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Kenya Civil Society Organisation Standards

The development of Standards for CSOs in Kenya was inspired by the need to have harmonised minimum CSO standards that organisations can aspire towards; use for self improvement and be recognized. The long term benefits from the implementation of sector wide standards includes: improved programming, better organisational governance, integrity, improved service delivery to society and better image of the civil society sector.

For standards to be embraced and adopted by various civil society players there has to be involvement and regular consultation in their development; refinement and implementation. There is need to recognize the diverse nature of the sector and individual CSO characteristics including size, resource base, capability and culture, and any predictable challenges these will have on the successful implementation of the agreed standards.  It is important to acknowledge that even CSOs in the same category, may share certain basic class characteristics yet face different challenges in the adoption and implementation of the agreed standards.

Some CSOs lack the drive and resources to undertake continuous improvement initiatives and will need to be encouraged by other stakeholders including peers to meet the minimum standard.

 Lack of a clear legislative and policy framework for this important sector has impacted a common registration regime leading to several government bodies and ministries registering and regulating different aspects of the sector. The lack of a common registration and accepted definition of what constitutes civil society organisations in the country may very well prove an impediment to the implementation of the proposed standards. Also the large number of unregistered civil society organisations in the country will remain a challenge. There is need to advocate for a change in the legal and registration framework in the country to facilitate progressive regulation of this key sector of the Kenyan economy, and especially through adoption of common standards and code of practice.

Some players in the sector may resist standards implementation and especially when they regard them as a challenge to their power base and control.  Anecdotal evidence indicates that there has been an invasion of the CSO and NGO sector, particularly in the recent times, by “joy riders” who lack an understanding of the ethos of the sector and who, in certain instances, have brought to it, negative cultures and practices. These in their attempt to serve self interest, predictably may be expected to stand in the way of the smooth adoption and implementation of the standards, and especially when they view a streamlined sector as a threat.  Innovative ways have to be found by the team mandated to drive the rollout of these standards to bring such characters to the fore, and further reach out to other leaders of the various CSOs with the object of embracing and driving the right internal organisational culture for successful implementation.


Standards describe a minimum level of performance. Standards provide benchmarks and targets intended to stimulate a process of quality improvement, upholding of common values and higher levels of accomplishment.

The following standards are proposed as benchmarks against which different types of CSOs may agree to collectively assess their performance, determine and undertake improvements needed to achieve desired outcomes. They will facilitate performance reviews that should be carried out regularly for the purpose of self and continuous improvement.  The results could also be used for an award scheme or a national certification exercise to showcase national best practice.

Due to constantly changing global and local conditions, there will be need for continuous review of the standards to ensure that they remain relevant and motivating.

The proposed standards for CSOs in Kenya have been categorized as follows:

  1. Legal and statutory requirements
  2. Identity
  3. Governance
  4. Work planning and programming
  5. Management systems and policies
  6. Resource mobilization and resource utilization
  7. Partnerships and external relations
  8. Organisational culture and leadership
  9. Monitoring and evaluation

Read more here>> Kenya Civil Society Organisation standards

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