Our work in Kenya
NIMD has been active in Kenya since 2003, when we were instrumental in setting up the Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD-K), a dialogue platform for all parliamentary parties. Since then, the NIMD programme has supported interparty dialogue and training for politicians.
From 2019, NIMD has collaborated with Mzalendo, a Kenya-based parliamentary monitoring organization. This partnership focusses on increasing parliamentary transparency and openness by bringing citizens closer to their elected representatives, and bolstering the position of women and young people within parliament.
The work with NIMD’s long-standing partner CMD-K is geared towards the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI). BBI is a joint initiative of President Kenyatta and his former opponent Raila Odinga, proposing governance reform in areas such as the administration of elections, anti-corruption measures, and devolution. For example, CMD-Kenya (with additional support from Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom) convened a two-day consultative workshop between women in political parties in Spring 2019.
In collaboration with Mzalendo, NIMD’s aim is to strengthen accountability and transparency of the work of Parliament (National Assembly and Senate) through the development of an annual parliamentary score card. NIMD also supports Mzalendo’s efforts to bring representatives closer to voters through the use of social media platforms. This project sees committee chairs and other high-ranking MPs using Mzalendo’s online platform to explain their positions in specific debates, as well as showcase their daily work and some of the challenges they face.
In 2010, our partner CMD-K contributed to the successful lobby for the gender equality clauses in Kenya’s new constitution. These stipulate that not more than two-thirds of the members of elective or appointive bodies can be of the same gender. However, fulfilling the promises of the constitution has proven difficult and in a response NIMD has supported the Green Amendment Campaign to give effect to the constitutional provisions of article 27(6) (8) and 81(b) through a popular initiative amendment for enhancement of women political participation in the National Assembly.
NIMD also works on strengthening gender equality in its work with Mzalendo. In 2019, research was done on the women and young MPs’ contributions and attendance in parliament. This information will be used to inform the debate on women political participation and campaign strategies.
Ongoing NIMD-supported dialogue initiatives
% of youth (< 25 years) included in programme activities
# of CSOs included in NIMD supported activities
Since 1992, Kenya has had a multi-party system and has steadily developed into a regional power. The country is home to a diverse patchwork of ethnic groups, and resultantly many parties and personalities forge allegiances along ethnic lines rather than policy positions or ideology.
Recent political history in Kenya has been marked by outbreaks of intercommunal violence, such as was seen in the aftermath of the 2008 and 2017 elections. However, President Uhuru Kenyatta (Jubilee Party) and his main rival Raila Odinga (Orange Democratic Movement) reconciled in 2018 with their famous handshake, when the two political heavyweights called each other ‘brothers’.
Since then and ahead of the 2022 elections the political party landscape is in flux, with over 30 parties formed in the period after the handshake. Moreover, past intercommunal violence keeps casting a shadow over the country’s political future. Therefore, the need for genuine political reform to address the underlying issues is as acute as ever.