The History of CAI
In early 1994 Joseph Kwaka travelled to the then southern Sudan (now the Republic of South Sudan) for the first time, working as Programme Development Officer with Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA). The civil war was raging and the people who braved it not to go into exile lived in dehumanizing conditions. Moved by what he saw, Joseph soon left employment to found a non-governmental organization (NGO) which he named Integrated Programme for Health and Development (IPHD), and registered it with the NGO Coordination Board in Kenya.
Soon after registration, the NGO got funding support from European Union to start the first HIV/AIDS awareness campaign in southern Sudan. The organization later worked in various locations in the region through partnerships and contracts with UNICEF, WFP and other UN agencies.
In 1996 Integrated Programme for Health and Development (IPHD) changed its name to Community Aid International (CAI). We expanded our scope of activities on HIV/AIDS including workplace awareness programme, youth-focused programmes and special programmes for vulnerable groups. With HIV/AIDS and Reproductive Health activities, CAI expanded its geographical coverage, not only in the whole of Western, Coast and Nyanza regions of Kenya, but also to 10 countries in east and central Africa and Rome through partnerships and contracts with UNICEF, WFP and other UN agencies.
We entered the 21st century with expansion into advocacy for gender equality, particularly focusing on women economic empowerment and campaigns for inclusion of women in leadership, decision-making and governance. We extensively worked on these actions for several years with funding support from various partners, including the Netherlands Embassy, Canadian International Development Agency, Care Canada, Scandinavian countries’ basket funds, UN Women, etc.
From 2004, CAI went into poverty reduction and wealth creation activities using microfinance to increase targeted communities’ access to credit and financial services. Within the same poverty reduction strategy, we also implemented special entrepreneurship programmes for young adults – training them in business, giving credit and offering business advisory services to them. We are proud of budding entrepreneurs in those areas – the beneficiaries of a programme supported by the J9 Foundation.
While CAI continued with its activities on HIV/AIDS, Reproductive Health, Women Empowerment and Poverty-Focused Programmes, including running village banks with community groups, the organization adopted advocacy for good (and accountable) leadership and good governance in 2005, with a conviction that these are the key determinants of improved service delivery, enhanced livelihood and accelerated socio-economic development.
In the context of this rights-based approach to development, with support from DFID and CIDA ,CAI introduced the Score Card Project, a nation-wide unique opinion survey project meant to amplify people’s voices on the performance of the government of the day. With this and other related activities, CAI became a leader in social accountability actions in Kenya, also bringing together five other NGOs as a coalition supported by PACT Kenya with USAID funds.
In our continuous quest for effective and innovative interventions, we assembled some of the best Kenyan intellectuals on leadership and governance in 2010 and together authored a book titled: Challenging the Rulers: A Leadership Model for Good Governance.
Today, CAI implements Social Vetting and Social Audit in more than 10 counties as citizen-driven mechanisms for social accountability – especially focusing on advocacy for good leadership and good governance, and active in defending the civic space, with funding support from the Ford Foundation, Uraia Trust, and others.
CAI has therefore evolved and developed into an organization that works with Practical-Needs Approach, and, Rights-Based Approach to human development as mutually inclusive strategies.