Supporting Kenya’s Election Processes: Lessons from Past Evaluations

Executive Summary
1. Donors have supported the Kenyan elections for many years, but more consistently since 2007. The support has been coordinated within the aegis of the Donor Group on Elections (DGE), a sub-group of the Donor Group on Democratic Governance (DGDG). The DGDG is a forum that brings together development partners that have programmatic and strategic interest in democratic governance in Kenya.
2. Following the conclusion of the 2013 elections, the DGE designed this assignment so as to assess the impact of past electoral support with a special focus on the role of donors in Kenyan electoral process to date as a basis for informing decisions and strategy for possible support for 2017 elections. The Assessment has reviewed the UNDP basket support facility since 2007 and its evaluations, reports from programme evaluations of bilateral donor support, domestic observation reports and international observer mission reports and augmented these with limited interviews as a basis for making recommendations for future programme design for supporting 2017 General Elections.
3. In assessing donor support to the elections in Kenya, this report has taken as its baseline the 2007 elections. This year is instrumental in Kenyan electoral history for several reasons. First, those elections marked the first comprehensive effort at donor coordination under the DGE in supporting elections through pooling resources in a joint donor basket. Secondly, 2007 elections were characterised by Post-Election violence whose immediate trigger was the general elections resulting in comprehensive review of the framework for and conduct of elections. The result of that review undertaken by the Independent Review Commission on the 2007 Kenyan Elections (IREC), chaired by a Retired South African Judge, Johann Kriegler, was far reaching administrative, legal and constitutional reforms to the electoral system and process.
4. The culmination of these reforms was the Constitution adopted in a referendum in August, 2010. The key highlights included the establishment of  an Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the restructuring of the governance arrangement to national and devolved levels, fresh voter registration, increase in the number of electoral seats, enhanced regulation of political parties, changes to the electoral dispute resolution procedures and changes to the electoral system.
5. On donor support to  Kenyan  elections, the IREC recommended ‘a thorough evaluation of the assistance provided by the international community to the electoral process and based on that review to ‘apply lessons  learned’  and ensure that the assistance provided by the international community is ‘carefully co-ordinated and defined well in advance of the electoral process.’ This formed part of the rationale for the instant assessment, namely, determining the extent to which donors have adhered to the recommendations from IREC and previous evaluations.
6. In assessing donor support, the report has underscored the imperative of appreciating that elections are a process and not an event. Secondly, that they involve several actors who relate with each other in a chain. Donors should ensure that their support seeks to strengthen the electoral chain. This requires them to analyse the chain so as to identify weak parts of that chain for their support. In undertaking the assessment and making consideration for support, the report recommends that donors pay attention to the following criteria.
a. Accord due attention to the political context in deciding who and what to support;
b. Identify key areas of weakness in the electoral chain;
c. Examine the centrality of the function to be supported vis-à-vis the role of government;
d. Assess other sources of support that exist if donor support is withheld or is unavailable;
e. Avoid  convenient  decisions  on  support;  have  a  futuristic,  long  term agenda.
7. The report, based on a review of the reports and assessment of several thematic areas, including legal reforms, civic and voter education, electoral administration, political parties, security and peace building, voter registration, participation of marginalised groups, role of civil society, private  sector  and media and cost of elections concludes that donors still have a role to play in supporting the 2017 elections. However that role has to appreciate the changed nature of the 2017 elections, as a result of the outcome of the ICC trials, limited appetite and enthusiasm about the elections, views on the role of the international community and reality on the actual limit and consequent impact of the contributions of donors to the Kenyan elections.
8. The report makes several recommendations including:
a. retain  a  basket  and  coordinated  approach  to  supporting  the  2017 elections;
b. Create more than one basket for supporting the 2013 elections and separate the basket supporting the IEBC from that supporting other aspects of the electoral chain and process;
c. Prioritise areas for support based on an assessment of the weakest link, areas outside core Government support and those likely to have greatest impact on the 2017 elections;
d. adopt and implement an electoral cycle approach to supporting the Kenyan elections;
e. Balance between technical assistance and direct financial assistance in supporting the Kenyan elections;
f. Create clear rules to govern the management of basket funds including relationship between the basket managers, recipients and donors;
g. Develop conditions for the use of resources to support IEBC to avoid blank cheques, procurement of too much equipment and unnecessary foreign travels and training with donor support;
h. increase coordination of donor policy and diplomatic engagement around elections;
i. avoid direct implementation by basket funds;
j. pay attention to the political context of elections and electoral support
k. support the reforms to domestic observation;
l. separate domestic observation from advocacy support around elections;
m. respond to the context of devolution in designing a support facility for 2017 elections;
n. create greater linkages with Constitutional and independent offices, like the Auditor General; and
o. support greater stakeholder engagement around the 2017 elections.
9. To implement these recommendations, donors should urgently support a stakeholder conference involving all key stakeholders to discuss the electoral cycle for the 2017 elections, identify key elements of that cycle and timelines to ensure consensus and support for implementation. Secondly, the support by donors for the 2017 elections should be rolled out in 2015 and build on the outcome of the stakeholder conference. This should commence with a decision on key areas for donor support for the 2017 elections. Finally donors should then determine which baskets to establish for the 2017 elections, identify those who will manage those baskets and the set the rule for engagement for each of the baskets.
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Thursday, November 5, 2015 - 3:15pm