PROTECT: Building a free, open, and inclusive Kenya – together

Three people sitting down and having a discussion - Using data to inform service delivery in health centres - TEMA app - PROTECT - free open inclusive Kenya

We all want a world where we can express ourselves freely, participate in society safely, and access the information we need to make decisions about our lives.

In Kenya, the Constitution guarantees these rights to all citizens. But in practice, a complex set of challenges has prevented us from fully enjoying our rights. 

Complex challenges require holistic solutions. That’s why the PROTECT coalition – a diverse group of activists, journalists, NGOs, lawyers, thinkers, dreamers, and doers – came together to build a free, open, and inclusive Kenya. 

PROTECT’s achievements so far have been remarkable: from an app that makes health services more accountable to patients to media houses adopting policies that protect journalists from sexual harassment to community radio stations becoming editorially independent from their owners. 

Our results to date are impressive – but with your help, we could do so much more. 

Support us to create a free, open, and inclusive Kenya. 


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Key challenges in Kenya

Worldwide, as ARTICLE 19’s Global Expression Report shows, the space for people to question and hold their governments accountable when they fail is shrinking every day. Kenya is no exception.

The key challenges that prevent Kenyans from freely, safely, and fully expressing themselves and participating in society include:

  • Abusing weak laws: The government in Kenya abuses weak laws, including colonial-era laws that were explicitly designed to stop people from questioning the authorities.
  • Police brutality: 1 in 3 Kenyans have experienced police abuse or harassment, and officers who are violent towards the people are rarely held accountable, leading to high impunity and little chance of justice for victims of police violence.
  • Targeting journalists and human rights defenders: The government targets the very people who monitor their performance and report back to the people, including through deliberate smear campaigns to undermine our trust in them.
  • Stigmatising marginalised groups: Politicians and the media spread damaging narratives that stigmatise women, ethnic minorities, young people, LGBTQI+ people, and other marginalised groups.
  • Withholding public information: Despite having a legal obligation to do so, the authorities often do not release public records and information, which makes it difficult for us to hold our government accountable.

Holistic solutions

Complex challenges call for holistic solutions. Problems with deep roots and long histories can only be resolved with deep thinking – and deep collaboration. And multiple barriers cannot be torn down by a few individuals or a single organisation alone.  

In other words, it’s only by joining forces and developing long-term solutions that we can make our communities and societies stronger.   

It’s just like if we want to get fit and stay healthy. Exercise is essential to achieving these goals. But exercise alone is not enough. We also – and simultaneously – need to eat right and sleep well.

Similarly, if we want to express ourselves freely, participate in society safely, and make informed decisions about our lives, laws that guarantee our rights are essential. But laws alone are not enough. We also – and simultaneously – need other solutions, like:

  • leaders in government who deliver on their promises
  • a reliable internet connection so we can seek, share, and receive information
  • independent media to provide us with accurate, high-quality news 
  • measures to ensure everyone – rich or poor, men or women, straight or gay – can equally participate in society

And designing such solutions is exactly what PROTECT set out to do.


What is PROTECT?

PROTECT (Protecting Rights, Openness and Transparency Enhancing Civic Transformation) is a coalition of organisations that, since 2019, has joined forces to pursue our common vision: a free, open, and inclusive Kenya. 

To achieve this vision, PROTECT empowers civil society organisations, human rights defenders, and journalists to hold the government accountable and build an independent democratic society.

Who are PROTECT’s partners? 

The PROTECT consortium is made up of ARTICLE 19, Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries (HIVOS), International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL), and Internews.

PROTECT collaborates with the following local project-implementing partners in Kisumu, Mombasa, and Nairobi:

  • Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK)
  • Civic Freedom Forum
  • Community Initiative Action Group–Kenya Trust (CIAG Kenya)
  • Community radio stations, including Equator FM, Lulu FM, Mtaani Radio, Pamoja FM, Pearl Radio, Radio Lake Victoria, Radio Rahma, Tumain FM, and Sky FM
  • Kenya Female Advisory Organization (KEFEADO)
  • Kenya Media Sector Working Group
  • Local Empowerment for Good Governance (LENGGO)
  • Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI)
  • Mzalendo Trust
  • Raia TV
  • Transform Empowerment for Action Initiative (TEAM)

PROTECT also works with state actors (Kisumu and Mombasa county governments, the police, the Government Advertising Agency, and others) to achieve our goals.

United in our conviction that we are stronger together, we combine our diverse range of expertise – in freedom of assembly, association, and expression; access to information and data transparency; media sustainability; and protection – to address Kenya’s diverse challenges.

What areas does PROTECT work on?

PROTECT designs and implements holistic solutions across 5 mutually reinforcing areas:

1. Reforming and strengthening our laws so that they reflect our goals and aspirations.

2. Making sure journalists and human rights defenders are safe so they can work without fear.

3. Helping the media be more financially sustainable so everyone can access high-quality, independent information.

4. Fighting the stigmatisation of journalists, women, ethnic minorities, young people, LGBTQI+ people, and other marginalised groups so that everyone has a fair chance to participate in society.

5. Demanding better public data and information to improve transparency and accountability. 

Explore our impact

The power of participation: Uniting residents and government officials

From improving local service delivery to co-creating a public participation policy, PROTECT has made significant inroads to ensuring people in Kisumu County enjoy their right to public participation. 

Read the case study

Going upstream: A holistic approach to sexual harassment against journalists

From supporting victims to developing a policy that 5 media houses have adopted, PROTECT has spearheaded a holistic, long-term approach to tackling sexual harassment against journalists.

Read the case study

Of, by, and for the community: Unleashing the potential of local radio

From enabling more people to access reliable information to improving the business viability of community radio stations, PROTECT has invested in media freedom in a long-neglected community.

Read the case study

PROTECT has spearheaded holistic solutions to Kenya’s complex challenges.

Our results to date are impressive – but with your help, we could do so much more. 

Support us to create a free, open, and inclusive Kenya. 


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