tax Act, Chapter 470 of the Laws of Kenya 1974 
- Income Tax (Charitable Donations Regulations) 
- Finance Bill 
- Sessional Paper No. 1 
- The East Africa Community Treaty
- The East Africa Community Customs Management Act 
Pending NGO Legislative / Regulatory Initiatives
The Public Benefit Organizations Bill, 2012, drafted by a Committee of CSOs, passed its first reading in Parliament on June 27. The NGO Board (the government agency that registers CSOs) and Kenyan CSOs then negotiated amendments to the bill that would provide the government with greater oversight in exchange for governmental support for this bill. The bill was reportedly passed on December 20, 2012. A copy of the bill should be available on the Kenya Law Tracker in early 2013.
From 2008 to 2012, civil society organizations (CSOs) in Kenya were involved in ongoing conversations around the most conducive regulatory and administrative framework for their operations. During the course of these conversations, a broadly inclusive, loosely structured CSO Reference Group was created. The initial volunteers to this group took on the task of refining a range of fundamental ideas that should guide any legislation that might be developed for the civic sector. The Reference Group has, since its formation, worked to mobilize CSO participation in the development of a new enabling legal, regulatory and institutional framework for CSOs in Kenya.
On June 19, 2012, senior officials from the NGO Coordination Board (the government agency that registers NGOs) met with members of the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) Reference Group and agreed to work together to establish a conducive legal environment for NGOs in Kenya. This move powerfully leveraged key competencies from both sectors towards the attainment of the common goal. It comes in the wake of a long history, which saw both sectors begin to work jointly on the process of law review, before pursuing different routes that resulted in two draft Bills – the NGO Bill and the Public Benefits Organizations (PBO) Bill.
A key output of the June 19th meeting was the establishment of (1) a Joint Committee of the NGO Coordination Board and the CSO Reference Group, and (2) a Working Group of the Joint Committee. The Joint Committee will lead efforts towards the enactment of the PBO Bill 2012. The Working Group is tasked with proposing amendments to the PBO Bill 2012, following deliberations between the two sides. The Working Group held its first meeting on June 26, 2012. Members of the Working Group have agreed to be guided by certain values, including transparency and honesty, seeking the best interest for the CSO sector, and commitment to the shared outcome.
An initiative to enhance partnerships between the Government and CSOs. An initiative aimed at strengthening the Government-CSO relationship is currently underway and has brought together Government and CSO representatives in a working group. The group has developed principles for collaboration and is in the process of developing clear strategies for engagement between the sectors.
The CSO initiative on standards. A CSO-led initiative is currently underway, which aims to strengthen the competence and sustainability of the CSO sector through developing sector-wide standards, building the capacity of CSOs to comply with the standards and establishing an institution to assess compliance with the standards. This initiative brought together CSO networks and capacity building initiatives that were previously working on the development and application of CSO Standards, and also engaged CSO leaders in participatory workshops held in all eight provinces of the country. The initiative demonstrates that CSOs appreciate the grave need to put the sector in order. Through this sector-wide initiative, CSOs are sending an important message to the Government and all potential partners that they intend to conduct themselves in a professional, competent and transparent manner. It will therefore lay the foundation for improved relationships between CSOs and the Government.
There have been efforts to set up a new organisation for the promotion of CSO standards through certification and capacity building. The organization – VIWANGO - is awaiting registration as a Not-for-Profit Company, with a projected public launch date in August 2010. VIWANGO’s mission is to “improve performance of CSOs through the promotion and application of minimum standards and voluntary, independent certification.”
The Prime Minister’s Round Table Meeting (PMRT) with Civil Society Organizations took place on March 9, 2011. The PMRT provides a framework for structured engagement between civil society and government, on the implementation of the broad issues under the Constitution. The meeting brings together Government line Ministries, Departments and Agencies and Civil Society Organizations that deal with a wide spectrum of issues together, to agree on a joint strategy for implementation of the Constitution. The strategy includes commitments from both sectors, complete with time lines. The PMRT will strengthen efforts aimed at constructive engagement by actors in both sectors.
