In their efforts to consolidate national rather than local identities, African countries have historically privileged highly centralized models of governance.
While Kenya's economy continues to steadily grow, it remains one of the most unequal countries in the world (ranked 146 out of 188 on the Inequality-Adjusted Human Development Index in 2016). The country has, since August 2010, been implementing a new Constitution with an expanded Bill of Rights and one of the most ambitious devolution processes anywhere in the world. A large number of functions transferred to 47 newly-created county governments has strengthened accountability and public service delivery at local levels. Looking back on the last seven years, there has been significant progress made over a relatively short period. However, much more still needs to be done to align pre-existing laws with the Constitution and to enact new laws to implement it. Other persistent challenges miring the constitutional implementation process include: corruption, ethnically-based political rivalries, gender inequality, security concerns, and climate change.
Kenya is a Member Party of IDLO, and since 2010 there has been collaboration with the key agencies in the country responsible for the implementation of key provisions of the Constitution, particularly relating to the Bill of Rights, land and environment, devolution, the judiciary, access to justice and representation of the people. A key component of IDLO’s work also relates to advancing gender equality across the country and operationalizing the gender provisions contained in the Constitution.
“Having a new Constitution is all very fine,” one guest at an IDLO event memorably said, “but fixing Nairobi’s traffic may be more important.”
IDLO, in conjunction with the Kenyan government, has launched a Gender Management System (GMS) training manual and guide, aimed at increasing knowledge and institutional capacity on gender-related concepts and issues.
Kenya's 2010 Constitution, whose implementation benefited from IDLO expertise, had helped build trust and confidence in the country's judiciary, IDLO Director of Global Initiatives Ted Hill said at a public lecture in The Hague this week. The subsequent Kenyan elections, in 2013, were the first in which disputes were resolved in court rather than in the street.
Ongoing reform of its energy legal framework has made Kenya a regional leader in promoting policies and laws that encourage sustainable investment in energy development the sector The country, however, still struggles to meet its energy demands. More than 33 million Kenyan citizens live without electricity.Properly harnessing resources, and targeting efforts at making eflectricity more accessible and affordable, would ensure that Kenya’s energy demands were fully and sustainably met.
Climate change is threatening to reverse Kenya’s progress on poverty reduction and exacerbate economic and social inequality. In order to build resilience and outline a low-carbon approach to development, IDLO has assisted the Kenyan Government in drafting a comprehensive National Climate Change Action Plan 2013-2017. This technical assistance included compiling a Legal Preparedness Assessment Report and establishing a Climate Law Working Group, made up of law students from Kenya’s leading universities.
IDLO is working with the Government of Kenya to advance gender equality across the country and enact gender provisions contained in the Constitution. Since 2013, IDLO has partnered to enhance the capacity of the Government of Kenya to mainstream gender at both the national and county levels. IDLO’s support included strategic policy development, critical legislative review, expert technical advice, and institutional strengthening.
While the new Constitution of Kenya, 2010 provides for the right of every Kenyan to access justice, its implementation is vital to strengthen and support the changes required for a better Kenya. IDLO is supporting the Kenyan Government to implement the Constitution in an effective, efficient and sustainable manner, in accordance with international standards and best practices. This is being done with a view to enhancing access to justice for Kenyans, especially for women, children and other vulnerable populations.