In November of 2007 East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, carried out a capacity building training for HRDs in Kenya, with the aim to reduce their vulnerability to the risk of persecution and to enhance their capacity for self-protection. One of the outcome of the convening was the need to create a viable national coalition of HRDs in Kenya that would strengthen the voice of individual HRDs and provide protection in situations of immediate threat.
The meeting resulted in a Memorandum of Understanding for the formation of The National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders and an action plan for the subsequent years. Between 2007 and 2011, the NCHRD-K was housed by the Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU), and the Kenya Human Rights Commission, both of which greatly contributed to its growth. Rights Promotion and Protection Centre, formerly Release Political Prisoners (RPP) implemented a public awareness project of the NCHRD-K in 2010-1.
In February 2011, a national meeting was convened to take stock of developments made since 2007 and further strategize for the future. The conference brought together seventy-six (76) participants, more than half of which were HRDs representing various counties in Kenya, in addition to representatives from other human rights organizations, organisations working for the protection of HRDs, foreign embassies and funding partners. Delegates identified the challenges facing NCHRD-K and developed a plan of action aimed at putting in place relevant structures, programmes and resources needed for an effective implementation of NCHRD-K’s mandate on the short and long term. The need to institutionalise the organization was key among priorities established. A technical committee was formed to oversee the transitioning into a fully functional Secretariat The NCHRD-K was officially launched on 30th March 2012 by H.E. Ann Dismorr, the then Swedish Ambassador. Two staff (Executive Coordinator and Protection Officer) were recruited by the board of Trustees to offer protection support for HRDs and engage in fund-raising to implement emerging programmes, which included protection, training and advocacy.