CSOs in Kenya may assume one of six available organizational forms:
(1) Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are registered by the NGO Coordination Board and governed by the NGO Coordination Act of 1990 (Act No. 19, Laws of Kenya) and its Regulations of 1992. Section 2 of the Act defines NGOs as “private voluntary groupings of individuals or associations not operated for profit or for other commercial purposes but which have organized themselves nationally or internationally for the benefit of the public at large and for the promotion of social welfare, development, charity or research in the areas inclusive of, but not restricted to, health, relief, agriculture, education, industry, and the supply of amenities and services.”
(2) Companies limited by guarantee and not having share capital are registered by the Registrar of Companies under the Companies Act (Chapter 486, Laws of Kenya). They can exist to promote any legal purpose as long as these are contained in the memorandum of incorporation and articles of incorporation. As but one example, many service delivery institutions – such as schools and healthcare organizations – are registered as companies limited by guarantee and having no share capital.
(3) Trusts are established by families, groups or individuals to hold and manage assets for the benefit of others. Trusts may be incorporated under the Trustees (Perpetual Succession) Act (Chapter 164, Laws of Kenya) for religious, educational, literary, scientific, social, athletic, or charitable purposes (Trustees (Perpetual Succession) Act, Section 3(1)).
(4) Under the Societies Act, a society is "any club, company, partnership or other association of ten or more persons, whatever its nature or object, established in Kenya or having its headquarters or chief place of business in Kenya" (Societies Act, Section 2). The definition specifically excludes trade unions, cooperatives, corporations, and certain other entities. Societies are registered and regulated by the Registrar of Societies (Societies Act, Section 8). After grassroots organizations, societies are the second largest category of CSO: there are over 70,000 societies registered in Kenya.
(5) Cooperative societies and unions are registered at the Department of Cooperatives under the Cooperative Societies Act (Amended) 2004, No. 12 of 1997. They include consumer, producer and marketing cooperative societies in rural and urban areas and housing development societies found in major urban areas. They are voluntary membership organizations and advance the welfare, economic interests and goals of their members.
(6) Grassroots organizations include harambee or self-help groups and community-based organizations (CBOs) such as neighborhood associations. Self-help groups and CBOs are formally recognized through registration under the Department of Social Services in the Ministry of Gender and Children Affairs. As the largest group in the CSO sector, they operate primarily at the village and community level.
Public Benefit Status
Under the NGO Coordination Act, NGOs are established for the benefit of the public at large and for the promotion of social welfare, development, charity or research in the areas inclusive of, but not restricted to, health, relief, agriculture, education, industry, and the supply of amenities and services. Sessional Paper No. 1 of 2006, which is the National Policy for NGOs, describes NGO purposes as the following: “Enhancing the legitimate economic, social and/or cultural development or lobbying or advocating on issues of public interest or interest of a group of individuals or organizations.”
The other CSO forms are not restricted to public benefit purposes:
- Trusts may be established to promote religious, educational, literary, scientific, social or charitable, or athletic purposes.
- Societies may be established for any purpose or object.
- Cooperative societies and unions can be created for the promotion of the welfare and economic interests of their members.
- Grassroots organizations exist to advance the interests of their members and the immediate needs of the local communities in which they operate.
Barriers to Entry
CSOs in Kenya are subject to a range of potential legal barriers to formation, establishment and registration.
First, the Government may deny registration of NGOs and societies on vague and ambiguous grounds, which invite arbitrary and subjective decision-making. For example, the NGO Coordination Board may refuse registration of an NGO applicant if it is satisfied that its proposed activities or procedures are not “in the national interest”; or if it is satisfied, on the recommendation of the NGO Council,  that the applicant should not be registered. While the Board may sometimes furnish the applicant with an explanation for the refusal of registration, the Board is not legally required to do so. In practice, denial on the broad ground of the “national interest” has been used unjustifiably to curtail the rights of NGOs. 
