Helpdesk Research Report: Humanitarian response to the post-election violence in Kenya in 2007/8

Evaluation and Lessons Learned
Originally published
View original


  1. Overview

This literature review identifies reviews and evaluations with conclusions, lessons learned and/or recommendations on the humanitarian response to the post-election violence (PEV) in Kenya in 2007/8. The research interprets ‘humanitarian response’ to cover the interventions promoting human welfare in the aftermath of the PEV in Kenya in 2007/8. 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 research does not focus on peacebuilding or governance issues.

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) issued 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. 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 main conclusions and recommendations on the response to the extensive and fluid displacement include the following.

 The humanitarian response 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 IDPs outside the camps and their host communities had distinct needs requiring a different approach from the assistance provided to IDPs in the camps.

 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 condition for healing and reconciliation.

Lessons learned and recommendations on the integration of protection issues in the humanitarian response include: i) addressing the shortfall on the response to sexual exploitation and violence (mainly, but not limited, to women and children); ii) meeting challenges in implementing ISAC guidelines on mental health and psychosocial support; and iii) improving coordination and building on some positive experiences of HIV programming.

Evaluations of the cash based early recovery programmes report an overall positive experience across various interventions and identify lessons learned and recommendations for areas such as meeting the needs of the most vulnerable, working closely with local structures, building on the successful M-Pesa experience, ensuring community-based targeting, preparing clear communication briefs, and reviewing the budgetary cap on direct cash transfers.

Findings on funding approaches and instruments used in the PEV humanitarian response highlight the importance of having rapid, timely, flexible, longer-term and more predictable funding.

Learning points on security for humanitarian organisations included: the vulnerability of national staff and the importance of having evacuation plans and relocation policies prepared in advance; a standardised set of security levels and indicators; Kenyans in the Security Subgroup; and an SMS system to distribute breaking news that can be set up quickly and efficiently.