Globally connected, locally engaged
WHAT IS THE ACTIVE CITIZENS PROGRAMME?
Active Citizens programme aims to bring about sustainable social change within communities by establishing a global network of leaders. Our purpose is to increase the contribution of community leaders towards achieving sustainable development both locally and globally.
We work with people who have already demonstrated local social responsibility, including youth workers, women’s groups, educators and faith leaders. We offer these participants training to develop their leadership skills and provide them the chance to gain a global perspective on social development.
Learn more about the programme and be inspired by the achievements of our Active Citizens on the Active Citizens website.
Active Citizens in Kenya
In Kenya, the Active Citizens programme has drawn participants from eleven communities that were particularly affected by post election violence in 2007/2008: Kwale, Msambweni, Ndeffo, Njoro, Likia, Kuresoi, Olmoran, Sotik/Borabu, Transkuria, Rongo and Mt.Elgon.
We have also worked with the Ministry of Justice in the National Peace Forums in 47 counties across the country, culminating in a national forum on peace that reached a television and radio audience of approximately ten million.
How it works
The Active Citizens programme offers Kenyan participants access to current UK views, perspectives, attitudes and ideas around community relations and development, while UK participants gain exposure to the complex reality of Africa, its challenges and ways of doing things, as well as its potential and achievements in community relations and grassroots participation.
The programme fosters awareness of identity and culture, and encourages an appreciation of the similarities between people from different cultures. As a result of the programme, community leaders gain greater understanding of how to achieve change in challenging situations and commit to applying this learning to positive effect in their own communities through social action projects.
Participants are given the following opportunities:
- Training: participants are introduced to the programme, led through a process of self-discovery and introduced to thinking around issues such as global citizenship, systems thinking and community project planning.
- Networking: participants get to build international professional networks with foreign participants.
- Social action: the group implements a project that addresses either community cohesion or a community development need.
- International exchange: participants get the chance to visit one another in their different countries to experience life in another culture.
- Social entrepreneurship: participants pass on skills to their communities to support local social enterprises.
'The exchange trip to Cardiff was a turning point for me and my colleagues: it was a fun, educational and inspirational adventure. We met so many dedicated, organised, informed, committed and hardworking Active Citizens from Wales … not forgetting their communities and families too.” – Ali Mondo, Active Citizen from Mombasa, Kenya
ACTIVE CITIZENS TO INCREASE YOUTH CONNECTIONS IN GOVERNANCE.
The new strand of the Active Citizens programme which has been running in Kenya since 2009 focussed on a new approach that majored on the involvement of youth across three African countries- Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. At the heart of this new approach was a greater emphasis on the participation of youth in matters of governance and a need to involve young people in new innovative social enterprise activities.
This new approach in the Active Citizens programme, which is a British Council project run in partnership with the Directorate of National Cohesion (DNC) and the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) was launched in Nakuru, in 2014.
The aim of the new approach was to test out this new model by focusing on cross-cutting issues in the areas of accountability, entrepreneurship and social cohesion, which puts the youth at the forefront of those interventions. It had become apparent that young people- who form the bulk of the poor in these three countries- were not adequately involved by their governments in issues of governance, and political leaders were not accountable in their dealings with their citizenry, leading to poor delivery of services to their people.
This pilot project had clear objectives from the outset:
- Promote skills for intercultural dialogue and an understanding of global interdependency as key competencies for youth leaders in the 21st century.
- Create a platform for sharing best practice in community led youth engagement/social action projects between the 3 participating countries, the UK and the rest of the world.
- Develop capacity of youth in the area of social entrepreneurship (enterprise) as a means to address social challenges through community-led initiatives.
- Promote increased social accountability for public processes and resources by enhancing the awareness, knowledge and skills of youth and youth leaders.
The new Kenya approach was developed to build on the successes of the Active Citizens original model which focused on building national cohesion in order to respond to the impact and effects of the post-election violence that hit the country in 2007 and 2008. It aimed to build on the existing Active Citizens local networks of communities at the grass-root level while expanding their relevance to specifically address the new realities of the evolving governance issues brought about by devolution, by enhancing the role and building the capacity of the youth to drive the agenda of national cohesion and accountability.
The new Active Citizens programme in Kenya was piloted and tested in the Counties of Kisii and Nakuru. Consideration was taken into account with the new constitutional dispensation which has new local governance structures brought about by devolution, which creates social accountability mechanisms between government and the people. Therefore, this approach tested how the youth in the country can play an active role in matters of governance within the new devolved systems of governance.
Execution of the new approach:
The British Council and its partners on the Active Citizens programme recruited 14 community- based youth groups across the two Counties of Kisii and Nakuru, who sent two delegates to the National Training of Trainers.
The training seeked to empower community- based youth organisations to actively contribute to national cohesion and social accountability within devolved systems of government. The youth groups were expected to create strong local units to spearhead the process. The social accountability initiatives used a range of formal and informal rewards and sanctions.
The youth groups were expected to implement Social Action projects in their areas of operation, by for example participating in the preparations of county budgets as well as playing a watch-dog role to the local government to check on excesses. They were to organise their communities into civic constituencies and to generate and share information on the use of public funds. Additionally, they were to help to set up civic action groups or social audit teams and to generate appropriate customised action research tools and coordinate feedback between those teams and project committees or public fund managers.
The Active Citizens project came to its conclusion in 2015.