Ongoing dialogue for the strengthening of cultural policies in Kenya

Art Against Poverty project

The NGO “CEFA” presented a new “cultural toolkit for public administrations” during a conference in Nairobi on December 3

On December 3, 2015, the Italian NGO “CEFA” organised a conference to present and disseminate among culture officials from the Kenyan Counties (regions) a new “cultural toolkit for public administrations”. The toolkit should enable the local administrations, now in charge of the cultural docket under the new Constitution, to better identify, evaluate, promote and monetise their cultural resources with a more standardised, useful and even internationally comparable methodology.

The conference was organised in the framework of the “Art Against Poverty” project, managed by CEFA and supported by the ACPCultures+ Programme (implemented by the Secretariat of the ACP Group of States and financed by the European Union).

The timing for the organisation of the seminar is not casual. The Kenyan authorities, in fact, started an inter-governmental dialogue that involves regional entities and practitioners in culture and the arts, primarily from the private sector to strengthen of the cultural sector in the country.

The toolkit has been developed as a result of previous seminars and was put forward for the evaluation of County officials, while at the same time consulting relevant institutions in Kenya – such as the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the Kenya National Commission for UNESCO and the Ministry of Devolution and Planning – to be involved in its finalisation and validation.

Speakers at the conference, highlighting the different sections of the toolkit, included John Mireri (Kenya National Commission for UNESCO), George Kimani (Transition Authority), Easter Ciombaine (African Cultural Regeneration Institute), and Julius Mwahunga (Department of Culture at the Ministry of Sports, Culture and the Arts).

Ten Counties were selected as a representative number for the total of 47 administrative units in Kenya, and these were:  Homa Bay, Kajiado, Kakamega, Kiambu, Kilifi, Kitui, Meru, Nakuru, Samburu and Turkana.

Baridi Manyasi, M&E Expert, State Department of Planning

Clear indications that emerged from the break-out groups that focused on the individual sections of the toolkit, namely Leadership and Co-ordination; Visioning; Needs and Provision Assessment; Delivery; and Monitoring and Evaluation. Across the board, these highlighted:

  1.  A clear gap in personnel capacity as far as the devolved cultural sector is concerned, and the consequent need for capacity-building.
  2. The need for better and more efficient co-operation between Counties and between the County and national levels in the mainstreaming of cultural policies.
  3. The need for a momentous change in perspective when considering the relative allocation of resources for culture and the arts vis-à-vis other sectors that invariably appear to take precedence.

It should be underlined that this event would not have been possible without the continuing support and efforts infused by the Department of Culture at the Ministry of Sports, Culture and the Arts, and the Transition Authority, which provided pro-active and competent members for the technical team that negotiated and prepared the conference over the span of several months.

The next steps, on the strength of the conference’s success and recommendations, are now to define a way forward that may stretch beyond the Art against Poverty’s own duration (and identify available resources) in order to keep this dialogue going and to reach the point where the toolkit is made final and passed to the relevant County officials. Most probably some training will be required, followed by a monitoring and evaluation exercise to verify goals and results and introduce corrections in terms of objectives and methodology.



December 10, 2015
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