Tuesday, September 23, 2008



Kenya Times
Nairobi, Kenya
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Story by: Okello Kajoji

IT is difficult to say whether African countries are truly breaking new grounds in pursuit of better practices and values for their people. The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and its Peer Review Mechanisms provided some key cornerstones towards the realisation of good governance, sustainable human development. Kenya has been among only a handful of countries which signed up for peer review. It can be said that when Kenya did this in 2003, the country was adjudged the most upbeat.

A coalition of progressive political forces had come together spearheaded by Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga and removed what was largely perceived to be a more inward looking and autocratic government. Thus when Kenya signed up for the Peer Review Mechanism, there was considerable hope that we had at least found a trajectory which would catapult us to realise much higher goals.

The assumption was that the peer review mechanism would provide an opportunity for all stakeholders in government, in civil society and in the corporate sector to reflect on the problems of governance in Kenya, both within state and non-state institutions and systems. The African Peer Review Mechanism was expected to become a catalyst for policy enhancement and change.

Kenya to its credit presented clear, time-bound commitments on key governance and socio-economic development priorities in the short-term, including the identification of key carrying us beyond the sort of situation which Kenyans plunged into when flawed elections provided reason for bloodletting to a scale never imagined in this country. There was hope that with best practices embraced, a new beam of hope for all would be realised.

But nearly five years after pledging to embark on far reaching reforms, things would appear to have stalled. Perceptions report after perception report give impression that reforms which were necessary to improve our lot are not being taken as fast as was expected. Poverty continues to brutalise Kenyans. In fact the dangers of absolute poverty was exposed during the election related violence which exploded in this country early this year.

Slums continue to expand at alarming rate, unemployment rate is hardly at the rate the government had promised Kenyans five years ago and there is no evidence that things will be better soon. In Kenya poverty has been rising with the number of people classified as poor rising from 11.3million in 1990 to over 15million today. There are also very high levels of inequality between provinces and between urban and rural areas.

The rural to urban migration figures attest to the need to tackle rural poverty as a first step to check poverty. The effects of poverty and inequality are severest among the landless, subsistence farmers, unskilled workers, women-headed households and pastoralists in arid and semi-arid lands. Naturally the There is no way vision 2030 will be realised against such high poverty index.

Crime will likely continue to soar as unemployment continue to be the number one challenge facing young people. Creating a nation at peace and in harmony with itself is being challenged by ethnicity. The NEPAD provisions were very clear and what is more, easy enough to implement but we have not seen adequate political will at necessary levels to turn around things and get back to the course we had anticipated. There are a number of areas in policy making where resolute action by the authorities will greatly improve governance and until this happens, there is no reason for Kenyans to be upbeat about the future.