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  • Author: Harvey Galper, Reehana Raza
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: On March 13, Kenya reported its first case of COVID-19, and an additional 649 cases were reported in the following two months. As the pandemic spreads, Kenya’s policymakers are facing the first significant challenge to the country’s nascent intergovernmental system and will have to prioritize how to spend the country’s scarce resources amid existing fiscal constraints. Established in 2013, Kenya’s decentralized government structure gives the country’s 47 counties the primary responsibility of delivering health care services to their citizens. But historical and geographical factors have led to substantial variation across counties in both health care capacity and risk of contracting the coronavirus. To make critical decisions to control the pandemic, Kenya’s policymakers will need not only accurate data on the spread of the coronavirus but also county-specific data and analyses on health care capacity and population risk. With such county-level data, the national government can flatten the curve and better allocate the country’s limited resources in line with individual counties' circumstances.
  • Topic: Health, Population, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Kenya, Africa
  • Author: Cade McCurdy, Harvey Galper, Reehana Raza
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: For national governments around the world, effective budgeting depends on accurate revenue forecasts. Revenue forecasts are estimates of what governments will collect from various sources, such as income taxes, value-added taxes, corporate taxes, and excises, which together determine the funds available to allocate to various public programs. If revenues are significantly overestimated in the budgetary process, the results can be unexpected borrowing, high debt-service costs, and cutbacks in these important governmental services. Under Kenya’s newly decentralized government structure, accurate revenue forecasting has become more important than ever. Kenya’s new constitution, approved in 2010, decentralized the country’s government structure and created 47 county governments, each responsible for a broad range of programs and services. Counties’ execution of these programs depends heavily on funds from the national government.
  • Topic: Government, Budget, Economic Growth, Revenue Management
  • Political Geography: Kenya, Africa
  • Author: Matthew Eldridge, Charles Cadwell
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: This summer, several hundred asylum seekers—most fleeing violence in Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo—arrived in Portland, Maine, igniting a debate on how to support these new arrivals, most of whom have immediate housing and service needs, as well as issues related to trauma and navigating a new country, and whether to encourage more immigration to bridge local labor shortages. The responsibility of providing services for asylum seekers—unlike refugees, who have access to some supports—falls into a gray area without clearly delineated roles for local, state, and federal government agencies. If granted asylum, these individuals would be eligible for federal supports, but that process could take months or years. Capacity constraints among local service providers are limiting their ability to expand services to meet these new needs. Although there may be long-term, quantifiable benefits for integrating these new, mostly younger residents into communities with workforce needs, the short-to-medium-term integration and support costs, coupled with unclear funding responsibilities and tight budgets, present barriers to action.
  • Topic: Refugees, Asylum, Integration
  • Political Geography: Africa, North America, Angola, United States of America, Congo
  • Author: Reehana Raza, Karuti Kanyinga, Akanshaka Ray
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: On August 8, 2017, Kenya held its first elections since creating 47 new county governments in 2013 under a constitution promulgated in 2010. The elections were intensely contested both at the national and local level. Disputes over presidential results, amid allegations of fraud, saw Kenya’s new apex court, the Supreme Court, annul the August 8 presidential election. The court ordered a fresh presidential poll, which was held on October 26, 2017. Meanwhile, more than 20 local governorship results were legally contested, with multiple cases being taken all the way to the Supreme Court. These elections and the violence that followed the disputed presidential election created long periods of uncertainty across Kenya’s national and local government. In Wajir county, the election result for governor was contested for almost 20 months, until the Supreme Court ruled last February that the election was valid. Political transition generally creates uncertainty for bureaucrats, but prolonged transition periods exacerbate uncertainty and paralyze government functions. An annual survey and a technical report by partners implementing a project funded by the US Agency for International Development and the UK Department for International Development, Agile Harmonized Assistance for Devolved Institutions (AHADI), assesses how 22 Kenyan counties are improving their capacity to efficiently provide services to citizens. The most recent 2018 assessment shows how the 2017 elections undermined counties’ ability to sustain and maintain capacity-building initiatives.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Elections, Transition
  • Political Geography: Kenya, Africa
  • Author: Fenohasina Rakotondrazaka Maret, Jacques Lévesque
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: Across Africa, there is increasing public investment in strategies to promote government transparency and empower citizens to hold their leaders accountable. Achieving transparency, however, is a formidable challenge, especially given constraining political contexts in some sub-Saharan African countries, a third of which have been ruled by a single party for several decades.
