Wanjiru Gikonyo: COVID-19 is a wake-up call for Kenya to focus on vulnerable communities as much as big infrastructure


In this fifth “Coronavignette,” we continue to share conversations with leaders of civil society organizations we support on how COVID-19 affects their work.

Wanjiru Gikonyo is National Coordinator of The Institute for Social Accountability (TISA) based in Nairobi, Kenya. Since the adoption of Kenya’s 2010 Constitution, TISA has sought to advance the constitution’s central tenet: transforming the way power in Kenya is distributed and managed, chiefly through the decentralization of government power down from the national to the county level.

In the 9-minute video, Wanjiru describes:

  • How, so far, Kenya has dodged a bullet when it comes to COVID-19. But we know that there will be more disease outbreaks in the future
  • Kenya does not have the community structures, solidarity networks, or safety nets to protect its most vulnerable communities
  • Why civil society organizations in Kenya need to push government harder and innovate faster, including by partnering with unlikely allies
  • How Kenya’s judiciary surprisingly asserted its autonomy during the shut-down to protect civil liberties and put a check on the government’s heavy-handed response
  • The reason for the decentralization of Kenya’s governance in its 2010 constitution and the hope that it will empower citizens by bringing them closer to the decisions that affect their lives
  • How COVID-19 has emphasized the importance of community structures and safety nets more than the big infrastructure projects favored by Kenya’s government, such as the costly Standard Gauge Railway



Hewlett Foundation's Inclusive Governance Team

Updates from the Hewlett Foundation’s Inclusive Governance team. Part of our Gender Equity & Governance Program https://hewlett.org/