The Kenyan government has issued a new directive warning all charity and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Kenya against employing foreign aid workers…or risk losing their licenses.
Speaking to the BBC Tuesday, a Kenyan official said foreigners should not be allowed to work in the country when there are Kenyans who qualify for the jobs; in fact, outside hires should only happen in exceptional cases.
Kenya’s Non-Governmental Organizations Coordination Board has also accused some NGOs of employing foreign aid workers without proper work permits.
The organization insists that NGOs should only hire foreigners when there are no locals with the required skills. And even if there are no locals available, they should be trained to replace foreigners.
According to the board, most foreign aid workers in Kenya earn four times more than the locals for performing the same duties.
Attempts to Control Kenyan NGOs
Over the years, the Kenyan government has been at odds with NGOs in the country for its attempts to regulate their operations and funding.
In 2013, former President Mwai Kibaki enforced the Public Benefits Organizations Act (PBO), which was intended to regulate the operations of civil society and NGOs in the country.
The current government attempted to amend the PBO Act just a few months after entering office in order to restrict external funding of human rights and non-governmental organizations.
But the attempt was met with stiff resistance as local NGOs and civil society organizations took to the streets, accusing the government of undermining civil society.
In 2015, the Kenyan government embarked on a mission to clamp down on a number of local NGOs because they believed some are supporting terrorism in the country.
For example, bank accounts of two NGOs, MUHURI and HAKI Africa, were frozen on suspicion that they were being used by terrorists to finance terror activities in Kenya.
Human Rights Watch (HRW), though, says these laws are aimed at undermining freedom of expression and association in Kenya.
Therefore, HRW is calling on Kenyan leaders to ensure that these NGO bills do not become laws and instead focus on the country’s main challenges, including police reforms and accountability.