Alt text for imagePublic Sector Reform

Background to the UNDP work in Democratic Governance

Democratic Governance is central to the work of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Kenya given the national focus on governance reforms. UNDP’s work in the governance sector is aimed at building institutions and processes that are more responsive to the needs of citizens especially the poor and marginalized, and that ensure fidelity to the rule of law.  UNDP supports the country’s efforts towards achieving the Vision 2030 Political Pillar, which envisions a democratic system that is issue-based, people-centered, results-oriented and accountable to the public. This political pillar gears to transform the country’s political governance across five strategic areas; The Rule of Law, Electoral and Political Processes, Democracy and Public Service Delivery, Transparency and Accountability, Security Peace Building and Conflict Management. UNDP is working with stakeholders towards the realisation of the governance reform aspirations under each of these strategic areas. These strategic areas are anchored in the Constitution, promulgated in August 2010 marking a major milestone in the democratic journey of Kenya and set a new threshold in terms of people-centered development.

Scope of Activities

The government-led devolution process provides a unique entry point for UNDP to coordinate targeted efforts on lagging Millennium Development Goals. This will help deliver on the analytical work done through the MDG Acceleration Framework and invites a substantively coherent United Nations response (through ‘Delivering as one’), thereby promoting an issue-based approach as called for under the UNDP Strategic Plan. As such, the implementation of an area-based development approach will become the norm. As part of the ‘One United Nations Devolution Strategy’, UNDP will target selected counties according to criteria established by the Government in its 2013 county profiles and related County Deprivation Index.

Lessons from these selected counties will be replicated and scaled up through the national budget allocation to county governments.

UNDP’s Country Programme Document (CPD)

Fostering Democratic Governance is a key pillar under the framework of UNDP Kenya’s Country Programme Document 2014-2018).  UNDP’s engagement in democratic governance and the formulation of various programmes and projects is as a result of a process of broad consultations with stakeholders including the Government, civil society organisations, independent bodies, development partners and other UN agencies. Our programmes are demand-driven and developed to respond to national priorities as identified under Kenya’s development blueprint the Vision 2030 and the priorities identified under the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation Agreement (KNDR) as Agenda 4 priorities, and the Constitution. The principles of national ownership and leadership remain central to UNDP’s programming in Kenya in contributing to achieving sustainable human development. The Millennium Declaration presented the need to strengthen democratic governance as an important requirement to meeting set targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and indeed democratic governance remains central to the work of UNDP in Kenya. The programmatic focus for UNDP’s work in democratic governance include support for electoral reforms and processes, strengthening civil society organizations, civic education, implementation of the constitution, public sector reforms, devolution, human rights and access to justice, gender equality and empowerment, and anti-corruption, ethic and integrity.




CPD Outcome 1: Devolution and Accountability-By 2017, Kenya enjoys a participatory devolution process that is well understood by stakeholders, adequately coordinated and equitably resourced for the delivery of accessible and quality services; devolved institutions are legally, financially and technically empowered, well managed, effective, accountable; and resource management is transparent, equitable, effective and efficient at all levels.


  • Increased and equitable access to services by citizens as 69.7% of Kenyans feel that with devolution, service delivery is better than before. (Infotrak Survey, April 2015)

  • Increased level of confidence in delivery of public services since Kenyans still remain hopeful on the implementation and success of devolution with an approval rating of 78% (Ipsos Synovate, April 2015)

  • Improved ability of County Governments to establish performance management systems and accountability mechanisms in the utilization of public resources and improve on public service delivery.

  • Increased oversight role by constitutional commissions and independent bodies by providing policy guidance and informing the citizenry of the status of implementation of devolved governance system.


    Output 1: Devolution and Legal and Institutional Reforms

  • 13 County Governments can now  implement their CIDPs and provide services to the people through proper budget execution

  • One new legislation on legal aid developed by the National Government and three bills on health, persons with disabilities and youth employment reviewed;
  • Kenya made submissions to the Universal Periodic Review (2015) and prepared country reports on the CEDAW;
  • The IEBC Elections Operational Plan (EoP) 2015-2017 and its Strategic Plan 2015-2020;
  • The Judiciary  developed policy and guidelines on the administration of Bail and Bond;

Output 2: Citizens’ Participation

  • CSOs actively participated and engaged in the review of the proposed amendments to the PBO Act 2013 and demanded for inclusive planning and budgeting and accountability of resources at national and county levels;

  • CSOs contributed to the strengthening of the policy framework for the fight against corruption and submitted 11 recommendations to the Attorney General’s Task Force to review the legal, policy and institutional framework for fighting corruption in Kenya;

  • CSOs contributed to development of a legal framework on the enforcement and monitoring of ECOSOC rights at both national and county levels

