CGD was conceived in 1992 and born in 1993 out of the realization by leading reformists that the re-introduction of multi-party politics though a huge step in the political reform process, was not sufficient for the entrenchment of democratic governance. This came in the wake of the flawed multi-party general elections of 1992, which brought to the fore the absence of a democratic culture, and weak governance institutions as the principal obstacles to the realization of democracy and respect for human rights. CGD's programmes were thus designed to grapple with these obstacles by:-
Strengthening of Parliament to empower it to effectively check on the excesses of the executive and process the needs of society into appropriate policy and legislation;
Providing civic education to awaken the people to the challenges, opportunities, responsibilities and rewards of a democratic dispensation;
Enhancing the effective participation of women in politics and development by advocating for gender equality and equity;
In March 2003, CGD decided to reposition itself through a five year strategic plan in light of new and emerging socio-economic and political realities in the country. It therefore organized its work around three inter-related programmes; Representative Institutions Programme, Economic Governance Programme and Citizen's Participation and Advocacy Programme. Through these programmes, CGD identifies legislative, policy and institutional reform issues, and designs appropriate activities through implementing different projects.
Its programme objectives are to:-
Enhance the capacity of representative institutions for effective and participatory governance
Facilitate the adoption and implementation of the new constitution through creation of public awareness and understanding of it provisions and institutions.
Empower economic groups/producers to effectively advocate for appropriate policies to govern their economic activities.
Promote accountability, transparency and participation in the management of public affairs.
Develop the organization's capacity and institutionalize its work.
The Centre works with representative and participatory institutions and organizations including parliament, parliamentary committees, government departments, local authorities, community based organizations, and other civil society organizations.
- The establishment and running of the Elections Observation Group (ELOG).
- CGD through ELOG successfully undertook long-term monitoring and observation of the August 2010 referendum and the March 2013 general elections using a number of tools and strategies among them parallel vote tabulation (PVT).
- Over the two observations, CGD through ELOG gave independent verdicts that moderated wild claims and counter-claims of rigging by competing political camps, thereby contributing to peace.
- CGD through ELOG contributed to the development and enactment of the Political Parties Act 2011, the Elections Act 2011, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Act 2011, and the Election Campaign Financing Act 2013.
The provision of a link between citizens and public service providers, through NTA, by establishing channels i.e. call centers and citizen report cards for public service providers to respond to the needs of citizens.
- The establishment and running of the Coalition for Accountable Political Financing (CAPF), which documented and exposed campaign financing malpractices by candidates and political parties during the 2007 general elections, and contributed to the development and enactment of the Political Parties Act 2007;
- The establishment and running of the National Taxpayers Association (NTA), which has contributed to the promotion of transparency and accountability, and efficiency and effectiveness, in the delivery of public services and the management of devolved funds through research, preparation, publication and dissemination of high profile citizen report cards.
The affiliation of the six agricultural sub-sector coalitions into the Kenya Producers Coalition (KEPCO) which has contributed to the empowerment of small scale producers to engage and challenge policy, legal and km .institutional structures for positive governance reforms