Who We Are2019-03-11T06:47:29+00:00

Ujamaa Center

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.

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About Us

Ujamaa began its work in January 2001 but got its official registration in September of the same year.  The genesis of Ujamaa Center lay in the restlessness borne out of the moment of need and opportunity in Kenya that needed an organized response as the ballast of cooperation activity continued to fall from precipice to precipice.  Kenya has and continues to undergo great change in perspective.  For over 40 years the Coast of Kenya has been a contested region politically and economically; it is a region where the struggle between the exploiters and exploited shows its ugliest face as outsiders continue to dominate the economy. This is made more complex by the fact that Kenya continues to be a country in which the relationship between the state and the citizens is sometimes one of complimentarity or competition, of mutual help or mutual hindrance and of divergence or convergence.

Over the past eight years, Ujamaa Center, has worked with peoples and communities in the coast to enhance popular participation in socio-economic and social justice processes; community based decision-making and governance; and efficient and sustainable use of natural resources. The Ujamaa Philosophy of the founding president of Tanzania substantially inspires Ujamaa’s work and essentially the philosophy is primarily about building social capital as opposed to capital accumulation. Ujamaa Center therefore responds directly to the continuing exploitation and exclusion of the poor. The Center examines the inefficient and unsustainable exploitation of assets that should properly be owned and controlled by indigenous peoples and addresses both the symptoms and the root causes. In addressing the root causes Ujamaa has developed over the years an analysis of the problem and crafted a theory of change with which to confront the problem. The prescriptions by the Center weave the rights framework beyond civil rights. The emphasis of linking issues of social justice, peace and security with community based economic empowerment is one that has afforded Ujamaa Center critical acclaim from fellow NGOs and communities


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Eunice Adhiambo
Eunice AdhiamboDirector
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TONY STARKMonitoring Officer
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ANNA SMITHProject Manager
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Ujamaa Values

The mission of the Ujamaa is to be the ultimate center for the study of the practice of Alternative Systems in Kenya. In doing this, the center aims to promote policies, laws and institutions that empower communities in Kenya and East Africa to effectively participate in natural resource management for improved livelihoods.   In the pursuit of its mission and for the realization of this vision, the work of the Center revolves around policy research, advocacy and networking on environment, peace, security, development, public accountability and natural resources.   These activities are informed by the following two strategic objectives:

  • To support basic community efforts in order to build a self-sustaining alternative sector in Kenya and raise the competence of community institutions and their representatives at all levels in policy formulation processes.
  • To conduct, co-ordinate or commission research on civic rights of communities, alternative systems and spirituality. And to establish a permanent structure in Kenya which shall devote its efforts to the development and growth of alternative systems, spirituality and building social and community capital.

Our goal is to challenge, through organised social action the entrenched systemic exploitation of local communities and the entrenched social inequities in rural and urban Kenya to which there is growing awareness. Ujamaa’s strategy is to implement vibrant programs that will effect the greatest change in the lives of communities and their organisations in Kenya. The Center places emphasis on facilitating relationships, which capitalise on the use of alternative systems and spirituality in order to build social and community capital. The first phase of this effort was based in the Coast province in Kenya but the learning experience from this pilot phase is being replicated in other parts of the country starting with Western Kenya.

Our approach is to make the voices from the micro sphere reach the macro policy-making world through mobilizing and organizing opinion against the dominant corporate-led economic framework that mostly works against the interests of the poor. The Center implements a capacity building programme whose aims to build awareness and strengthen local village leadership around the common cause of a new resource exploitation framework. This process has seen the emergence of networks led by committed local men and women who can now articulate the aspirations of the deprived and the dispossessed and offer a united voice to the fragmented struggle for livelihood rights, land redistribution, access to forestland and implementation of social legislation at state level in order to effect long term change.

We believe that…

…if we raise the socio-political consciousness of individuals and the grassroots communities through training, skill enhancement, accompaniment and solidarity, we enhance the individuals and communities’ commitment to transcend psychological  oppression/dependency and support their resolve to take proactive action to transform their lives, communities and governance systems.

…when we support entrepreneurship and mobilization of local resources, we restore individual and community pride and dignity thus enhancing the capacity for homegrown solutions to problems and challenges.

…when we model a lifestyle and organizational culture that encourages critical attitude, spirituality, respect for religious affiliations/backgrounds and ideological orientation, gender equality, and commitment to reflection and social action, we enhance the transformation of ourselves, constituency communities, partner organizations, funding partners and above all, the global unequal  relationships, into more just and egalitarian relationships.

…when we constantly critique the dominant structures and systems and tax our imagination to evolve alternative structures and systems we connect to, and mobilize a critical mass to believe that an alternative world is possible and locally act towards a world where just and egalitarian relationships and systems are envisaged.

…when we root our work with the culture and political reality of the people then genuine political and social transformation can take place particularly when indigenous resources and youth creativity are tapped to respond to context specific problems and challenges including localized global conflicts.

To achieve these aspirations Ujamaa;

  • works through community mobilisers recruited from and based in communities;
  • challenges the political construction that emerged from Europe and was grafted on the rest of the world by post independence leaders;
  • conducts research to give new meaning to ecology, politics, knowledge and democracy that can help in re-making the world;
  • interrogates the tendency by the government to regard national parks, reserves, wetlands and un-alienated rangeland as their exclusive property that they can dispose of without regard to the public interest and rights of long established users and occupiers
  • campaigns for society to retain overriding powers to ensure that those who own land use it properly and sustainably so that needs not just of present but future generations are taken care of;
  • revisits  demands – just trade, recompense and reparations, enough food, free democratic elections, literacy – which barely 40 years ago were obvious to freedom fighters, but must today be long-windedly explained, justified and defended.
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