Their work has been challenged by “fake news” since the violence erupted, where people are falsely reporting in certain areas that there is violence, without verification, said Secretary General Dr. Abbas Gullet in a press conference Monday.
The national hub plan has the capacity to handle localized displacement in the short term, but would need more resources if more serious tensions escalated, said Neil Turner, Kenya country director of the Norwegian Refugee Council. “The hub system works fine, theoretically, but it’s only as strong as the resources behind it.“
An estimated 180,000 security forces were also deployed across the country, tasked with maintaining “law and order and the protection of life even during the election period,” according to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. This was part of the electoral commission’s Election Security Arrangement Project.
Kenya National Commission on Human Rights issued a statement on Saturday appealing to the inspector general of police and the attorney general and cabinet secretaries to “ask the officer in charge of operations to direct their officers stop the use of live ammunition against citizens.” The organization also reported on allegations of police forcefully entering homes, beating people up, threatening with rape and demanding money.
Closing the gaps
There is a country director’s forum of international NGOs in Kenya. That forum made a subcommittee for election planning. In the final months before the election, agencies involved in that subcommittee aimed to get a better sense of how the election could unfold.
In July, ActionAid, Islamic Relief, Trócaire and World Vision International — members of the Start Network, an international network of NGOs — applied to use the network’s new Analysis for Action grant, to conduct an interagency context analysis focused on the election. The organizations leveraged financing from the Start Network’s Start Fund, which is the first multidonor pool of funding mechanism that allows NGOs to access funding in advance of a crisis.
The NGOs also used a tool created by World Vision International, called the Good Enough Context Analysis for Rapid Response, to determine which of the eight humanitarian hubs did not have enough resources. Gathering information from conversations with over 300 community members, in a two-week timespan, the organizations identified hotspots that weren’t adequately covered. The analysis found some gaps in coverage in the national plan, where certain regions of the country were under-resourced. The Start Network took this information and triggered an “anticipation alert,” which released about $390,000 for agencies for preparations that would mitigate harm and loss related to violence before and after the elections.
The Good Enough Context Analysis for Rapid Response produced four possible scenarios and triggers as possible outcomes for the 2017 elections. This included a postelection period with no violence, sporadic violence, violence similar to the levels in 2007/2008, and an all-out civil war.
Some of the likely triggers included the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission not delivering results transparently, said Bijay Kumar, executive director of ActionAid Kenya. Another included a supreme court ruling on the election results that would not be accepted by the losing party.
In anticipation of these scenarios and in attempts to prevent them, organizations, through the existing hub system, and with these funds, set up safe spaces in advance, prepositioned some supplies in areas deemed likely to be cut off, and worked with faith leaders to promote dialogue and peace, according to Sarah Klassen, crisis anticipation officer at the Start Network.
This plan focused on six of the 18 identified hotspot regions, linking them with 11 agencies. These areas were picked because of a lack of capacity, funding gaps in areas and a pre-existing NGO presence.
The chosen counties include Baringo, Garissa, Isiolo, Meru, Mandera, Marsabit, and Nakuru. The responsibility of responding to violence in these areas was divided by NGOs. This includes ACTED, ActionAid Kenya, Action Against Hunger, Concern Worldwide, Doctors of the World, Norwegian Refugee Council, Christian Aid, Dorcas Aid International, World Vision, Trócaire and Handicap International.
In Garissa county, for example, there were protests over the results of a governor race. ActionAid Kenya, which is the co-lead for the hub, activated a “soft response” by working with religious leaders in the area to promote peace, said Kumar.
The Norwegian Refugee Council expanded programming in an area where it already had a presence. The 2013 election saw interethnic violence and displacement in the Wajir and Mandera counties. Since then, NRC has been working with those who were displaced.
NRC is now the co-lead for the Mandera county hub, where it is prepared to provide services that include potential WASH and sanitation response, cash programing and work described around legal protection, information counseling and legal assistance. The most likely scenario in Mandera county is friction and fighting between some of the clans, leading to localized displacement, said Turner. The potential response is aimed at some 60,000 individuals. This plan has not yet been activated, but the organization is keeping an eye on developments.
The Start Network’s Start Fund plan is short term, with funds expiring at the beginning of September, but it is aimed at encouraging other donors to jump in if long-term funding is needed, said Klassen. She described the strategy of acting early as an important change of mindset for the humanitarian sector. The funding aims to mitigate harm and loss, including through targeted risk reduction and prepositioning of supplies based on an assessment of a forecasted risk. The Kenyan election is one of nine “anticipation windows” that have been funded by the Start Network.
“We’ve seen kind of a shift in culture of NGOs who might wait until something really develops and escalates before they apply for funding and we see that their appetite for risk and to analyse the situation and act proactively is really increasing,” she told Devex. “From our perspective that’s really encouraging.”
Tensions moving forward
Despite the pockets of violence so far, overall, calm has prevailed. Humanitarians say that they are still concerned that further violence could erupt, based on the political process moving forward.
Observers have encouraged the opposition coalition, the National Super Alliance, or NASA, to pursue its objection to the results through legal means. After losing by a small margin in 2013, Odinga unsuccessfully challenged the election results at the supreme court, alleging vote-tampering. Many Kenyans have lost faith in the independence of the judicial system, however, making a legal challenge of the results a less appealing process, said Maurice Amollo, head of Mercy Corps’ Kenyan Election Violence Prevention program.
“Nobody believes that the court can do much, but even more importantly is that the politicians have been really attacking the judiciary, including demanding that some judges should not be part of the bench that will hear certain cases,” he said. “It’s a mess.”
Ali Noor, a resident of Kibera and former candidate for member of parliament, thinks tensions could persist through the swearing-in of the next president.
“I think it will depend on the party leadership for NASA, if they come out and say ‘guys let’s accept and move on,’ it will stop immediately. But if they say ‘we have to get people power out in the streets, we have to voice our contempt, our dissatisfaction with the announcements,’ then it could go for quite some time,” he said. “It depends completely on their next moves.”
*Source DEVEX.Sara Jerving is Devex’s East Africa correspondent, based in Nairobi