Access to Information: Katiba Institute convenes stakeholders in Samburu County

Katiba Institute (KI) convened a meeting on 14 March 2024 in Maralal, Samburu County, comprised of civil society organisations, community representatives, the county government and the media. The meeting was the first activity of a project titled “ Empowering State Institutions and Citizens to Use Access to Information for the Promotion of Human Rights and Good Governance”, thanks to the support from the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Nairobi.

Through the project,  KI aims to empower government institutions to disclose public information proactively through various platforms. The project also seeks to help citizens become more responsive to opportunities for engagement with the government to demand accountability.

Katiba Institute’s Programs Manager, Patricia Joseph, outlined the importance of access to information as a right. She said that access to information affects every aspect of life and challenged participants to be proactive about the subject.

“ Article 35 of our Constitution provides for the right to access information while the Access to Information Act of 2016 gives effect to the right.”

Patriciah further noted that the right to access information allows for better transparency and accountability of public services because knowledgeable citizens engage their governments.

Media Council of Kenya Regional Coordinator, Karanja Jackson,  lauded KI for implementing the project and incorporating journalists who he said were critical in facilitating access to information. He said that access to information is critical in empowering citizens to participate in decision-making processes, hold authorities accountable, and advocate for their rights.

A county government official took participants to a presentation on public participation. Access to information was cited as a critical condition for meaningful public participation.

Participants urged the county government to diversify its communication channels – the county mainly uses notices and the website. They recommended the use of local and community radio to reach more people. Another issue was planning and conducting public participation forums where specific individuals attend. The county government, however, clarified that a straightforward procedure was used to identify participants.

Katiba Institute plans to organise training targeting county government officials, civil society organisations, community members and journalists. This will be crucial to empower the groups to utilise the access to information law in Kenya.

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