DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE

DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE

This regime of autocratic governance in which human rights violations are the rule rather than the exception, has produced an extremely fearful, submissive and ideologically imprisoned citizenry in Marsabit county. To a larger extent, ignorance of the law and fear of state power has contributed to the appellation. Lack of access to information and the media have failed to sensitize and mobilize the people on their constitutional rights and duties. The NGO’s operating in the district chooses to focus their interventions in development activities. They consider civic education a very sensitive undertaking likely to place them on a collision course with the authorities. ALCHA consider this a case of misplaced priorities because in the absence of a sound constitutional order, the visibility and sustainability of such development initiatives are likely to be short lived.
  • Civic Education and Engagement:
  • Access to Justice and Realization of human rights
  • Gender Governance:

Civic Education and Engagement:

Objective: Expanding civic and voter knowledge and awareness on rights and responsibilities to enable them make informed decisions. ALCHA is implementing Expanding citizen engagement in political and democratic governance processes under the "Rooting Democracy in Kenya" program funded by Uraia Trust. ALCHA empowers marginalized pastoralist communities especially women and girls, youths, persons with disabilities and ethnic minorities to make informed decisions through the methodologies below.

Methodologies of achieving intervention parameters;

i) Sustained Civic Education delivery
ii) Mass Civic Education
iii) Citizen engagement in democratic governance processes
iv) Social Accountability
v) Public Policy Advocacy

Access to Justice and Realization of human rights

b) Access to Justice and Realization of human rights

Objective: Increasing access to legal aid and assistance for the poor and the marginalized.
Low level of awareness of their most basic rights and duties is a foremost human rights problem facing pastoralist women. Vast majority remain virtually unaware of the laws and institutions put in place to defend them. There is minimal referral mechanisms to other justice institutions such as FIDA-K, Kenya National Commission on human rights, National coalition of human rights defenders, Kituo cha Sheria etc. Pastoralists also have preference of Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanism (ADR) over formal justice system where ADR resolution mostly fail to conform with the bill of rights as enshrined in the constitution of Kenya. Several cases are therefore resolved at village levels without the victims accessing justice. Paralegal services are also inadequate paralegal and mostly concentrated in urban centres where citizens are better informed and exposed. Far flung and resource-poor pastoralists lack paralegal services. Limited access to legal services is also evidenced through absence of law firms in the county, few local legal professionals and few law courts (one in Marsabit and another in Moyale), inadequate mobile courts established. Economic barriers such as low affordability to access advocates and court fees as well as cost of presenting witnesses in courts, High level of corruption that negatively influence court decisions are other constraints in accessing legal services.
Civil societies have low technical capacity to effectively undertake human rights promotion and protection interventions including knowledge and skills in executing legal and human rights issues, human right defenders safety and protection ethics, equipments, financial and logistical constraints. Thus insecurity of human right defenders is evident in Marsabit county as they are subjected to harassments, intimidation, arbitrary arrests and extra-judicial killings. Vastness of county that covers an area of over 78,000 sq.km also limits CSOs scope of work. There is minimal coordination efforts of human right defenders interventions resulting in duplication of projects in certain areas. Unhealthy competition among CSOs and tribal inclinations leave behind baseless envies and sour relationships.
Similarly, local communities and law enforcement agencies are two worlds apart owing to negative communal attitude towards Kenya police who are taken as enemy rather than partner. Referring case for legal redress in courts are largely assumed as exposing the offender to an "enemy". To achieve meaningful strides towards sustainable access to justice in the pastoralist region, this particular attitude needs to be seriously reversed through regular interface meetings between duty bearers and rights holders as well as embracing the community policing structures and strategies set by the government.
Interventions:

Paralegalism: The organization has an established and functional paralegal desk for over 6 years with fully fledged 20 community-based paralegals/grassroots community advocates. Community and institution-based paralegals provide legal services including advice, drafting legal documents, human rights monitoring and reporting and directing victims of violations to respective offices. Some of the basic legal documents that local communities benefit from at ALCHA's paralegal desk on day to day basis includes plaints, defence, affidavits, certificate of urgency, notice of motion/intention to sue and letter of interlocutory judgement among others. The community paralegals have been equipped with legal first aid kits encompassing paralegal journal, identification badges, paralegal manuals, half coats and bags.

