Access to Information: Katiba Institute hosts a community engagement on in Nakuru County. 

Katiba Institute (KI), in partnership with Midrift Hurinet, organised a community engagement on access to information in Nakuru County on Thursday, 30 May 2024. Participants included local media, community representatives and civil society organisations. The activity was part of an ongoing project by Katiba Institute to empower state institutions and citizens to use access to information to promote human rights and good governance. 

KI believes that community engagements are critical because they increase understanding of issues and empower communities to have their say over decisions that affect their lives. Through such forums, gaps relating to the Constitution are identified and followed through. 

Kevin Mabonga took participants through the basics of the right-to-access information. Article 35 of the Constitution of Kenya guarantees every citizen a right to access information. The Access to Information Act details this right and provides mechanisms to protect it.  

“The act provides how citizens may seek and get information from public or private entities. It also highlights the role of the Commission on Administrative Justice (ombudsman) in overseeing the working of the Act and enforcing it,” noted Mabonga. 

Leonard Githae, the Deputy Executive Director of Midrift Hurinet, highlighted the importance of access to information in countering misinformation and disinformation. He further noted that access to information is crucial for promoting public participation and open governance.  

During the event, the Nakuru Media Council of Kenya regional coordinator Joseph Mecha shared the Media Council of Kenya’s strong support for access to information initiatives through increased awareness and digitisation. He highlighted journalists’ vital role in enhancing the right to access information. 

“It’s essential for the community to recognise and appreciate the valuable role of journalists by engaging with them and consulting experts in various fields. This collaborative approach will help everyone understand the importance of sharing accurate information.” Mecha noted. 

Participants highlighted the need to extend civic education in the community to help people understand the roles of institutions and elected leaders. They also discussed the importance of sensitising duty bearers and finding ways to navigate government bureaucracy to ensure easy access to information. 

Katiba Institute was commended for its valuable contribution through access to information training and developing a simplified access to information handbook.  

“The engagement is an eye-opener for me as a human rights defender. I will use the knowledge to identify relevant areas to seek information from government bodies and use the correct channel as guided by the law.” a participant noted. 

KI team also took the discussion on Radio Yetu, a community radio station based in Nakuru.  

Katiba Institute will hold another session with the participants to take them through the process of getting information and discuss their experiences in seeking information from public entities. 

By Irene W. Kiragu 

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