The Director of KWS, as the Chief Executive representing the Board of Trustees, is primarily responsible for communicating the board’s vision to the entire organization and developing strategies to implement the policies it approves. Several specialized entitles that deal with issues relating to communications, donor relations and development of special projects are also clustered under the umbrella of the Director’s Office.
Both international communications within KWS and outreach to the wider public-including the media – in Kenya and abroad are Corporate Communications’ concerns.
One of Corporate Communications’ major tasks in 1996 was to communicate KWS’s new mission and the details of regionalization, decentralization and retrenchment to all employees. Beginning in April, a series of “road shows”, which took the director and members of the Change Management Team all over the country, initially reached at least 80% of KWS’s nearly 4,000 employees. A weekly in-house publication, Restructuring Update, launched in September, has continued to address staff concerns and attempted to minimize anxiety.
Corporate Communications also had the task of coordinating this year’s Fiftieth Anniversary celebrations, officially launched in August when President Moi opened the new KWS headquarters. “Dances in Harmony”, performed by members of the Royal Ballet in Nairobi and at Kimana Community Wildlife Sanctuary, highlighted the anniversary theme, PARKS BEYOND PARKS. A special exhibit about conservation and parks in Kenya was prepared for the headquarters Open House week beginning 16 December, and the celebration will continue with additional events throughout 1997.
Corporate Communications has adopted a proactive strategy for dealing with Kenya’s media image. The staff’s daily monitoring of media coverage has confirmed that KWS’s reputation is often needlessly sullied due to careless reporting or misinformation, with negative effects on prospective donors as well as tourists. In addition, KWS has recognized that proper public positioning can greatly facilitate partnership formation. As a first step, KWS has retained Raitt Ors & Associates, a leading public relations firm in London, to promote Kenya’s parks and ecosystems and monitor press coverage in Europe. A similar arrangement with a Washington DC, PR firm is also under consideration. To improve communications with individual members of the media, Corporate Communications launched a series of quarterly lunch meetings with the director and country’s top editors, journalists and foreign bureau chiefs. The aim is to enable them to get to know KWS and its goals and address any problems they may have in obtaining accurate information.
The number of KWS internal publications has mushroomed, and Corporate Communications anticipates that the regional offices will frequently request assistance with brochures, newsletters and other materials. To ensure professional production of these and other publications, Corporate Communications began interviewing prospective personnel for a desktop publishing unit.
Corporate Communications is well aware that the KWS staff is its most important public. Much work has gone into the planning of culture change activities for 1997. The KWS family can look forward to a wide array of activities including field trips, lunch-hour nature videos and interdepartmental lunches.
DONOR LIAISON OFFICE
The Donor Liaison Office was established in 1995 to coordinate and negotiate KWS external funding and ensure efficient and effective implementation of donor-funded projects in line with KWS policies and donor requirements. In practical terms, this means ensuring that KWS programmes comply with donor conditions and follow specified procedures for disbursement of funds.
The Donor Liaison Office also solicits multilateral donor funds through the Kenya government, conveys donor concerns to KWS, monitors projects to ensure that funds are spent as intended, solicits, additional funds when necessary, works with project co-ordinators to ensure that financial reports are provided in a timely fashion, organizes inspection tours of projects for donors and performs any function that will help streamline KWS-donor interaction.
Donors conducted a mid-term review of the PAWS Project in October, and the Donor-Liaison Office co-ordinated production of the 1996-97 place. Success completion of the donor review mission paved the way for the possibility of extending and reallocating IDA credit and the development of PAWS II.
Other major DLO accomplishments during 1996 including obtaining KFW’s agreement to commence disbursement of promised funds and working with the European Union and ODA to ensure adequate funding for the restructuring and retrenchment programme, including the services of the Change Management Facilitator seconded from Price Waterhouse. The Donor Liaison Office is in the process of securing funds for the Tourism Department’s activities and related infrastructure projects.
The Director’s Office currently has four special projects on its slate: the Nairobi Safari Walk, Sebastian’s Lecture Theatre, the Nairobi National Park Conference Centre and the Amboseli Ecosystem Project.
The need to upgrade the Nairobi Animal Orphanage, the most visited wildlife facility in Kenya and one that is especially popular with schoolchildren, has been discussed at KWS and, before that, within the WCMD. KWS made the decision to convert the zoo-like orphanage, which eventually came to host many non Kenyan species, into the Nairobi Safari Walk, a state-of-the art wildlife display incorporating three Kenyan ecosystems, in 1995. The new US$ 3-million facility, a reflection of KWS’s goals of biodiversity, partnerships and sustainable nature tourism in miniature, will become the centrepiece of KWS’s efforts to cultivate a new generation of Kenyan conservationists.
The Wildlife Conservation Society (New York) donated its services to design the Safari Walk project. The last year saw the establishment of a steering committee for the Safari Walk drawn from numerous KWS departments; its subcommittees also include members of the local conservation-NGO and education communities. A feasibility study was completed, and designs were submitted by the consulting architects, M/s Symbion International. The goal is to open the facility by March 1998.
Construction, consisting mostly of landscaping and funded by an initial grant of Kshs 65 million from the World Bank, is projected to begin in April 1997. Fundraising for the balance of the Kshs 200 million required for construction and capacity building will target the local business community.
Sebastian, a dearly loved old chimpanzee donated to the Animal Orphanage in the late 1950s, was to have a special exhibit in the Nairobi Safari Walk highlighting KWS’s involvement in regional conservation, exemplified by the group of refugee chimpanzees from Burundi that has found a sanctuary at Sweetwaters Tented Camp. When Sebastian died in July, KWS sought a way to honour his memory and decided on construction of a 300-seat lecture hall overlooking the Safari Walk. The Kshs 200-million project is in the early planning stages, and design and fundraising are expected to begin early in 1997.
A feasibility study for the redesign of the Director’s Guest House in Nairobi National Park as a conference centre is planned for January 1997. The proposed conference centre, estimated to cost Kshs, 50 million, will fill a gap in existing facilities, which are inadequate for holding organization-wide is expected to sharply reduce the amounts currently spent on accommodations and travel for such meetings.
The Amboseli Ecosystem Project, likewise, is just getting off the ground. Development of the pilot project, which will demonstrate the full integration of KWS’s biodiversity, partnership and sustainable nature tourism goals at ecosystem level, will take place in the first half of 1997. KWS is seeking funding on the order of US$ 500,000.