Ford Foundation Working with Visionaries on the Frontlines of Social Change Worldwide

Eastern Africa

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The foundation marks 50 years of working on the frontlines of social change in Eastern Africa. Our work is rooted in the belief that East Africans can realize their own vision of a just, equitable, democratic and peaceful region.

The Regional Context

For more than two decades, progressive reforms have swept throughout Eastern Africa. Constitutional democracies have taken root. New laws now guarantee civil and human protections. State institutions and civil society are becoming stronger. Civil society movements and groups have played significant roles as drivers of this change, bringing the full promise of democracy closer to the region than it has ever been. But progress is tenuous, and challenges remain.

Millions of people are excluded from key institutions and opportunities that should be open to all. A high rate of population growth, along with weak governance and economic infrastructure, leave youth marginalized and excluded from leadership opportunities and meaningful participation in the region's economy.

Our Goal

The goal of our work is to advance reforms in land, livelihoods, rights, media and civic participation, particularly for women and youth.

We know that the promise of democracy can be fulfilled only if all people have the ability to participate fully in their society. Ane we believe that addressing disparities in land control and decision-making processes, and in the representation of historically diverse communities, will be critical to securing rights and opportunities for all.

What We're Doing

Our Nairobi office serves three countries—Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania—with the majority of grants distributed to projects in Kenya and Uganda.

Our grant making focuses on breaking down barriers that prevent many East Africans—particularly women and youth—from acting as engaged citizens and contributing to the region's future.

We seek to give voice to those on the margins so that they can act as change agents on their own behalf. We strive to transform key institutions and social structures that perpetuate inequality and exclusion so that all people have access to opportunity.

In particular, we support organizations across Eastern Africa that:

  • Help poor farmers gain access to markets and enable communities dependent on natural resources to become recognized stewards of their lands, so they can expand their livelihoods and build assets
  • Empower women—who dominate much of the agricultural sector but whose access to land, markets and other resources remains limited—so they can play a role in advancing progress in the region as a whole
  • Promote gender equality and human rights so that all East Africans can contribute to, and benefit from, society's social and economic development

Our grant making in this region is pursued through the following initiatives.

Issue Initiative
Democratic and Accountable Government
Gender, Sexuality and Reproductive Justice
Economic Fairness
Sustainable Development
Freedom of Expression

From the Library

  • Eastern Africa brochureFord Foundation Eastern Africa The foundation's Eastern Africa office marked 50 years of building more democratic, peaceful and equitable societies and improving the socioeconomic and political well-being of the region's people. Today, we continue to support efforts to build a more democratic environment as well as to advance women's rights and reproductive health, agriculture-based rural development, and free expression. 1 MB

Regional Office



  • Maurice Makoloo
  • Monica Aleman Cunningham
  • Rosemary Okello Orlale
  • Margaret A. Rugadya
  • Ivan Tumuhimbise


Ford Foundation
P.O. Box 41081, 00100
Nairobi, Kenya
(+254) 20-2710444
(+254) 734534489
(+254) 720950190

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