Key messages from the Third Progress Report


While Kenya’s economy is improving, as reflected in the reduction in extreme poverty and improvement in human development indicators, there are disparities among counties. In terms of poverty level, 10 counties risk being left behind including Isiolo, West Pokot, Tana River, Wajir, Marsabit, Garissa, Busia, Samburu, Mandera, and Turkana. Of these, food poverty is highest in Turkana (66.1%), Mandera (61.9%), Samburu (60.1%), Busia (59.5%), West Pokot (57.3%), Marsabit (55.6%) and Tana River (55.4%). Many of the food insecure households live in rural areas, particularly in arid and semi-arid counties in northern Kenya. Women, children, people with disabilities, older persons and the urban poor are likely to be food insecure and to be left behind due to their limited access to resources.

Key populations such as men sex workers, people who use drugs and transgender communities are being left behind in access to basic services such as health as they are criminalised, and face discrimination and stigma. In education, adolescent mothers who are not able to go back to school after giving birth and girls from communities that still practise harmful cultural practices such as child marriage and female genital mutilation are at risk of being left behind.

While efforts to ensure gender equality have moved forward, girls and women with disabilities are likely to be left behind due to discrimination, and limited access to opportunities. Causal workers/labourers are also at risk of being left behind, in part because they are not unionisable, making it difficult for them to bargain for better terms of service/employment. Indigenous and poor communities who depend on aquatic/marine and terrestrial ecosystems for their livelihoods are also at risk of being left behind as degradation of these ecosystems exposes them to the risk of falling deeper into poverty in the absence of alternative livelihoods.


Gender is a crosscutting issue reported under most goals. There are deliberate efforts by CSOs to reduce gender inequality through implementation of specific programmes across different SDGs. Examples of these include provision of education scholarships to young girls (SDG 4); sensitisation on menstrual hygiene management (SDG 6); mapping of multiple forms of sexual harassment in public spaces in urban areas (SDG 11); training women farmers on responsible production and marketing (SDG 12); training women on the use of sustainable cook stoves (SDG 13); and conducting social exclusion and gender analysis (SDG 16). In addition, there are efforts by CSOs to implement measures to uplift female-headed households out of poverty (SDG 1).


Kenyan CSOs contribute directly to the implementation of the SDGs. They provide direct services to vulnerable populations, support skills development through capacity building and training, and provide microfinance services for economic empowerment. CSOs also carry out policy advocacy and awareness creation to support implementation of the SDGs.

To better track implementation of the 2030 Agenda, non-state actors avail data and analytical support to subnational policymakers, other civil society organisations and the academia. Data and data analysis support include tracking the progress of people out of poverty and investment towards pro- poor sectors.


The report finds direct implementation of programmes related to sustainable development and strong partnerships with government, as well as other CSOs as key accomplishments of Kenyan CSOs. It is reported that data and analytical support is appreciated and used by county governments. Examples of impactful collaborations between CSOs and the national and county governments include data and analytical support provided to eight government agencies to inform decision-making processes; technical support to a county government to enact a tobacco control law; support to a county government to develop a Climate Change Bill and policy; and technical support to the national government to ensure inclusive education. Other achievements by CSOs include support to vulnerable communities to access basic services and economic empowerment through measures aimed at creating self-employment opportunities.


Extreme weather events, particularly droughts that are often followed immediately by floods pose a huge risk to achieving the 2030 Agenda. Other identified challenges in implementing SDGs include, inadequate cold and food storage facilities to reduce post-harvest losses, strong patriarchal system which slows progress on eliminating gender inequality and weak coordination among government institutions and among non-state actors in implementation of SDGs. Furthermore, limited financial support is a key challenge. Inadequate core funding hamper operational capacities and limit the scope of the programmes implemented by CSOs, as well as participation of CSOs in various levels of policy dialogues.


Limited availability of disaggregated data and evidence to inform planning in respective goals is identified as a major gap. Inconsistencies among available datasets in different institutions, as well as limited data sharing practices of county governments are also identified as associated gaps. Limited data analysis skills among community-based organisations is another key gap cited in the report.

These can be summarized as:

  1. Issues of inadequate funding to support building programmes (like the Peace Programme within SDG 16 as just one example). This includes co-financing for community-initiated programmes which impedes implementation of social projects that help to reduce inequalities.
  2. The issues of leave no one behind due to geography are still pertinent 7 years into devolution.
  3. Weak environment when it comes to enforcement of legislations and policies that could address discrimination and inequality.
  4. Unemployment and underemployment rates are increasing due to insufficient efforts from the Government and private sector to create jobs for an increasing population.
  5. Access to knowledge and information is still limited 4 years after passage of the ATI act; making it difficult to engage on certain issues that should be addressed.


The 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the associated targets are inherently interlinked. This interlinkage implies potential synergies or trade-offs, as actions taken to achieve a particular goal may be mutually reinforcing or contradictory with the realization of another goal. Understanding the interlinkages among the goals and between the targets is an important step towards ensuring integrated governance and policy coherence in the implementation of SDGs. Accordingly, in this CSO VNR, the contributing organizations reported on the SDG interlinkages. This was important in so far as it provided insights on how achieving one Target was likely to affect positively or negatively achievement of another Target. As Figure 3 below shows that Goal 5 had the most interlinkages.

