Presentation Made to B. A. in Criminal Justice Class in U. S. I. U by the Executive Director, RODI-Kenya on 11th November 2013

Introduction

Resources Oriented Development Initiatives (RODI) is a Kenyan development organisation registered as an NGO in 1999 with the NGO Coordination Bureau. The name comes from one of RODI’s approaches to development, the Resources Oriented Development Approach (RODA). In order to increase international linking, networking and resource mobilization opportunities, the organization was registered as a charity in the UK in 2007.

For a long time we wondered why poverty continues to increase in spite of all the methods, approaches, tools, efforts and resources that are applied to eradicate it. Instead of going down, poverty continues to increase unabated. We found out that the approaches commonly used end up helping people to mainly identify their problems; very little effort is used to help them identify and mobilise the resources they are endowed with.

Mission

RODI’s mission is to break the cycle of poverty, crime and re-offending in Kenya and the East African region. To pursue this mission and to sharpen our poverty focus RODI provides skills training in various areas to inmates, ex-inmates, school pupils and their home communities. To work with target groups RODI uses various approaches such as Restorative Prisoner Rehabilitation, which targets the offender, the community and as much as possible the victim.

The skills provided are meant to enhance inmates’ self esteem, help inmates regain hope in life, provide means for self support, appease the community and to enable inmates contribute towards community and national development. Inmates are encouraged and supported to pass on the skills provided by RODI to their home communities and as much as possible form community groups. This arrangement enhances reintegration besides reducing poverty, crime and re-offending. Ex-inmates are followed up in order to give them additional training and backstopping and to work with them and their home communities.

Background information

The work of RODI is largely informed by the following concerns:

  • High level of poverty and the wide gap between the rich and the poor and how poverty pushes people into crime especially in a country where poor people’s survival and coping mechanisms are criminalised.
  • High unemployment rate.
  • High rate of crime in the country.
  • High rate of drug and substance abuse.

Our effort to find out why this is the case brought us to the following:

  • Conventional Approach to development is wanting –the Problems Oriented Development Approach.
  • Our education system, although it is quite competitive, performs poorly in enhancing self-employment and self-reliance.
  • Agriculture is not given the attention it deserves. Kenya is a leading producer of a number of cash crops such as tea, coffee, horticulture, cut flowers, macadamia nuts, coffee, etc., yet it is a net importer of its virtually all its staple foods – maize, rice, wheat, sugar and others.
  • The way offenders are rehabilitated inside and outside prison is not effective in bringing down crime and re-offending. 400,000 prisoners are released every year and given that many are hardened not to mention stigmatised, it is not surprising that the rate of re-offending is quite high.
  • Crime is wide spread and it affects all Kenyans, yet dealing with it is left to very few government departments such as the police and the chiefs.
  • Crime emanates from the community; the same community is the one affected by the crime yet there is no community based ways of preventing crime.

Our Development Approaches

Each one of the following approaches has its benefits and advantages.

  • The Resources Oriented Development Approach (RODA)
  • School-based Development Approach
  • Restorative Prisoner Rehabilitation Approach
  • Peer Education Approach
  • Care-givers agents’ Approach
  • Group-based Approach
  • Community Based Development Approach
  • Mobilise Organise, Inform and Link (MOIL)
  • Community Based Crime Prevention Approach

Programmes

  • Prisoner Rehabilitation Programme (PREP)*
  • School Based Crime Prevention and Life skills (SCLP)*
  • Pretrial Detainees & Crime Prevention Project
  • HIV Prevention and Impact Mitigation in Kenyan Prisons
  • Table Banking

*These two programmes have since been merged into one project known as  Sustainable Agriculture for Food Security and Crime Prevention (SAFSCP)

Target Groups and training

Our target groups are pupils, prisoners, ex-prisoners and their home communities. Prisoners and pupils are trained to be peer educators while in their institutions and community educators thereafter. We train them in among other things – agro-processing and value addition, making soaps and detergents, motorbike repair, eco-construction and income generation. The skills are supposed to enable trainees to produce for domestic use, for sale and to become trainers their own right.

Coverage
RODI works with 35 prisons, 52 primary schools and over 60 Community Livelihood Improvement Groups (CLIGs)  in seven regions/provinces.