The Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa promotes public participation in democratic governance, the rule of law, and respect for human rights by awarding grants, developing programs, and bringing together diverse civil society leaders and groups. Based in Nairobi, with an office in Uganda, the initiative supports work in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Sudan as well as regional organizations whose mandate encompasses eastern Africa.
The initiative's work takes place in a region where democratic gains are simultaneously being made and reversed. In this context, the initiative's key goal is to amplify the voices of Eastern Africans to call for accountability from their governments. The initiative supports local and regional groups working to advance democratic governance and public accountability, challenge corruption, strengthen free media, and end stigma and abuse directed at marginalized groups, such as ethnic minorities, people affected by HIV, sexual minorities, and drug users.
In addition to working with a wide variety of national civil society groups, the initiative pursues projects to promote greater civil society interaction with African Union programs, such as the New Partnership for Africa's Development. To support ongoing international justice investigations in Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, and Uganda, the initiative works to increase awareness and information about international criminal justice in east Africa.
Activities and projects recently supported by the Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa include a four-year program to track implementation of Kenya's mediation accord following the post-election violence of 2008, empowering community groups to monitor the use of public funds, promoting the passage and implementation of freedom of information laws in the region, protecting human rights defenders under threat, and promoting human rights in health care policy. In oil-rich countries like Sudan and Uganda, the initiative has focused on helping environmental governance groups participate in policymaking regarding government management and use of oil and other natural resources.