Figure: Chart outlining interlinkages between SDGs


In almost all Goals, CSOs reported that they require support to improve their participation in SDGs implementation. Financing is the main area where three quarters (75%) of CSOs require support (Figure 4). Inadequate financial resources limit the scope and reach of the programmes being implemented by CSOs to ensure achievement of various SDG Targets. Reporting on SDGs and capacity building on data collection and analysis were reported by 73% and 70% of the CSOs as areas where support is needed to accelerate implementation of SDGs. Just under two thirds (63%) of the CSOs require capacity building to carry out policy analysis and advocacy, while a third of them require capacity building to understand public finance and budgeting cycles to improve their participation in advocacy work aimed at ensuring accountability and adequate resource allocation to SDGs. Other areas where CSO require support include capacity building to conceptualise and domesticate the leave no one behind concept and to design criteria for identifying those who are being left behind.

CSOs highlighted data gaps as a key hindrance to implementation of SDGs. This include inconsistencies in the quality of data that is available to CSOs to conduct research, to design and implement programmes/ interventions and to monitor implementation of SDGs. The common challenges include inadequate disaggregation of data, limited access to data from government institutions, and lack of up-to-date data.

These challenges arise in part due to lack of a coordinated approach for collecting, updating and sharing data among CSOs and between CSOs and the government; the inability of the national statistical system to regularly collect data related to all SDGs and associated Targets; and lack of standards on data collection and adherence to data standards. Moreover, CSOs have inadequate capacity to collect and analyse data to support their contributions to implementation of SDGs. Addressing these gaps calls for strengthening the national statistical system, establishing a framework for data sharing, establishing and monitoring adherence to data quality standards at the national and subnational level.

Figure: Required support areas for CSOs


The report finds strong alignment between the interventions implemented by CSOs under various goals and the key national development plans such as Kenya’s Vision 2030 and the third Medium-Term Plan (MTPIII) for the period 2018-2022. For instance, the capacity building programmes and technical/financial supported provided by CSOs to women, youth and men to start businesses to eradicate poverty are aligned to Vision 2030 and MTPIII.

There is also strong alignment between the inventions implemented by CSOs with sector policies. For instance, advocacy by CSOs to reduce tobacco use supports achievement of the objectives of the Kenya Health Policy 2014-2030 which include reduction of the rising burden of non-communicable diseases caused by risk factors such as tobacco. In addition, efforts aimed at improving access to HIV treatment are aligned to and support achievement of the objectives of Kenya AIDS Strategic Framework and National Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Policy.

In the education sector, programmes such as providing scholarships to vulnerable learners and promoting disability inclusive education are aligned with the objectives of the National Education Sector Plan, Education Act, and Child Protection Act which have been designed to ensure every child realises their right to education. Promoting quality education is also aligned to Vision 2030’s social pillar. Furthermore, advocacy, awareness creation and social support conducted by CSOs to reduce gender-based violence and gender-based disparities are aligned to the objectives of the National Policy on Gender and Development, 2019, National Policy on Prevention and Response to Gender-Based Violence, and Protection Against Domestic Violence Act, 2015. Plans for 2020

In 2020, most CSOs plan to continue implementing most of the activities they implemented in 2019, including advocacy, capacity building/training, providing technical support to national and county governments and conducting research. For instance, the National Taxpayers Association and the International Institute for Legislative Affairs will continue with tobacco tax advocacy; Amref Kenya will continue to support marginalised and less privileged groups to access health services; Islamic Relief Kenya will continue to implement peace programmes.

A number of CSOs that provide direct services to vulnerable groups will be expanding the scope of their programmes to reach more/new beneficiaries in 2020. For instance, MindMe International will establish four more solar powered safe study spaces in informal settlements to reach more beneficiaries; Global Peace Foundation plans to scale up the scope of its programme by reaching 40 schools; and Akili Dada will provide scholarships to 82 young girls in select high schools to access education

CSOs will also be implementing new interventions/ activities in 2020. For instance, Oxfam will conduct three studies on women in political leadership; National Taxpayers Association will to conduct research on how the tobacco industry undermines domestic resource/ revenue mobilisation and the impact of tobacco control in Kenya; and Ageing Concern Foundation will conduct intergenerational dialogues aimed at reducing the widening disconnect between the youth and older persons.

CSOs are also planning to strengthen partnerships among themselves and with the government to accelerate implementation of SDGs. For instance, KWAHO will support WASH sector coordination to improve service; Open Institute plans to engage more partners who are able to adopt the tools and lessons emerging from their work and replicate them in other regions; and PACJA will adopt a consortium approach to SDG implementation. Additionally, SEAF-K and Women’s Empowerment Link will support county governments through training/capacity building.


To allow organisations with ample time to submit as well as validate future reports, it is recommended that CSOs report quarterly to the SDG Forum using a template that is easy to fill. To also assist contributors to report by indicators, the SDG Forum should assign monitoring and evaluation personnel to support CSOs. It is also recommended that the SDG Forum should offer capacity building/training to its constituents on SDGs implementation progress reporting – this is also captured well by CSOs.