Humanitarian response to the post-election violence in Kenya in 2007/8

Question

What are the main conclusions/lessons/recommendations from reviews and evaluations of the humanitarian response to the post-election violence in Kenya 2007/8?

Summary

Findings cover different aspects of the humanitarian response, including the overall response (preparedness, coordination), integration of protection concerns, early recovery programmes, funding approaches and instruments and security for humanitarian organisations.

The main conclusions and lessons learned on the overall humanitarian response are that:

  • None of the actors involved were prepared for the extent and intensity of the violence and the resulting humanitarian emergency. A key lesson is that the new Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) guidelines for contingency planning should be used.
  • There was a lack of a clear policy and institutional framework for the initial coordination. The situation improved when the Kenyan government designated leads. The Kenyan Red Cross Society’s role as lead implementing agency was appreciated.
  • The cluster approach adopted to strengthen the coordination is thought to have worked well, but with key lessons learned including the importance of i) supporting national structures first and foremost; ii) incorporating all partners; iii) strengthening field-Nairobi coordination; and iv) improving inter-cluster coordination.
  • Faith-based organisations and technology both played important roles in the response.

The humanitarian response to the widespread displacement was effective in delivering life-saving assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs) and other affected populations where they were registered and accessible, although there was still much that needed to be done to meet internationally accepted standards for camp conditions. Displaced people outside the camp did not receive the same standard of humanitarian response and had different needs. Finding voluntary and ‘durable’ solutions was important, and this required taking into account the underlying causes of the crisis, tackling broader socio-political reforms and working with Kenya’s national protection institutions. The perception that assistance was disproportionately targeted at one community eroded the conditions for healing and reconciliation.

Other lessons learned and recommendations include:

  • The need to improve integration of protection issues in the humanitarian response
  • The positive experience of cash based early recovery programmes
  • The importance of rapid, timely, flexible, longer-term and more predictable funding

Enquirer: