Organization Description

Location: Nyali Setting: Urban/Rural Established: 2001 Staff: 4

 

Subject Areas

Human Rights: Legal Issues, Equality, Environmental Law, Community Action

Community Development: Community Empowerment, Capacity Building, Building Social Capital, Social Responsibility, Community Planning

Environment: Resource Management, Conservation, Environmental Health, Environmental Education, Biodiversity

 

Organization Objectives

Ujamaa is a dynamic community center devoted to mobilizing Kenyan citizens to regain ownership of local natural resources. It also works to challenge the current development paradigm that has historically marginalized the coastal region. Its goals are to:

  • Support community efforts to build a self-sustaining alternative sector in Kenya’s Coast Region
  • Raise the competence of community institutions and their representatives at all levels of the Coast region
  • Develop informational support service in order to spread knowledge and catalyze change
  • Produce publications on human rights issues, consumerism and alternative practices
  • Establish a permanent structure in Kenya which will devote its efforts to the development and growth of alternative systems, spirituality and building social and community capital
  • Defend and extend the rights of communities and their organizations in the Coast region

 

Program Information

 

1.     Advocacy

Ujamaa works on several campaigns to raise awareness on issues of local governance within communities along the coast. Their campaigns address basic human rights, trade relations, and quality of leadership within municipal councils. Four of their current campaigns are:

  • It’s Time Land Advocacy: The coast has been historically divided among competing landowners and interests. This campaign helps communities along the coast to realize their property rights and challenge the status quo of absentee landlords and corruption of ownership documents.
  • Trade and Environment Campaign: This campaign aims to defend the rights of farmers and landowners in the marketplace and provide support in negotiating prices and locating suitable markets. It also lobbies for environmental justice and works to expose the current unregulated environmental degradation and depletion of natural resources caused by industries in local communities.
  • Anti-Globalization Movement: This campaign supports the formation of social forums in response to poor leadership, lack of access to information at the grassroots level and to raise awareness of how globalization affects local communities.

 

Opportunities

  • Provide support for ongoing campaigns
  • Research current Kenyan foreign policy and organize forums to encourage debate and dialogue on key international issues
  • Conduct quantitative and qualitative research on the efforts of Ujamaa and on linkages with local forms of government
  • Work to develop Ujamaa’s local support network by attending local village meetings, making connections with the academic sector and participating in governmental forums
  • Assist with information dissemination within the community
  • Create written materials on campaign topics for distribution and education

 

Requirements

  • Interest in working closely with rural, poor communities
  • Ability to handle long hours in arid, rural communities with poor infrastructures and limited resources
  • Possess an open mind, be flexible and feel comfortable working in predominantly Muslim communities that may not be used to interacting with foreigners
  • Background in political science, economics, environmental policy or related topics
  • Desire to learn and speak Swahili

 

2.     Social Enterprises

Ujamaa works at the grassroots level to support community organizations, develop community assets and target community businesses involved in natural resource use. The Natural Resource Control/Rights Project provides an example of how Ujamaa integrates advocacy with issues of natural resource use. Launched in September 2003 with support from the Big Lottery Fund, the project’s core purpose is to build individual, organizational and institutional capacity to enable poor people in rural communities of Kwale and Kilifi Districts to more effectively utilize and sustain local natural resources. Examples of such projects include beekeeping, horticulture, nurseries, cashew processing and alternative energy production.

 

Opportunities

  • Conduct studies of product development in rural communities where they have started sustainable natural resource businesses
  • Assist rural community groups in the direct development of products to a stage where they can compete at the market level
  • Conduct research on the effect of international trade on these local communities and compose a report
  • Research alternative energy production methods and create programmatic recommendations

 

Requirements

  • Interest in working closely with rural, poor communities
  • Ability to handle long hours in arid, rural communities with poor infrastructures and limited resources
  • Possess an open mind, be flexible and feel comfortable working in predominantly Muslim communities that may not be used to interacting with foreigners
  • Background in subjects such as political science, economics, environmental policy or related topics
  • Desire to learn and speak Swahili

 

Program Supervisor (All Programs)

Phyllis Muema is the Projects Coordinator at Ujamaa.

 

Note: Responsibilities offered to each participant will be proportionate to their level of experience. Participants who are new to development work may predominantly support and assist current project agendas, while those with much applicable experience may be able to assume greater responsibility. Research projects are strongly encouraged by this organization to support each program’s objectives because minimal resources are currently allocated for research.

 

Working Conditions

Ujamaa’s office is located in Nyali, a wealthier residential area that is a ten minute matatu ride north of Mombasa town. The center is equipped with computers, printers, and the internet. Although work is done all over the Coast Province, the majority of project work is done in more rural Kilifi and Kwale Districts, both of which are about 40 minutes from Mombasa. Depending on nature of work, up to 60% of time may be spent out in the field.

 

Organizational Background

The Ujamaa Center was founded as an experiment in spirituality and volunteerism, and in constructing alternative systems to mainstream ideologies. The genesis of Ujamaa Center lay in a need and opportunity in Kenya that required organized response as the ballast of cooperation. The center is involved with a variety of political, social and economic activities to sensitize the region to alternative methods of development. Their work is primarily in two areas: supporting and initiating advocacy efforts on issues of local governance, and supporting the development of social enterprises in relation to natural resource use. It is a not for profit, non-governmental organization.