- Kenya is ranked 147 of 182 on the Human Development Index.
- Due to climate variability, Kenya endures repeated drought and flood disasters, sometimes simultaneously.
- Food insecurity is characterized by reduced access and availability of food for millions of people. The country faces crop shortfalls of up to 40% of normal production going into 2010.
- Infectious diseases signal increasing virulence, changing incidence and shifting vectors of transmission.
- Socio-economic inequalities, uneven development, and the impact of the global financial crisis combine to deepen poverty. Urbanization has expanded and vulnerability levels in cities have worsened.
- Political and social instability leaves constant lingering ethnic tensions.
- Dynamics across the borders strain national resources and challenge early warning and preparedness systems for wider coverage. Kenya is host to 375,662 refugees.
In Kenya, OCHA confronts coordination challenges related to chronic vulnerability with frequent acute spikes, slow-onset and sudden disasters, fragile socio-economy, and uneven social service delivery. Advocacy must be strengthened with long-term decision-makers and partners to address the underlying causes of vulnerability while coordinating emergency humanitarian action. New areas of vulnerability in the cities as a result of climate change and environmental degradation call for new approaches and partnerships across the spectrum. Structures traditionally focused on drought and food insecurity challenge interagency coordination when other disasters strike.
OCHA support to the HC and national decision-makers is deemed important added value for enhanced humanitarian response. OCHA plays a key support function to the Government Crisis Response Centre, established in 2009. OCHA was mandated to support disaster risk reduction in the UNDAF 2009-2013 and has positively contributed to driving the process alongside cluster and sectoral working groups and Government.
In 2009, OCHA Kenya strengthened field coordination to new areas where OCHA was not present. NGO and government contacts are essential to monitoring the humanitarian situation, coordinating the response, and strengthening reciprocal information flow between national and field levels. OCHA must continue strengthening its working relations with government and extend its partnership to other actors (United Nations Environment Programme [UNEP], United Nations Human Settlements Programme [UN HABITAT], and UNDP) and NGOs.
In 2010, OCHA will therefore strive for more streamlined coordination structures supported by enhanced capacities for preparedness and response; innovations in response tools and mechanisms; and enhanced communications for social awareness and public information including lessons learned. Information analysis and advocacy initiatives will clearly profile the Kenyan humanitarian context and seek to influence planning and decision-making.
In particular, the OCHA action plan for 2010 will focus on the following strategic priorities:
- In relation to Objective 2.1 (effective mechanisms that manage and support accountable humanitarian coordination leaders) OCHA will further enhance the work of cluster/sector working groups while supporting the HC to effectively lead humanitarian coordination. OCHA will seek to harmonize international humanitarian community structures with their counterparts at the national level, while facilitating the alignment of emergency and long-term structures. OCHA will work with partners to support government capacity strengthening efforts for coordination and humanitarian action at the national and sub-national levels.
- In relation to Objective 2.3 (a more predictable and scalable suite of OCHA services and tools to support leaders and partners in response preparedness, humanitarian response, and transition) greater reliance will be placed on field based partnerships for information sharing, while mobile surge teams based in Nairobi will be deployed as needed to crisis areas for needs assessments, preparedness training and disaster coordination throughout the response cycle.
- In relation to Objective 1.2 (relationships strengthened with a wider group of operational partners, and other relevant actors to advance humanitarian action) OCHA will engage with government at national and sub-national levels, with local partners and directly with communities. Dialogue and engagement with development actors and research institutions will be deepened and rendered more purposeful. OCHA will focus on strengthening capacities within these partnerships, transferring knowledge of humanitarian tools and mechanisms, and adapting them to meet emerging challenges.
- In relation to Objective 1.4 (humanitarian response and response preparedness are underpinned by integrated analysis and rigorous learning) OCHA will analyze the trends and impacts on population groups, to advocate needs and improve predictive capacities for preparedness and planning. In 2010, OCHA will focus its analysis on the humanitarian impact of climate change, humanitarian dimensions of urban vulnerability, pastoralism in crisis, and livelihoods security.
Tackling Climate Change and Urban Vulnerability in Kenya
There is a convergence of trends that complicate the definition of humanitarian need and make it hard to understand the underlying drivers of vulnerability. In Kenya, OCHA is employing innovative approaches to the application of its core function of IM and advocacy to facilitate sustainable solutions. OCHA is bringing partners together to enhance the understanding of the impact of climate change on populations and the ways in which humanitarian need manifests in urban areas.
This understanding will trigger collaborative responses that can address underlying causes while tackling urgent life saving needs. OCHA will work with UN HABITAT on urban vulnerability and with UNEP, International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Institute for Security Studies on the humanitarian impact of climate change. Advocacy to highlight the needs of pastoralist communities will be a key focus for OCHA in 2010.