UN Volunteers help secure peaceful elections in Kenya
Castro Baraza sits in his office at the Kisumu County Headquarters finalizing his reporting on peace building activities organized in the county ahead of the 8 August 2017 general elections. It has been three weeks since the elections were held, and Kisumu remains peaceful with businesses fully operational and the new County administration already taking charge. Castro is however still hard at work, ensuring the peace dividends are maintained and the development agenda in the region is realized.
Castro is one of the 16 UN Volunteers deployed across the country earlier in the year as part of ongoing support to a programme on Strengthening National Capacities for Conflict Prevention by UNDP.
"My responsibility is to support the development of a robust peace infrastructure in the Nyanza region of Kenya. Working closely with the County administration, particularly the County Commissioner for Kisumu, I am tasked with coordinating the engagement of peace actors, as well as monitoring and ensuring effective implementation of peace building initiatives across the region", he explains.
The UN Volunteers were deployed to scale up the peacebuilding activities in the context of the 2017 general elections under the UWIANO platform, a national multi-stakeholder conflict prevention and response system. The platform integrates the use of SMS, Incident Reports and Media reports to help strengthen peace and conflict prevention efforts in Kenya.
The involvement of UN Volunteers in supporting a peaceful election in Kenya builds on experience from previous engagements: the neighbourhood volunteer scheme established in 2008 to respond to the post-election violence that shook the nation; and the Get Informed, Get Involved project in 2013 that aimed to get youth informed, involved and actively participating in political party processes.
As UN Volunteer Annastacia Some puts it: " I am proud to have supported a peaceful electoral process. The beneficial experience is mutual, as I gained expertise in my field while building the much-needed trust between communities and local government administration."
In his support to the 2017 national elections, Castro fondly remembers the peace caravan he organized as a culmination of a series of peace-building initiatives he spearheaded for several months under very limited budget and time constraints. Some key activities he successfully organized included peacebuilding forums with politicians, engaging youth motorcycle riders on violence prevention, peace campaigns in local media, and county-wide youth forums under an initiative called Sauti 47.
UNDP’s “Strengthening National Capacities for Conflict Prevention” programme is supported by the European Union, the Swedish Development Agency (SIDA), the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DfID) and Kenya’s Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, and implemented through the National Directorate for Peace Building and Conflict Management (NSC/PBCM), with multiple national and local partners.
The UWIANO Platform for Peace is a conflict prevention strategy that enhances collaboration between peace actors in the country. Established in 2010 the platform provides space for coordination of electoral- violence reduction initiatives and remains a critical vehicle for managing electoral violence in the country. The platform’s strategy towards peaceful cohesion was instrumental in the realization of the relatively peaceful outcome during the 2013 general elections. UWIANO is a basket fund supported by the Swedish Development Agency (SIDA), the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DfID), European Union (EU) and the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government; implemented through the National Directorate for Peace Building and Conflict Management (NSC/PBCM), in collaboration with multiple national and local partners
For more information see: https://uwiano.or.ke