- Effective comprehensive humanitarian response to natural disasters, including drought and floods during the El Niño-enhanced short rains season, as well as complex emergencies.
- Successful establishment of Kenya Emergency Response Fund in June 2009 and support for eight projects in the second half of the year.
The political tensions that triggered a serious post-elections crisis in 2007/2008 have diminished. However, Kenya still faced persistent humanitarian problems. There was a clear vulnerability to natural disasters, including droughts and floods. Frequent epidemics put a huge burden on overstretched health resources. There was a continuing influx of refugees from Somalia and a fluctuating IDP population, often fleeing localized conflicts. Fresh concerns were raised about the continuing population migration to Nairobi and other urban centres, with resources heavily stretched and a continuing deterioration in living conditions, particularly in expanding slum areas.
The situation’s complexity is driving efforts to establish an integrated strategy to tackle short-term needs and the underlying causes of vulnerability and underdevelopment.
A key priority for OCHA in 2009 was helping mobilize donor support. As part of ongoing efforts to support predictable and needs-based financing, OCHA facilitated the establishment of the Kenya Emergency Response Fund under the HC’s leadership. It also supported five applications to the rapid response and underfunded CERF windows. Much of the funding was directed at combating the impact of severe drought, with the highest levels of vulnerability in the Arid and Semi-Arid Land areas.
Poor short rains at the end of 2008 were followed by poor long rains from March to June 2009. Pastoralist communities, who inhabit over 80 per cent of the land mass, were hit particularly hard, facing livestock disease and a loss of pasture. Food consumption and dietary diversity were at record lows in the worst affected areas. The drought’s intensity brought a reappraisal of requests to donors. As of late November, the Emergency Humanitarian Response Plan (EHRP) for 2009 had received $370 million of $576 million requested (64 per cent). But serious shortfalls were registered in sectors such as coordination, education, health and food security. Four CERF allocations, supported by OCHA, provided $25.85 million for rapid response activities. Against this background, the EHRP agreed by the Kenya Humanitarian Partnership Team (KHPT) for 2010 requested $508.5 million.
OCHA continued to push to incorporate Disaster Risk Reduction into strategic planning, including through the EHRP. Preparedness progress included the release of early warning reports on the flood threats as a result of El Niño conditions during the short rains season. This led to comprehensive contingency planning and implementing relevant measures throughout the country. Despite heavy flooding, the high level of preparedness led to an appropriate and coordinated response in the affected districts and mitigated the impact on vulnerable populations. Contingency plans were also established to respond to urban violence and are being reviewed for refugee inflows. In addition, OCHA provided significant technical support towards developing the National Disaster Response Plan. Issues highlighted in individual campaigns included the impact of climate change on pastoralist communities and urban vulnerability.
OCHA Kenya continued to facilitate coordination at the technical level through regular inter-sector consultations, and provide support to specific sectors through technical guidance and IM. OCHA facilitated a review of the IASC structure and supported its transition - including NGOs’ expanded participation - to the KHPT in line with the Principles of Partnership. OCHA worked with the HC to ensure the OCHA Kenya work plan and EHRP are fully aligned.
Through efforts between OCHA, the Government and the humanitarian community, an inclusive Government-led coordination system was established. The Crisis Response Centre now forms the national humanitarian coordination framework for Kenya and brings together the key technical sectors. Further measures will continue into 2010 to ensure its effective operation at all levels. With the Minister of Justice, the Legal Aid Sub-Working Group began the planning process for drafting a national policy on IDPs.
While there was still a strong residual impact from the Post-Elections Violence (PEV) in 2007/2008, most IDPs continued to return to their home area, although around 20,000 were still in transit sites across the Rift Valley. OCHA field offices in Nakuru and Eldoret that were established in response to the PEV were replaced by a mobile field unit. The unit will be deployed to selected areas when needed, ready to build and strengthen partnership networks.
OCHA Kenya continued promoting a gender perspective in inter-agency planning processes and other activities, using sex- and age-disaggregated data where appropriate. The In-Country Network (ICN) on PSEA, involving United Nations and NGO partners, was launched in May 2009 under the joint chair of OCHA and the Kenya Red Cross Society. To date, the ICN has developed and tested a reporting tool, and a web-based resource centre has been established.