Dec 13, 2016

In accordance with its mandate and based on the parameters set by a DPA led Needs Assessment Mission (NAM), UNDP provides electoral support to UN Member States, such as Kenya. UNDP has over the years performed this role within the framework of the Note of Guidance defining UN Role in Electoral Assistance (2001) as revised. This Note of Guidance requires UN Member States to request the UN election support via the national agencies including the Electoral Commission. UNDP Kenya has successfully provided electoral technical assistance and other development support to Kenya for over three electoral cycles[1] since 2007. This technical assistance and development support has been premised on, inter alias, the Guidance Note, Kenya’s External Resources Policy, the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) for Kenya and the wider UN values and principles of integrity, inclusiveness and impartiality.

Following request by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for the UN to support Kenyan’s 2017 elections, the UN conducted an electoral needs assessment in 2014 which served as the guide for the type and nature of UN electoral support which normally rendered through a basket fund managed by UNDP. Subsequently, UNDP developed a 24m USD election support project titled Strengthening Electoral Processes in Kenya (SEPK) in 2014 for implementation from 2015 – 2018. The SEPK Project Document was approved and signed by the Government (led by the National Treasury) and UNDP on 7th July 2015. This Project Document was the product of extensive consultation with various stakeholders and was shared with various Government Ministries.

The SEPK aims at strengthening key institutions of democracy (mainly the IEBC, Office of the Registrar of Political Parties (ORPP), the National Police Service (NPS), Judiciary, media and civil society organisations) in Kenya to promote transparent, credible, peaceful elections. The project is co-implemented by UNDP and UN Women and lead partners with funding from a number of development partners.

The project uses the electoral cycle approach – i.e. supporting elections, not as an event but as process involving years of preparations and also post-election activities including reform.

The UNDP project has the following as its key outputs:

  1. Improving the legal framework for elections;

  2. Strengthening electoral institutions, systems and processes;

  3. Promoting trust and public participation in the electoral process; and

  4. Promoting electoral justice and mitigating election-related conflict.

    Areas of UNDP’s support to the Kenyan electoral process include:

  • Communications, Warehousing and Logistics, Procurement and Institutional Capacity Building.  These four areas were identified in the post-2013 election evaluation as some of the weakest links in IEBC performance during those elections.

  • Support to amend laws on elections, political parties, election campaign financing, two-third gender rule, etc.;
  • Build capacity for efficient use of ICT in elections;
  • Support to voter registration and electoral operations; - UNDP supported the IEBC’s Mass Voter Registration (MVR) exercise in mid-2016 by facilitating the payment of  additional 3,000 personnel to help roll-out the MVR across the country;
  • Improve IEBC business processes including production of policies on gender and social inclusion, ICT, stakeholder engagement, communications and media engagement, logistics and warehousing, procurement and risk management;
  • Support civic and voter education and stakeholder engagement with emphasis of women, youth and people living with disabilities.
  • Support national efforts to promote electoral justice and mitigate conflict.

In conclusion:

UNDP has supported elections in Kenya since the mid-2000s and has worked with the Independent Review Commission (IREC), and more specifically with Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) and Independent Boundaries and Electoral Commission (IEBC) to deliver the 2010 Referendum and the 2013 elections, respectively.

Guided by its mandate and principles and values including impartiality, UNDP is focused on supporting Kenya to achieve credible, peaceful, free and fair elections. The current UNDP technical and financial support to elections in Kenya is aimed at helping the country better prepare for the general elections of 8 August 2017.  This support will build onto the previous support on the electoral reforms in Kenya and is part of the long term governance reforms in Kenya.  UNDP is committed to ensure that this support contributes to the strengthened national capacity and ownership of the electoral process, and that the Independent Boundaries and Electoral Commission can deliver to Kenyans  free, fair, peaceful and credible elections

[1] 2007 – 2008 (the Elections Assistance Programme); 2009-2013 (Support to Electoral Reforms and Electoral Process in Kenya) and now 2015 – 2018 (Strengthening Electoral Processes in Kenya).