Why the international community supports development projects in Kenya

Kenya: Within the next month we will be celebrating Kenya’s Jubilee anniversary. Many of our development partnerships date back over the 50 years since Kenya’s independence.

Since then they have grown and deepened, and are now modern partnerships based on mutual understanding, respect for each other’s sovereignty and shared interests.

We, Kenya’s Development Partners, met this week with Government, private sector and civil society to improve our common understanding of how best we can work together in support of progress and prosperity in Kenya.  In line with aid effectiveness principles, we discussed how we could help deliver the government’s plans to achieve middle income status through Vision 2030. 

During 2011, we provided 212 billion Shillings to education, healthcare, infrastructure, agriculture and natural resources, economic growth and wealth creation, human rights, women’s advancement, and governance.

We recognise Kenya’s great potential and welcome the government’s goal of double digit growth and creating a more competitive, business friendly environment, while preserving sound macroeconomic policies. Our trade ties are central to our relationship; building jobs, growth and prosperity.

However growth must be sustainable and benefiting all, particularly the poorest.  We are ready to assist to ensure that growth is sustainable and transparent, as envisioned in the Constitution, including the exploitation of Kenya’s resources in the extractives sector. As international partners we are proud to support Kenyans in continuing to expand the economy, in increasing trade and investment, and creating more jobs.

The new Constitution underpins this vision and gives clear direction for a well-balanced society and puts in place necessary checks and balances. Much progress has already been made and we welcome the priority placed by the Kenyan people on the Constitution’s founding principles and continued implementation.

Devolution is a crucial part of the Constitution and a unique opportunity to establish democratic and efficient structures closer to the people - to ensure more effective service delivery and distribution of resources. But it will not happen overnight. There is a need to build capacity, political will and public buy-in.

We, the Development Partners, are willing to offer continued support to the devolution process as envisioned in the Constitution, including helping to preserve coherence between the national and county governments.

The Westgate atrocity was a shock for all of us. We stand by the government and Kenyan people in tackling the causes of terrorism, encourage measures to strengthen security and applaud Kenya’s contribution towards peace and stability in the region.

Many Kenyans are now living with increased insecurity, caused by ethnic conflict, violence and common crime. We realize that the police work hard under difficult circumstances and highlight the importance of Kenya’s commitment to continued police reform. We emphasize the need for full respect for the rule of law and human rights, and upholding integrity and accountability. In the current legislative process we encourage a focus on enabling police in tackling crime, and caution against allowing more latitude for the use of force.

We also support the Kenyan people in the efforts to fight impunity and corruption, and welcome the government’s commitment to fulfilling its international obligations. We encourage national judicial processes to be initiated and are ready to provide support to generate justice to the victims of post-election violence.

The report by the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission provides for restorative justice. It is justice, together with an intensified fight against corruption and mismanagement that is critical for democracy, a growing economy and lasting peace. 

In Kenya, as elsewhere, democracy rests on the mutually supporting pillars of equality, rule of law and fundamental freedoms. Indeed, a vibrant and responsive democracy thrives from a community of consenting and dissenting voices.

We welcome the intention to review the recent Information and Communications Bill, and encourage efforts to ensure that the freedom of the media is protected. 

We encourage similar considerations of the recently proposed amendments to the Public Benefit Organisations Act, remembering that it is often to civil society organisations that the poorest Kenyans turn for support and redress.  Civil society is an integral part of a free and open society.

As these two bills are presently drafted, we are concerned that they could narrow the democratic space so clearly provided for in the Constitution, and restrict or even prevent delivery of assistance in areas such as humanitarian aid, health, education, agriculture, implementation of the Constitution and other areas targeting marginalised groups.

These areas are all critical to attainment of government priorities in Vision 2030 and its second Medium-term plan.  This could ultimately risk curtailing Kenya’s economic progress. For the last 50 years we have enjoyed deep, meaningful, and multi-layered partnerships with Kenya.  We will continue this engagement and friendship into the future, working together towards a more secure, stable and prosperous tomorrow.

-Signed by Ambassadors, High Commissioners, Country Directors and Chargé d’affaires from: African Development Bank, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark EU, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, USA, and World Bank.