History of RODI Kenya

From its humble beginnings as a Community Based Organization (CBO) in 1989 in Kapenguria Division of West Pokot, Kenya; the Resources Oriented Development Initiatives (RODI) Kenya has had major milestones to be the well-established organization it is today.
In 1989, the organization, founded by Mr. Eliud Kihoro Ngunjiri, was initially called Organic Farming Outreach Programme (OFOP). The organization was run by Mr. Erastus Maina Ngunjiri, the Program Coordinator, who received support to work in OFOP from Mr. Ngunjiri up to 1991. Mr. Maina had received his training in Bio-Intensive Agriculture at Manor House Agricultural Training Centre, Kitale.
1986. The long journey of Resources oriented Development Initiatives (RODI) started in late 1986 when Eliud Ngunjiri, then Programme Officer with Oxfam GB attended the first Organic Farming workshop in Kenya, organized by Catholic Diocese of Nakuru at Baraka Agricultural College with support of Misereor. The workshop provided Eliud with an answer to a problem he was grappling with, enhancing food production among poor small scale farmers who could not afford modern agriculture inputs.
1987. It was as a result of getting an alternative way of reaching out to poor farming communities that Mr. Ngunjiri sent Erastus Maina to study Bio-intensive Agriculture at Manor House Agricultural Centre, Kitale in 1987. He also embarked on a programme of placing students from the same college to Oxfam funded CBOs and NGOs to spread the idea of low cost sustainable agriculture.
1989. After leaving college Erastus began a voluntary initiative of reaching out to small scale farmers who could not afford the expensive conventional agriculture inputs and therefore skipped by mainstream extension service providers was started in West Pokot district. It was known as the Organic Farming Outreach Programme (OFOP). OFOP was registered with the ministry of Culture and Social Services. The Ministry of Agriculture saw the gap OFOP was filling and the impact it had on poor small scale farmers and agreed to a request of allowing the initiative to be piggy-backed on its work. Erastus started getting motorbike lifts from the ministry of Agriculture staff to run OFOP activities alongside theirs both at the agricultural demonstration plots at ministry headquarters, at the showground and to the community.
1993. OFOP received its first external financial support from UNDP Africa 2000 Network to promote organic farming with Erastus as the first Coordinator. OFOP’s collaboration with the ministry of Agriculture became even stronger to the extent of seconding 2 staff to OFOP.
1993. OFOP relocated to Nyahururu at the height of politically instigated tribal clashes; once again the organization registered as a CBO with the ministry of Culture and Social Services.
1993. Oxfam organized an international water workshop in Kisumu; and participants wanted to see a water gravity intake which happened to be in Kisumu Prison. It is during this visit that Mr. Ngunjiri noted that in spite of having a lot of human, land and water resources Kisumu prison was not self-sufficient in food. The excuse given was lack of conventional agriculture inputs in the name of industrial fertilizer, chemicals for disease and pest control.
OFOP promised to provide an alternative way of farming- Low Cost Sustainable Agriculture. Permission was sought and granted by the Commissioner of Prisons to work in all prisons in Kenya. Prisons were then a no-go zone and therefore it was not that easy. OFOP hired Dan Otieno and Gladys Bosire as the first volunteers and based them in Kisumu.
This marked the beginning OFOP’s work with prisoners; the purpose then was to help Kisumu prison to produce enough food using organic farming skills. No sooner did this start than a more pressing objective of repeat offending due to a number of obvious reasons including rejection by the community was noted. OFOP decided to put more emphasis in breaking the cycle of poverty, crime and re-offending and eventually making it its mission.
1993. The first Prison Officers workshop was held in Kisumu at the Tom Mboya Labor Hall with the Commissioner of Prisons being represented by the Provincial Prisons Commander, Western Province.
1994. OFOP registered in Kisumu as a Community based Organization with Chris Ngatia, Jane Mwangi and Eliud Ngunjiri as the Chief Officers. OFOP got a grant from Oxfam GB to run prisoner rehabilitation activities in Kisumu Annex and Kisumu Women prisons.
