KANCO IN BRIEF
KANCO is a membership organization established in the early 1990s in Kenya with operations in the eastern Africa region. Its membership comprises of Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Community Based Organizations (CBOs), and Faith Based Organizations (FBOs), Private Sector actors, Research and Learning Institutions that have a focus on health advocacy and or implementing health programes.
KANCO has a strong presence both at the national, regional and global levels. This has been made possible by strong membership at the national level as well as building strong and lasting partnerships with regional and international organizations.
KANCO has a membership of over 1200 organisations and numerous individuals that are networking, collaborating and are bound together by a common vision of an HIV, AIDS ,TB and other public health issues of importance in Kenya.
Formed with a principle to support members to respond to the HIV & AIDS epidemic in line with the existing government co-ordination mechanism for HIV & AIDS and TB activities, KANCO has evolved to become a premier agency for sensitizing, mobilizing and promoting collaboration among civil society organisations (CSOs) working to mitigate HIV & AIDS and TB and their impacts in Kenya.
In 2009, KANCO was accredited as a linking organisation for the International HIV and AIDS Alliance (IHAA) in Kenya. IHAA works globally to support communities around the world to reduce the spread of HIV and to meet the challenges of AIDS and related health issues. As a linking organisation for IHAA, KANCO supports joint action on HIV & AIDS and TB at the community level and commits to developing mechanisms to help CSOs work together to achieve the shared goals.
The origins of KANCO can be traced to a group of seven health and development NGOs and religious organizations that began meeting in 1989 to discuss the growing impact that HIV/AIDS was having on development in Kenya. According to Elly Odoul, the first Chairperson of KANCO, “We needed to step-up our responses to AIDS and meeting as a group helped us share ideas on how to do so effectively.”
The intention to establish a formal network of civil society organizations was put forth in 1990. Several meetings were held that year to produce an outline of what the Network could be for its members and how it should operate. KANCO did not register itself as a non-profit organization with the Government of Kenya until 1997, but it began its operations as a network of organizational and individual members during 1991, when its first Advisory Board was elected by its members.
In the early years of its operations, KANCO concentrated most of its efforts in responding to the manifest needs of members for information that would help them develop and implement their programs. This included, but was limited to, high-quality HIV and AIDS-related information, education, and communication (IEC) materials, as well as technical documents on policy and/or program issues.
Funds to establish the KANCO Resource Centre were provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through Family Health International (FHI) in 1994. This support enabled KANCO to respond effectively to the information needs of both members and the public alike.
By the mid-1990s, KANCO members began to discuss the role that civil society organizations could play in policy development with respect to HIV and AIDS issues at the national level. These discussions helped clarify what members felt they needed to and could achieve in this area, and the KANCO secretariat was asked to secure funding to effect the network’s policy and advocacy objectives.
Funding for what is now known as the “KANCO Policy Project” was secured in 1995. By 1996, KANCO members and the Secretariat were involved in policy development and lobbying activities that culminated in the adoption of the Sessional Paper No. 4 of 1997. The Sessional Paper was adopted by the Cabinet and Parliament and is, effectively, Kenya’s national policy on HIV and AIDS.
In addition to information sharing, policy development, and advocacy, a major emphasis of KANCO’s work has been in the area of training. Every year from its inception, KANCO has promoted training opportunities to members and has organized numerous workshops to build their technical skills in diverse programmatic areas including, but not limited to, home-based care, counselling, advocacy, resource centre management, and networking.
KANCO’s Founding Members
- Action Aid
- African Medical Research Foundation
- Christian Health Association of Kenya
- Family Planning Association of Kenya
- Kenya Catholic Secretariat
- Kenya Red Cross
- Norwegian Church AID