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Background

The Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa (OSIEA) works through two strategic priority areas critical to addressing open society challenges in the region: 1) participation of citizens and 2) human rights.

A “constitutional moment” is sweeping Eastern Africa. Ongoing constitutional review and implementation processes in Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan, and South Sudan offer an opportunity to debate and institutionalize the values that underpin an open society. The engagement of citizens as active participants can build national ownership to advocate for and uphold a system to prevent arbitrary government and guarantee rights.

The constitutional reform processes offer possibilities to strengthen the framework of legislative representation, to establish stronger ground rules for elections and to foster greater political participation, particularly by marginalized groups. Ensuring that all persons count equally is an important part of OSIEA’s mandate. OSIEA supports victims and marginalized communities, including persons with disabilities, to organize and demand for equality and justice through law reform, documentation, advocacy, and skill-building.

Denial of access to public information is a serious obstacle for citizens to demand access to rights, resources, and opportunities. OSIEA supports the adoption of freedom of information laws and efforts to compel the release of public information through strategic litigation and budget monitoring efforts at the community level, with a focus on health care policy and natural resource governance.