Juvenile Justice: ALCHA promotes and protects child rights with special focus on girl-child against forced and early marriages, defilements, child labour, trafficking, abduction, denial of access to basic education and parental care to provide basic necessities,

ALCHA facilitates establishment of functional school-based right clubs where leaners provide peer support to one another to control and report retrogressive cultural practices within school environment and enhances levels of learner retention and transition in schools.

Human Rights education: The organization trains members of the community, CSOs, community opinion leaders and media practitioners on Human Rights-Based approach (HRBA) to development. It also carries out security training on protection of human rights defenders for CSOs, FBOs and media practitioners. The general public are enlightened through training on Economic, Social and Cultural rights. (ESCRs) and public forums.

Toll free and bulk SMS services: This platform is used by community members for timely and effective reporting human rights violations from rural villages. On the other hand, it is used to disseminate vital information to large population of residents and primary stakeholders.

Referral of cases to higher justice institutions: ALCHA facilitates Court Users Committee (CUC), Child protection committee, Probation case and Community Service Order (CSO) and Area Advisory Council (AAC) meetings on child rights and protection. The organization further facilitates referral of cases to FIDA-Kenya, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, National coalition of human rights defenders, Kituo cha Sheria etc.

Gender Governance

Objective: Creating an enabling environment for women to defend and/or demand their rights to meaningfully expand their civic spaces

Culturally, the pastoralist society is patriarchal in nature and portrays women as inferior, incompetent for leadership positions and division of labour stereotyped for them. Due to discriminations stemmed from age-old patriarchal cultures women are not entitled to leadership positions, participate in decision-making forums, development of policy and legislative frameworks and ownership of properties like livestock, land and houses. Gender-based violence and discrimination of women and girls also manifest itself through early and forced marriages of school girls in rural areas and ethnic minorities, unreported rape and defilements for fear of stigmatization, Female Genital Mutilations (FGM) attributed to cultural and religious practices (e.g. "sunna" in Islam), physical assaults from spouses, extended family members and other male residents, wife inheritance among traditionalists and Muslims increasing vulnerability to dangerous diseases like HIV/AIDS; and preference of boy-child over girl-child resulting to negative attitude of girls education leading to low retention and transition in schools.


Deep-seated negative attitude against women ultimately render them feel lesser human and incapable of holding leadership positions. Such obstacles limited women from developing their leadership potentials and take full advantage of positive enabling environment created by Kenyan constitution and various policies. Low level of awareness of their most basic rights and duties is a foremost human rights problem facing pastoralist women. Vast majority remain virtually unaware of the laws and institutions put in place to defend them. Paralegal services are inadequate and therefore minimal referral mechanisms to national justice institutions. Widespread preference of alternative dispute resolution mechanism over formal justice system where ADR resolutions largely fails to conform with the bill of rights, leaves many victims without accessing justice.


Interventions: ALCHA consistently addresses systemic issues of pastoralist women and girls who face specific forms of gender-based violence (GBV) and intimidation in both private and public spaces, with their spouses, members of their extended families and other male residents standing out as the key perpetrators. The problem of local patriarchy socializes men for gender-based violence. Sadly, impunity looms dangerously in the local environment; over and above supporting Gender-based violence and discrimination, the patriarchal system near-perfectly obscures the heinous crimes from public scrutiny. This not only violates the survivors’ right to an effective remedy, but also potentially deters local women from participating in economic and socio-political processes. Often, defaulters face dire consequences, including neglect, excommunication, and even family breaks and unilateral divorce (for women).The situation is particularly worse for women and girls With Disabilities, who are often hidden from public limelight. Even more worse is the situation of women and girls with disability from minority ethnic groups, who face multiple marginalization.


To reduce this trend ALCHA organizes trainings on gender-based rights for pastoralist women and girls to enable them desist from harmful cultural practices. To boost women political participation, women elites forum were held to map out women political future in the region. Local radio stations were engaged in popular vernacular languages to advocate for women political and appointive leadership positions. Women aspirants were given motivational lectures to inspire them to political leadership positions. IEC materials to eliminate self-limiting attitudes among pastoralist women were also produced and disseminated. Material support such as posters were provided for pastoralist women aspirants during electioneering period. An advocacy platform "Women for Leadership and Policy Watch (WLPW)" was formed and operationalized. Further, women were engaged as civic and voter educators and election observers.

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