Similarly, the Registrar of Societies has wide discretion to refuse to register a society if he has “reasonable cause to believe” that the society has among its objects, or is likely to pursue or be used for, any unlawful purpose or any purpose prejudicial to or incompatible with the peace, welfare or good order in Kenya, or that the interests of peace, welfare or good order in Kenya would otherwise be likely to suffer prejudice by registration of the society. The Registrar may also refuse to register a society where he is satisfied that such society is a branch of, or is affiliated to or connected with, any organization or association of a political nature established outside Kenya. Additional reasons for denial apply where the terms of the constitution or rules of the society or the name of the society is in any respect repugnant to or inconsistent with any law or is otherwise undesirable.
Second, the law is vague and ambiguous on a number of issues where wide discretion is given to the NGO Board and the Minister. For example, the certificate of registration for NGOs may contain such terms and conditions as the NGO Coordination Board may prescribe.  There are no guidelines, however, to ensure that the Board uses this prescriptive power in a clear, objective and predictable manner.
Third, the law does not explicitly provide a fixed time period within which the NGO Coordination Board must act on NGO registration applications. In practice, however, applications for NGO registration are often processed within about 90 days.
Finally, NGOs and societies are subject to mandatory registration, at least according to the law as written, although this has not proved problematic in practice. Under the NGO Coordination Act, for example, it is illegal for any person to operate an NGO in Kenya without registration and a certificate under the NGO Coordination Act. In practice, however, many CSOs that fall within the definition of NGO have opted to register under alternative legal forms. The Societies Act provides that every society which is not a registered society or an exempted society is an unlawful society. Hence, where ten or more persons get together, they are expected, according to the law, to have that group registered. There are stiff penalties for operating as a society without a registration certificate. This legal provision is, however, rarely enforced.
 The NGO Council is a national umbrella body for NGOs. Once NGOs are registered by the NGO Coordination Board, they are required to apply for membership in the Council. The Council is supposed to represent the interests of its members, but is currently inactive.
 Kameri-Mbote, Patricia, Dr. (2000) ‘The Operational Environment and Constraints for NGOs in Kenya’ IELRC Working Paper, www.ielrc.org.
 Section 12(4) NGO Coordination Act
Barriers to Operational Activity
For NGOs, the law provides no serious legal obstacles to operational activity. NGOs are subject to the supervisory authority of the NGO Coordination Board and must submit annual returns to the Board within three months of the end of their financial year, in the prescribed format. Expenditure or receipts exceeding Ksh. 1 million should be accompanied by audited accounts. Where any concerns about impropriety arise from an NGO’s annual return, a wide range of sanctions are available for use by the NGO Coordination Board including admonition, fines, and warnings, followed by suspension or cancellation of registration and prosecution. These rules and requirements, however, are generally perceived to be reasonable, especially in light of the public benefit nature of NGOs.
Sessional Paper No. 1 2006, which is the National Policy for NGOs, states that all NGOs must reach agreement with the NGO Coordination Board on a variety of issues before commencing operations. The current terms and conditions for registration, which are set by the NGO Coordination Board, follow the law’s broad requirements and relate to issues of governance, areas of activity, submission of annual returns and tax exemptions. Thus far, the conditions are perceived to be fairly reasonable and NGOs have been generally agreeable to them.
The Societies Act includes a number of potentially troubling legal barriers affecting societies:
- The Act gives wide discretion to the Registrar of Societies and sweeping powers to various government officials with respect to investigating, arresting, entering and searching the premises of any society.
- The Act makes it an offence for a society to fail to keep a register of its members, their names, and the date of admission and exit. Where societies fail to comply with requirements to provide membership lists, annual accounts or other information, they are liable to heavy penalties, including fines and imprisonment.
- Where it is alleged that a society is an unlawful society, the burden of proving that it is a registered or exempted society or that it is not a society shall lie with the person charged.
