OCHA lessons learned review of the Kenya national election humanitarian preparedness process

from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 26 Jul 2013

Between March 2012 and April 2013, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Eastern Africa, ramped up its coordination of humanitarian preparedness efforts in Kenya. This was in response to a common risk assessment that suggested a high likelihood and significant potential impact of election violence as Kenya moved towards its latest round of national elections. During this preparedness period, OCHA, the Government of Kenya, and other humanitarian partners organized a number of preparedness activities, such as, risk assessment and mapping, scenario building, contingency planning, resource mobilization, pre-positioning of response resources, and situation reporting. National elections took place in early March 2013, and OCHA’s humanitarian preparedness work quickly wound down after election results were announced and it became clear that election violence had largely been avoided.

After the immediate risk abated, and supported by the Kenya Humanitarian Partnership Team (KHPT), OCHA organized a lessons learned review (LLR) of this humanitarian preparedness process. The review was facilitated by an external consultant and took place in late May 2013 while memories of front-line officers directly involved in the preparedness process were still fresh.

In general, there was a high level of satisfaction within the government and among humanitarian partners in Kenya with the coordination, contingency planning, resource mobilization and information management that had characterized the preparedness process. This was summed up in the words of one respected, experienced, and high-level NGO representative who exclaimed, with justified pride: “by the end, we were over prepared”.

The review consulted extensively and led to fifteen identified lessons learned that were endorsed by the KHPT. The period of reflection, and the new knowledge that resulted from the LLR, led to five recommendations which are presented as part of this final report. The recommendations have also been endorsed by the KHPT and can be summed up as follows:

• Further national humanitarian contingency planning capacity building should be integrated into Kenya’s UNDAF;

• External investment in strategic, central-level, best-practice humanitarian preparedness coordination should continue so that humanitarian preparedness is not forgotten;

• Residual humanitarian response coordination structures at sub-national level, aligned with the government’s own evolving disaster response architecture, should be encouraged;

• Additional investments should be made in a multi-sector, inter-agency, initial rapid assessment tool that can be used with credibility and consistency in Kenya; and

• The application of advanced social media technology to serve humanitarian preparedness should be encouraged through a coordinated, coalition approach.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

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