Eastern Africa

What inequality looks like

Eastern Africa is one of the fastest-growing regions in the world. But the advantages of this growth do not reach all people. Millions are excluded from key institutions and opportunities that should be open to all. This inequity is perhaps most deeply felt in the region’s imbalanced distribution of resources, limited prospects for employment, and lack of leadership opportunities for women and young people.

Political and economic power has long been built around individuals, families, and networks rather than around public institutions. But to address the region’s challenges, these institutions must become responsive and accountable to all East Africans. For this to happen, civil society and the public must have opportunities to participate in decision making and to work in partnership with government to better their societies. 

Answering inequality with justice

Our work is rooted in the belief that East Africans can realize their own vision of a just, equitable, democratic, and peaceful region. And there is much to build on: Progressive reforms and constitutional democracies have taken root. New laws guarantee civil and human protections. There are fresh opportunities for women and youth to take part in building stronger and more inclusive political, social, and economic systems and in creating new spaces for participation and dialogue. Civil society movements and groups have played significant roles as drivers of this change, bringing the promise of democracy closer to the region than ever before.

But we know that this promise can be fulfilled only when government works to improve the lives of the region’s most disadvantaged people. At all levels, government must serve the broad public interest and ensure that everyone is treated equally under the law. Governments that truly work for the people will expand opportunities for women and youth. They will make sure that all the region’s people have access to sustainable livelihoods and benefit from public and natural resources. And they will work to uphold people’s ability to express themselves freely and reach their full potential. 

Thematic Areas in this Region
  • At the regional, national, and local levels, we support efforts to make civil society organizations stronger and more effective partners with government. We also support efforts to ensure that all people, especially historically disadvantaged populations, can participate in political processes.

  • Our work focuses on supporting innovations that help people develop the skills and business models necessary to help arts and cultural spaces grow and prosper. We also support efforts to give arts and media professionals the tools and training they need to cultivate excellent artistic and journalistic work.

  • We support the development and enforcement of more inclusive public policies and business models. We also invest in strengthening the rights of communities, women, and young people in connection with ownership of, access to, and benefits from land and natural resources. 

  • We support the efforts of governments and learning institutions to deliver education that matches employment opportunities and drives job creation. We also invest in efforts to help young leaders in civil society organizations, at universities, and in tertiary institutions learn and network across sectors and geographies—with the goal of building an ecosystem of young leaders working at all levels of society.

map Eastern Africa
Contact
Ford Foundation
PO Box 41081, 00100
Nairobi, Kenya

Grant makers in Eastern Africa

Senior Program Officer
Nairobi, Kenya
Representative
Nairobi, Kenya
Program Officer
Nairobi, Kenya
Program Officer
Nairobi, Kenya
Program Officer
Nairobi, Kenya

Equals Change Blog

Rosemary, Okello Orlale, New York 2014-2015. Photo Credit: Simon Luethi ©Ford Foundation.

, Program Officer

Protecting Turkana's resources for future generations

Ford partners are working with local communities, the private sector, and government to help residents secure rights over natural resources in the Turkana Basin.

Rosemary, Okello Orlale, New York 2014-2015. Photo Credit: Simon Luethi ©Ford Foundation.

, Program Officer

In rural Kenya, access to information is power

"Radio listening groups" and digital resource centers throughout rural Kenya empower women.