In practice, however, these powers are rarely exercised. Societies generally operate under minimum supervision. Only occasionally, where a group is suspected to be conducting illegal activities, have the provisions in this Act been put into effect.
Barriers to Speech / Advocacy
Generally, there are no legal barriers for CSOs to speak out or engage in advocacy efforts on any issues of public importance.
The definition of NGO under section 2 of the NGO Coordination Act is limited in terms of the scope of activities envisaged for NGOs; advocacy and public policy activities are not expressly included. Nonetheless, Sessional Paper No. 1 provides for a broader definition of NGO activities, which includes organizations that lobby or advocate on issues of public interest. The NGO Coordination Act will be revised in accordance with the Sessional Paper’s approach.
Barriers to International Contact
The NGO Coordination Act Regulations provide that no NGO can become a branch of or affiliated to or connected with any organization or group of a political nature established outside Kenya, except with the prior consent in writing of the NGO Coordination Board, obtained upon written application addressed to the Director and signed by three officers of the NGO. Where an NGO fails to do so, it is guilty of an offence. This provision may be interpreted narrowly and hence serve as a barrier to communication and cooperation.
Barriers to Resources
Generally, Kenyan law provides a conducive framework for CSOs to seek and secure funding. For example:
- CSOs are permitted to engage in economic activities provided that the profits are used to further the CSO’s purposes and that the activities are directly related to the CSO’s purposes or carried out on behalf of its beneficiaries. CSOs can conduct the business activities either directly or through for-profit subsidiaries.
- Local resource mobilization through harambees (public fund-raisers) is recognized, as long as it adheres to the guidelines in the Public Collections Act, which is generally enabling.
- There are no special rules relating to the receipt of foreign funds by CSOs.
- CSOs are permitted to compete for government funds in free and open competitions where specific guidelines have been established. (There are, however, very few instances where CSOs receive funding from the Government.)
|UN Universal Periodic Review Reports||Kenya, Universal Periodic Review 2010|
|Reports of UN Special Rapporteurs||Kenya|
|USIG (United States International Grantmaking) Country Notes|
|U.S. State Department||2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Kenya
Advancing Freedom and Democracy Reports, 2009: Kenya
|Failed States Index Reports||Foreign Policy: Failed States Index 2012|
|IMF Country Reports||Kenya and the IMF|
|International Commission of Jurists||Not available|
|International Center for Not-for-Profit Law Online Library||Kenya|
While we aim to maintain information that is as current as possible, we realize that situations can rapidly change. If you are aware of any additional information or inaccuracies on this page, please keep us informed; write to ICNL at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tough regulations to have strong impact on NGO sector (April 2013)
The Public Benefit Organisations Act (No. 18 of 2013) is bound to send shock waves across the NGO landscape when its implications begin to be felt in several months. Although the new law was assented to by the President on January 14, 2013, it is yet to come into force, pending the gazettement of the commencement date by the Cabinet Secretary for Planning and National Development under whose docket public benefit organisations (formerly known as NGOs) will fall. Apart from introducing a few cosmetic changes such as christening NGOs as Public Benefit Organisations (PBOs), the NGO Coordination Board as the Public Benefit Organisations Regulatory Authority, and the NGO Council as the National Federation of Public Benefit Organisations, the new law also introduces other drastic changes to the NGO sector.
NGOs hit back at Museveni remarks (December 2012)
President Museveni instructed the Director of Public Prosecutions to investigate two NGOs- Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (Acode) and Africa Institute for Energy Governance. The President warned the two NGOs against undermining national interests during a speech delivered in Parliament in mid-December. The two NGOs were instrumental in advocating for transparency in the execution of oil contracts and criticism of the oil bills.
Civil society accuses judges of derailing reforms (November 2012)
A section of civil society has accused High Court judges of being a hindrance to judicial reforms. The groups also want Chief Justice Willy Mutunga to restore public confidence in the vetting process. The activists said the ruling by the High Court overturning the decision of the Vetting Board was a slap in the face of Kenyans, who had regained confidence in the Judiciary following a wave of reforms.