1995. OFOP received funding from UNDP Africa 2000 ended 1995 marking the end of the farmer outreach activities in Nyahururu. The same year saw extension of prisoner rehabilitation activities to Kakamega Men and Women prisons, Shikusa prison and Shikusa Borstal Institution as well as Kibos prison.
1997. Kapsabet Men and Women, Eldoret Men and Women, Ngeria Farm prison were brought on board.
1998. Eliud resigned from Oxfam to join OFOP on full-time basis as its Executive Director. The organization opened its office in Nairobi on Ngong Road. At this time, the organization had 6 members of staff under the leadership of Victor Karanja as the Coordinator.
1999. The organization was officially registered as an NGO and changed the name from OFOP to RODI in keeping with its philosophy of identifying and mobilizing local resources using the Resources Oriented Development Approach (RODA).
In the same year RODI received its 1st funding from Tudor Trust.
RODI also relocated to Ruiru and began work with Ruiru, Thika Men and Women, Kamiti and Kiambu prisons.
In the same year a two year capacity building programme funded and run by Transform International to build the capacity of 2 Oxfam GB partners; RODI was one of them.
2000. Introduction of the Open Door policy courtesy of the then Commissioner of Prisons. Mr. Ibrahim Kamakil was initiated. This created more space to carry out RODI’s work including freedom to talk openly about RODIs’ work, outside prison.
2001. GLS Trusteeship gave RODI the first grant and has maintained partnership that cofunds PREP to date.
2003. This saw the inception of the Prisoner AIDS and Counseling Project, initially without funding but later with support from Action Aid.
2003. The Schools Organic Agriculture Programme (SOAP) whose aim is to nurture a culture of sustainable agriculture and to reduce the influx of young offenders into prison was started through local resource mobilization and later got support from Tudor Trust. This scaled up the project to eventually cover 18 schools including special ones: for juveniles and for children with physical disabilities. Drug and substance abuse, HIV&AIDS were also included in the SOAP.
2004. RODI organized an international workshop called Restorative Justice: Good Prisoner Rehabilitation Practice. The workshop brought together senior prison officers and NGO representatives from six African countries: Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, South Africa, and Cameroon. Other visitors came from the UK. The workshop came up with the Nairobi Declaration which endorsed RODI’s Restorative Prisoner Rehabilitation Approach that targets the offender, the community and as much as possible the victim.
2005. In the same year, the Executive Director, together with a colleague and senior officers from the Prisons Headquarters visited Uganda for a week and were hosted by the Commissioner General of prisons to share RODI’s work with them as a follow up of the international workshop. Another follow up visit saw Eliud 5 prisons in Malawi and the Malawian prison authorities expressed interest to adopt the concept of restorative prisoner rehabilitation.
2005. RODI started Table Banking and started working with community groups formed around ex-prisoners with initial support of start-up kit from GLS
2005 and 2007. RODI got registered as a Company Limited by Guarantee and Charity respectively.
2006 RODI extended its Prisoner Rehabilitation work to Nyeri prisons.
2005 – 2006 RODI’s Campaign and Advocacy activities in the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA)’s were funded by Oxfam.
2007 RODI made its first major external evaluation in November, evaluating all of RODI’s activities.
2006 – 2007 RODI rolled out the PREP activities to include Nairobi West, Jamhuri and Athi River prisons. RODI entered into partnership with Kenyatta University for its students to train HIV in prisons.
RODI, as a member of KBioC, was actively involved in an anti GMO campaign.
2008-2013 RODI developed the first Strategic Plan
RODI became a member of Regional Schools and Colleges Permaculture Programme (ReSCOPE) with the Executive Director appointed as a Vice-Chairman. John Macharia got an opportunity to train in ILUD in Zimbabwe. RODI is the lead organization of ReSCOPE in Kenya.
The organization entered into partnerships with organizations such as KANCO, Reach the Children, NACADA, Probation Department, Children Department.
The Table Banking project was started to help community groups pool funds and borrow from the same on a monthly basis. Currently RODI gives top up money to groups to enable members to borrow bigger loans with support of GLS Trusteeship.
2010. RODI received funding from AusAID to implement a one year Natural Resource Management, Hygiene Water and Sanitation project within 12 community groups under PREP and 12 schools under SOAP in four provinces: Central, Nyanza, Western and Rift valley. The project aim was to improve the water and sanitation conditions, natural resource management and access to safe drinking water in the schools and community.
