The University of Washington (UW) has been conducting research and training in Kenya for nearly 30 years. UW faculty, staff and students have worked closely with Kenyan colleagues and institutions to further public health and medical improvements in Kenya through the integration of research, education and service. Over time, the UW’s activities in Kenya have grown in size and complexity. Millions of U.S. federal and non-federal research dollars awarded to the UW run complex research studies that require a multitude of processes including purchasing equipment and supplies, and hiring staff. UW central administration encouraged leadership in the Department of Global Health to establish a legal UW presence in Kenya that would ensure compliance with UW, State, Federal and Kenyan law. To achieve this goal, the UW central administration, the Department of Global Health, and Kenyan colleagues combined efforts to establish an NGO, known as UW-Kenya, to serve as a legal representation of the UW’s activities.
With its establishment in July 2011, UW-Kenya began working closely with the UW’s central and departmental administrators, UW faculty, and Kenyan colleagues to “roll in” existing projects under its administrative umbrella. In addition to legal compliance, an enormous amount of work is involved in administering field studies in a resource-limited setting. UW-Kenya supports Project Offices with centralized accounting, procurement, human resources and asset management and tracking. UW-Kenya also provides periodic training for Project Office staff on financial management and internal controls.
In 2014, UW-Kenya set up a recharge center to allocate its costs to projects in direct proportion to their usage of UW-Kenya services. With the recharge center, UW-Kenya can support any UW project, regardless of the PI’s home department.
The main objectives of UW-Kenya are:
- To ensure UW’s research and training activities in Kenya operate in compliance with UW regulations, and State, Federal and Kenyan law.
- To strengthen and support Project Offices to standardize operations policies and procedures to be able to maintain an efficient and compliant computerized financial management system with frequent review of internal processes, fiscal monitoring and external auditing.
- To transfer ownership of assets held in Kenya from individuals to UW-Kenya.
- To temporarily hire project personnel in accordance with Kenyan law until a Kenyan partner institution can facilitate their hire through a subcontract.
- To maintain a revolving field advance fund routed to UW-Kenya bank accounts thus avoiding the need for UW faculty and staff to have personal field advances for project activities.
- To facilitate applying for work permits for UW-Kenya personnel working in Kenya.
- To assist in any legal matters through the legal counsel at UW and their appointed fee-based legal counsel in Kenya that arise for the various projects being conducted in Kenya.