Civil society to educate public on Constitution (August 2012)
The fight for Kenyans’ constitutional rights and the implementation of the Constitution must not be left to political leaders. Civil society has called on Kenyans to reawaken and observes that Kenyans have been left out in major processes of constitution implementation.They expressed the need for educating and engaging people to ensure proper management of the transition.(Read more)
Civil society up in arms over Integrity Bill (August 2012)
A section of civil society has threatened to go to court if Parliament approves the Leadership and Integrity Bill as was presented by the government. They say the Cabinet removed key sections of the Bill that would have ensured that Kenyans have proper leaders after the next elections.
NGOs council wants funding at grassroots (June 2012)
The National Council of NGOs has urged donors to fund NGOs at the grassroots level in rural areas instead of concentrating on major cities. Council chairman Ken Wafula said donors should change the funding style and finance the groups at the county level so that they can be able to conduct civic education programs.
Civil society challenges President over pending electoral laws (June 2012)
Civil society organizations have petitioned President Kibaki not to assent to the Statute Law Miscellaneous Amendment Bill 2012, which contains controversial amendments proposed by MPs on two electoral laws. Speaking on behalf of the CSOs, Kenya Human Rights Commission Executive Director Atsango Chesoni said the bill would allow presidential election losers to be nominated to Parliament, and would deny the youth and women a chance to participate in decision making. Chesoni said “Amendments made on Section 14 of the Political Parties Act 2011, Section 22 of the Elections Act 2011 and Section 23 (2) of the Vetting of Judges and Magistrates Act 2011 by the Members of Parliament were enacted with a measure of self-bias and self-interest in the run-up to the forth coming general elections.”
Rights activists reject amended laws (June 2012)
Civil society groups have petitioned President Mwai Kibaki not to assent to the Statute Law Miscellaneous Amendment Bill 2012, which contains controversial amendments proposed by MPs on two electoral laws. The groups staged a peaceful demonstration in front of Parliament buildings and the President's office where they presented their petition.
NGOs oppose Finance Minister’s plan to tax their income (June 2012)
NGOs have opposed plans by the government to begin taxing income raised by churches, civil society groups and charities, which was proposed by Finance minister Njeru Githae. NGO Council chairman Ken Wafula says the proposal made by Githae in last week's budget will force many international NGOs to withdraw from the country while local ones will be forced to close down.
NGOs wrangle over law to rein in sector (May 2012)
Local and international charities are debating about a proposed law that aims to regulate the Sh130 billion NGO sector. Although the board that regulates NGOs has tabled the Non-Governmental Organisations Draft Bill 2012 for public debate, some charities are pushing for a different Bill. Nominated MP Sofia Abdi plans to table the Public Benefit Organisation Bill, 2012. National Council of NGOs chairman Ken Wafula, who supports the government Bill, accused Ms Abdi of working with international NGOs to defeat a “good” Bill.
Ntimama finally appoints NGO board (March 2012)
Heritage minister William ole Ntimama has finally constituted the NGO coordination board after being threatened with a lawsuit because of the two year delay that transpired. Ntimama named politicians Charles Kipyegon Too, Dee Kivuva and his Narok North competitor William Salaon ole Yiaile as board members. They will be joined by George Obondo, Paul Ntiati, Kharta Sigat and Mary Sarrisarr. They will serve for the next three years.
Civil society already driving vision 2030 (July 2011)
Illegal NGOs to be closed (March 2011)
Kenya: Don't waste the new Constitution (August 2010)
Kenya: Voice of reason in law review (August 2010)
House agrees to repeal law on injustices (April 2010)
Civil society to educate public on draft law (May 2010)
The foregoing information was collected by the ICNL NGO Law Monitor partner in Kenya, Faith Kisinga Gitonga, consultant on the enabling environment for civil society.