The Effects of War and Peace on Foreign Aid: Case of Kenya
Kenya is one of the many countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa that has faced inter-ethnic conflicts in the post-independence Africa and the post-cold war world. The politically instigated inter-ethnic conflicts in Kenya have been common since 1992 with the introduction of multiparty politics in the country. Conflicts in Kenya have been faced especially during election periods in the Country as were witnessed in 1992/1993 as well as 1997 with the worst episode of these conflicts being faced in 2007/2008 as a result of disputed presidential election results. During these conflicts, a lot of foreign assistance has been coming to Kenya to help in stabilizing the situation in the Country. Kenya has also been receiving a lot of foreign aid due to its strategic position in Eastern Africa. Kenya has been hosting many refugees from some war tone countries including Sudan, Somali, Congo, and Burundi. In the recent years Kenya has also been a target of terrorism with frequent terror attacks from the Somali-based Al-Shabaab terror network and has also received a lot of support to counter these problems. This paper, therefore, seeks to evaluate the positive as well as the negative aspects of peace and war on foreign aid.
Positive and negative effects of peace and war on distribution of foreign aid in Kenya
Kenya as just like many countries in the sub-Saharan Africa is dependent on foreign aid regarding grants, loans, humanitarian aid and technological assistance for development. Most of the foreign aid for these developing countries comes from development partners and institutions like the World Bank and the IMF as well as inform of bilateral assistance from individual donor countries.
During war or conflicts, most of the foreign aid is aimed at stabilizing the situation. This aid has in such cases been regarding humanitarian assistance, security and intelligence assistance, military aid as well as financial Aid. In the recent past Kenya has been faced by a number of Conflict situation and Aid during such times has been aiming at dealing with the immediate problem on short-term basis for instance in 2007/2008 Kenya was involved in the post-election violence which threatened to plunge the country into turmoil, however with assistance from the international community, this crisis was averted. Similarly, in 2010, Kenya invaded Somalia to flush out the Al-Shabaab terror network which was becoming a security threat to Kenya and the East African region at large. During this period, the United States government-funded Kenya to a tune of 35 million dollars in counter-terrorism efforts. The USA also in the same year provided 4 million dollars in military assistance and training of another 3 million dollars to help the country in stabilizing the project that the government had initiated. Kenya has since 2013 grappled with the problem of terror attacks, and there has been sustained support from the international community regarding foreign aid as well as development assistance.
Despite the periodic conflicts, compared to other Countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa, Kenya has been relatively stable politically and economically since independence in 1963. Therefore, Kenya has enjoyed more periods of peace and stability that it has had conflicts. The Peaceful nature of this country has made it a strategic country in East and Central Africa and has therefore attracted a lot of foreign aid for development and investment from foreign donors. The peaceful periods in Kenya have seen some donor-funded projects kick off in the country and these projects have been aimed at improving the lives of the Kenyan people, alleviate poverty as well as help in strengthening Key institutions. The USA the EU have helped for instance in funding programs aimed at boosting the rule of law, and disaster preparedness in the Country. One of the achievements that Kenya received due to this kind of support was the promulgation of a new constitution in 2010.
Most of the institutions that offer aid to Kenya have more often than not insisted that the aid is meant to improve the lives of ordinary citizens, strengthen institutions, protect human rights as well as advance democratic governance as well as facilitate infrastructural development. However, in many instances, some of these conditions have not been meant by the subsequent governments with some government institutions still being accused of human rights violation, for instance, the police in Kenya have in many instances been accused of extrajudicial killings and unfair detention or ethnic profiling of the Kenyan Somalis in Nairobi, all these in the name of fighting terrorism. The Vibrant Civil Society Organizations and the Media in Kenya have also faced many challenges with the government restricting the activities of some of these organizations. One such move was the controversial passing the Security bill that was forcefully passed in the Kenyan parliament amid chaos with the Ruling Jubilee alliance equating the Security bill to the United States’ PATRIOT Act that was passed after the 9/11 attack.
In some instances, the foreign aid has not ended up serving its purpose with corrupt government officials being accused of looting funds meant for development. There have also been situations where poor planning on the side of the government has led to the funds being used for the purposes for which they were not intended for instance, on many occasions, the Kenyan government has often received money for development purposes and ended up using such money on recurrent expenditure. To this extent, accountability has been a problem and has resulted to dissatisfaction of donors, the civil society organizations as well as the public.
Foreign aid has over the years been used to perpetuate inequality in Kenya with the ruling governments using the funds to develop areas that favor them politically at the expense of the areas perceived as pro-opposition. This has led to a widening gap between the rich and the poor in the country. The increasing economic inequality has seen sections of the country marginalized from economic development and therefore increased poverty in these marginalized areas. Conflicts have remained common in most marginalized areas as most indigenous communities keep.
Impacts of Foreign Aid on Poverty levels and Leadership in Kenya
Through foreign aid, some infrastructural projects have been initiated and some even completed. Most of these projects have to a large extent helped in improving the lives of Kenyans in the rural and urban centers. Some of the major projects that have helped in improving the lives of Kenyans have include; the Slum upgrading program that was initiated by the grand coalition government; the rural electrification project that is still ongoing to date, in which the government has subsidized the cost of connecting to electricity to only 150 dollars, which can be paid in installments and has been seen by many Kenyans as affordable. The government has also worked towards improving transport networks and Access to water across the Country both in urban and rural areas. Most of these Projects have been supported through foreign aid
Foreign aid has also facilitated institutional reforms as well as governance. Under the new constitution of 2010, Kenya now has devolved systems of government; this system of government is aimed at ensuring that resources trickle down to the ordinary citizens at the villages, these in efforts to alleviate poverty at all levels in the country. Many donors and development partners have been strong supporters of devolution in Kenya.
Kenya also achieved some the Millennium development Goals and emerged as one the highest ranked countries in achieving the MDGs in Africa. In the same spirit, Kenya devised its economic blueprint in 2009 which is popularly known in the country as vision 2030. The Vision 2030 has three pillars, namely; economic pillar which aims at bolster Kenyan economic growth rate and makes it a middle-income country while improving the welfare of its citizens and eradicating poverty; Social pillar which aims at ensuring justice and equitable development and the political pillar which aims at making Kenya a strong democracy.
Kenya still faces many challenges in the realization of total political stability due to some of the institutional weaknesses that are experienced in the Country. Corruption has remained the major undoing of the government institutions despite there being a commission mandated with handling corruption. The probability of inter-ethnic conflicts remains a major source of worry for many especially when elections are approaching. However, the country has made tremendous progress in its institutional reforms as well as in the efforts towards cohesion and equitable development. Through the county governments, many citizens are now able to access essential services that they were unable to access before 2013. There are also higher prospects for further improvement in the future.