Output 3: HIV and AIDS

The Govt adopted, disseminated the Kenya AIDS Strategic Framework (KASF) (2014/2015-2018/2019), marking a change in approach in managing the national response from only focusing on biomedical & behavioral interventions to structural interventions as well as evidence & results-based programming;

The Govt launched the Kenya HIV Situation Room & developed the National HIV Stigma & Discrimination Index to track progress & identify gaps in Kenya’s HIV programming & inform the delivery of the KASF’s objective on HIV related stigma and discrimination;

The HIV & AIDS Tribunal disseminated its Strategic Plan in high burdened counties;

Capacities of key stakeholders (County officials, CUCs, Judiciary & PLHIV ) in 5 high burdened counties strengthened on the linkages between  SGBV, HIV, Human Rights & the law


Devolution and Accountability - Key Results

  • County curricula on leadership and management, human resources, performance management, county planning and results based M&E developed launched.

  • County level compliance with established budget ceilings for the 2014/2015 financial improved.

  • Package of proposed reform of the electoral legal framework developed and submitted to parliament. 

  • Compliance with Constitution implementation milestones (4th and 5th year legal & policy reform milestones) sustained. 

  • Oversight of alignment of prescribed polices with constitutional provisions sustained as per the 5th Schedule of the Constitution;

  • Kenya reviewed by the United Nations Human Rights Council as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR);

  • Bail and bond policy and guidelines developed and gazetted;

  • Public participation in county governance (County Integrated Development Plan development and County Budgeting) initiated.

  • Generation of strategic information to inform advancement of devolution and accountability.

  • Capacities of key stakeholders (Court user committees, county officials, Judiciary, law enforcement, Human Rights Institutions & PLHIV) in four counties strengthened on the linkages between SGBV, HIV, Human Rights and the law.

Devolution and Accountability Challenges

  • Most Kenyans have limited knowledge of devolution, yet with very high expectations on the promise of devolution.

  • Public participation (Guiding framework) currently not available leaving it to different interpretation as to what constitutes effective engagement of the public in governance in the context of devolution.

  • Heightened instances of insecurity and conflict particularly in the arid and semi-arid regions has hampered programmes in the sector and remote programming/monitoring is being explored as an alternative.

  • Delays in passing a number of legislation within constitutionally provided timelines could affect general progress towards Constitution implementation and the already established pace of legal reform.

  • Coordination capacity constraints at national and devolved systems including institutional conflicts that have emerged both at national and county government level could affect effective public service delivery at both levels.

  • Evidence based planning at the county level still requires continued support.

  • There has been slow pace in complete and comprehensive unbundling of functions, expected to bring clarity on what each function entails and form a basis for transferring functions especially the concurrent functions.

  • Policies (National Human Rights Policy, National Legal Aid Policy, others) central to realization of the Bill of Rights provisions are yet to be fully operationalized.

Devolution and Accountability current priorities

  • Extensive roll out of county focussed capacity development interventions.

  • Completion of development of a national devolution policy.

  • Enactment of revised legislation related to electoral management way in advance of elections.

  • Completion of research on studies to inform advancement of devolution. 

  • Deepened institutional capacity development (IEBC, CoG, IBEC, Judiciary, CAJ, NGEC, KNCHR, OAJ&DOJ and NACC).

  • Contribute to multi-stakeholder and institutional conversations that advance consensus on realization of National values and principles of governance in public service administration and public service delivery.

  • Technical assistance to the National Council on the Administration of Justice (NCAJ) secretariat to strengthen its functions as provided for in the Judicial Service Act.

  • Enhanced civic engagement and participation in county level planning and budgeting (Women, Youth and marginalized persons).

  • Deepen exploration of programming opportunities that target the youth to address youth marginalization and the nexus to crime and terrorism.

  • Strengthen public dialogue and citizens’ action on integrity issues (As per Chapter 6 of the Constitution) at national and county level.

  • Making operational constitutional provisions related to realization of economic, social and cultural rights.

  • Strengthen CSO engagement in shaping the policy direction related to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and Legal Aid provision.

  • Capacity development and Legal Literacy for Networks of People Living with HIV. 

  • Roll out and dissemination of the HIV & AIDS Equality Tribunal to four counties.

  • Support to roll out of the high level HIV ant-stigma and discrimination campaign. 

  • Completion of development of Manual on Human Rights & HIV.




UNDP works on both the demand and supply side of governance. UNDP’s partners include:  Ministry of Devolution and Planning, Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC),  Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), Commission for Implementation of the Constitution (CIC), Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board,  Commission for the Administration of Justice and the Gender Commission, Amkeni waKenya and its various civil society partners and NCEP/Uraia Trust.

UNDP works with several bilateral and multilateral partners. They include: Sweden, Norway, UK, USAID, Netherlands, Finland, Canada, Japan and Denmark.


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