The Right to Know: Displaced communities securing a future in Kenya

The Right to Know: Displaced communities securing a future in Kenya - Transparency

In a dry field near the village of Maai Mahiu people sit among the tents of a camp for internally displaced persons. They arrived here after fleeing the post-election violence that followed the disputed 2007 national elections.


ARTICLE 19 has been working with people in Kenya who have been uprooted from their homes by conflict, discrimination and ethnic violence to help them fight to improve their circumstances. By training displaced communities to use the right to information, we are encouraging Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to find out what help and support is available to them;  to make sure the authorities are delivering what they have promised; and campaign to have a voice in decisions that are made which affect them. 

The situation:

Thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes in Kenya for a number of reasons, including political and ethnically instigated violence, drought, flooding, constructions projects and land disputes.

Internal displacement is a recurring problem in Kenya. Estimates indicates that tens of thousands of people were displaced in 2012. Official figures show that over 660,000 people were internally displaced during the political violence following the 2007 election; while almost 300,000 are thought to be living with family, friends or have found rented accommodation in a new area, large numbers remain in refugee camps.

What we’re doing:

ARTICLE 19 has been working with internally displaced communities in Nyanza region. We have been working to increase awareness about the right to information and train families on how they can use the right to information laws in Kenya to improve their circumstances and campaign for solutions to the problems they face.

The Nyanza region has a large population of displaced people who were originally based in the Rift valley and Central regions in 2007. When violence broke out, a great number of people returned to Nyanza as their ancestral home. Because of this, many are not officially recognised as internally displaced persons (IDPs) by the government; they are considered to be ‘integrated’ – because they have family connections with the area. These communities are not included on official state databases and therefore they are frequently excluded from the initiatives and benefits set up by the government to support internally displaced people.

Case study:

Joseph Cheruyot is an community leader from Majani Mingi IDP Camp.

He was forced to leave his home in the Mau forest after being evicted.

“The RTI [training] helped me to know my rights and the rights of the people I (am) representing. I now have practical training on the IDP Act, which is very important.”

“One success is that I was able to gather information that I used to seek help from the government. It came at the best time of my life when I really needed information. It is a good initiative because it is never easy to find someone who is willing to give you information freely.”

Since attending ARTICLE 19’s right to information training Joseph, together with his family and his community group have been resettled in Nakuru.

ARTICLE 19 East Africa Director, Henry Maina, elaborated on the challenges faced by people who have been internally displaced in Kenya and why ARTICLE 19 developed this training programme.

“Whole communities of people have been forced to flee their homes. They face major problems in their pursuit of resettlement, as they often lack the proper information and knowledge needed to make informed decisions and to tackle their issues. The training has been designed to help them to understand the IDP Act 2012 and use this law to resettle. The lack of information has been the main stumbling block for great number of people. It means that they struggle to be able to meaningfully participate in democratic process and influence the biggest issues affecting their lives”