2010. RODI got funding from DFID through Interact Worldwide to implement a Rights Based HIV AIDS prevention project in Kenyan prisons. The project runs from September 2010 to August 2014. It aims to improve the sexual reproductive health rights of prisoners and ex-prisoners, the prison community and their families in relation to HIV and related vulnerabilities, access to appropriate care and impact mitigation and to improve living condition and quality of life in prisons. The project covers 27 prisons in Kenya.
2012. RODI received a second phase funding from AusAID which ran from June 2011 to June 2012 reaching 13 more community groups under PREP and 14 schools under SOAP in four provinces: Central, Nyanza, Western and Rift valley.
2012. In the same year RODI expanded its target to include pretrial detainees and crime prevention. This was made possible by support from Foundation for Open Society Initiative (FOSI) and Open society Initiative for Eastern Africa (OSIEA). In addition to building the capacity of pretrial detainees to enable them to understand their legal rights and court procedures, the project has a component of crime prevention which consists of building the capacity of local leaders, probation officers, and police for the purpose of reducing crime. The crime reduction component also incorporates the youth and school going children. The project was initially in Muranga, Nyeri and Kakamega but a second grant of 2013 enabled RODI to extend it to cover Naivasha, Voi and Makueni.
2013. RODI started an engagement with Bread for the World and participated in the workshops developed by Bread for the World. Prisoner Rehabilitation work was expanded to Uganda in the same year.
By 2013, RODI had worked with 35 prisons, 52 schools and over 65 community groups within 7 regions in Kenya, Central, Nairobi, Rift Valley, Eastern, Coast, Nyanza, and Western. We have increased the number of prisons, schools and have also included refugee camps in Kenya like Kakuma.
2014. RODI got funds to do the food security baseline within the communities we were working with given by Bread for the World. RODI started the development of the RODI Training and Conference Centre by setting up a demonstration farm.
2014 – 2019 RODI reviewed the first Strategic Plan
2015. RODI received funds from Tudor Trust to build the conference facility and the administration block.
2015 – 2016 In collaboration with the Legal Resources Foundation and NCAJ, RODI conducted the first criminal justice audit of the Kenyan justice system at the conditions of detention and cash flow management. This audit was launched in 2017 after the formation of the NCAJ Committee on Criminal Justice Reform with RODI becoming a member of the committee.
2016. RODI received the first grant from Bread for the World.
2017. RODI received funding from GLS to build the RODI conference center and the cafeteria
2018. The Pre-trial Detainees Justice and Life Skills Project ended after it was started in 2012.
2018. RODI got accreditation with NITA to offer vocational courses in hygiene and sanitation, agro-process, and digital literacy.
2018. RODI launched the Centre for Holistic Education and Agroecology (CHEA)
2019. RODI received funding from Global Fund for Community Foundation (GFCF) through AMREF to conduct TB Screening at Police Stations. RODI also received funding from OSF to do Local Resource Mobilization. RODI also received funding from the Ethical Tea Partnership.
2019. RODI Kenya started moving its office from the RODI office at the Ruiru Catholic Church to the RODI Training and Conference Centre.
2020. RODI expanded its work to reach out to Turkana County targeting Prisons, schools, refugees and host communities.
2020. Started collaboration with Mott Foundation through LRF to support Access to Justice Project in Nairobi County
2020-2024. RODI’s third phase of its Strategic Plan
2021. RODI started the ECOSIA and PELCA projects with funding from GLS and Tudor Trust respectively.
2021. RODI started the development of Plot B in Ruiru.
On 9th March 2021, Mr. Eliud Kihoro Ngunjiri passed on and was buried at the RODI Centre. He was honored by the RODI Board as a Founder. In his memory, a mausoleum will be constructed, where his philosophy, values and vision will be shared for posterity. RODI Kenya, as an organization, lives on to carry out his vision and mission. Esther Bett took over as Executive Director with David Nyaga as her deputy.
2022. Global Fund for Community Foundation (GFCF) provided support to RODI’s Local Resource Mobilization Project
2022. RODI expanded the KIC TB screening project to Nairobi County