Merti Integrated Development Programme (MIDP) was formed when Action Aid Kenya (AAK) the only active NGO in Merti phased out in the year 2000. It got registered as an umbrella CBO with the ministry of culture and social services. Its mandate was to coordinate self-improvement actions by various community-based groups in Merti initially supported by AAK. It inherited assets of AAK Merti Development area including land, buildings and office equipment and two years funding for skeleton staff and office operation. As part of its growth plan MIDP was registered as a national NGO in 2003 with NGO coordination bureau with a mandate to operate in Merti and Garbatulla districts.
Transformation from a CBO to a local NGO enabled MIDP to earn more recognition, expand its scope geographically and programmatically and opportunity to attract funding from diverse donors. As part of growth-related challenges, MIDP experienced its first major threat when some of its board members and staff supported by political leaders attempted to close it down in 2004. Its independence and potential to raise development funds for poverty reduction was seen as a threat by political leaders. It survived the early scare due to a favorable court ruling and has since maintained its independence and impartiality and entered into partnership with various funding agencies. The International Institute of rural reconstruction (IIRR) was the first international NGO to enter into partnership with MIDP in 2005 to implement pastoralist education programme using mobile school model. Cordaid came on board to support drought emergency interventions the same year. The Cordaid partnership has since grown into long term multi-year funding with institutional strengthening components.
With support from Cordaid, MIDP undertook organizational self assessment and used the outcome to guide its growth as a development and humanitarian agency. It developed its first strategic plan in 2008 covering the period 2008-2012. Under its first strategic plan MIDP implemented programmes in the following sectors; Water and sanitation, livelihood support and diversification, lobby and advocacy and institutional strengthening. Gender, HIV and AIDS, environment and conflict management were identified as cross cutting themes in all programmes.
The organization registered tremendous achievements during the 2008-2012 period. On institutional development front it was able to attract and retain competent local professionals to run its programmes, purchased a 4WD land cruiser, several motor cycles, recruited community based facilitators, revised its constitution and developed operational manuals and policies in human resource, financial management and girl child policies. It was able to implement projects under water and sanitation, livelihood support and diversification, lobby and advocacy and education. Major achievements during the period are construction of an office and store for rangeland users association, launching of Iresaboru water projects and opening of merti maarifa centre, registration of three mobile schools with ministry of education and expansion of MoV girls’ sponsorships to cover university and tertiary education. In the same period MIDP received funding from UNOCHA for 2011 drought emergency and early recovery in 2013, DRR and resilience funding from Cordaid under partners for resilience (PfR) and linked community groups in Sericho and Merti to climate change funding through Resource advocacy programme (RAP).
During 2008-2013 periods, which coincided with constitutional and electoral boundaries review processes MIDP mobilized the communities to present their views to various commissions. It also invested in developing capacity of local CBO leaders on lobby and advocacy and this translated into various community led campaigns key among which are demonstration against highway banditry in 2011/12, protection of chari rangeland and the climate change camel caravan of 2013. The recent award of uraia funding to MIDP is clear indicator of its track record in advocacy work in Isiolo County.
Since formation MIDP has encountered the following key challenges ; high demand for services from target communities, vastness of the operation areas and poor transport and communication network, limited technical capacity of board members which affects fundraising and oversight roles and political interference. The same challenges are anticipated in the coming years and hence need to use past lessons to deal with them.