  • Topic: Government, Democracy, Accountability, Investment, Transparency
  • Political Geography: Africa, Tanzania
  • Author: Patrick Meagher, Ammar A. Malik, Edward Mohr, Yasemin Irvin-Erickson
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: The world is in the midst of an unprecedented refugee crisis, and Uganda’s response to the influx of asylum-seekers from South-Sudan is considered successful and is therefore a valuable target for study and replication. Uganda accepts refugees regardless of point of origin and gives them the rights of freedom of movement and the opportunity to seek employment. This case study examines the official government and humanitarian agency response to increased refugee numbers, both in terms of policies and resources. It also focuses on telecommunication access and humanitarian cash transfers, and it analyzes the partnership between Danish Church Aid and Airtel Uganda.
  • Topic: Government, Humanitarian Aid, Science and Technology, Refugee Issues, Immigrants, International Development, Asylum
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Africa, South Sudan
  • Author: Ammar A. Malik, Edward Mohr, Yasemin Irvin-Erickson
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: With the global displaced population exceeding 68 million, the global humanitarian response system is under unprecedented stress. With widening funding gaps and no resolution in sight, new solutions are needed to address the needs of over 68 million displaced people worldwide. The private sector’s innovative and financial capacity is emerging as one such avenue, resulting in dozens of partnerships with local and international nonprofits. Depending on local policy environments, such working arrangements create both opportunities and risks for partners and hosts. This report is an attempt to learn lessons from existing experiences and offer insights on what works under given circumstances. Through desk research on existing partnerships, semistructured interviews with key stakeholders, site visits with partners in Jordan and Uganda, expert roundtables, and public discussions, we gather insights on both conceptual and practical aspects of partnerships benefiting refugees. We introduce a conceptual framework on the variety of options available to partners and offer recommendations for organizing win-win partnerships in the future.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Immigration, Refugees, International Development, Displacement, Private Sector
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Africa, Middle East, Jordan
  • Author: Loren Landau, Kabiri Bule, Ammar A. Malik, Caroline Wanjiku-Kihato, Yasemin Irvin-Erickson, Benjamin Edwards, Edward Mohr
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: Building on original quantitative and qualitative fieldwork in three refugee hosting cities – Nairobi, Gaziantep, and Peshawar—this study explores the role of social networks in furthering or hampering displaced persons’ ability to achieve self-reliance. Experiences are diverse, but several general findings emerge: (1) Group membership is remarkably low; (2) Social networks are an invaluable asset for many but are either unavailable or a hindrance for others; (3) The in-group networks that initially offer protection become less effective in the long-term; and (4) Economic security is closely depending on people’s ability to forge connections beyond co-nationals.
  • Topic: Immigration, Governance, International Development, Urban, Cities
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Kenya, Africa, South Asia, Turkey, Middle East, Nairobi, Gaziantep, Peshawar
  • Author: Fenohasina Rakotondrazaka Maret, Harsh Parikh, Rachel Wilder
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: The United Nations designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, and for good reason. The tourism industry generates 10.2 percent of global GDP and employs 1 in 10 workers. Women make up more than half of the tourism workforce, which makes the industry’s growth a unique opportunity to empower women across the world. But we need additional data to better understand how women intersect with this burgeoning industry.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Tourism, Women, Partnerships, International Development
  • Political Geography: Africa, Botswana, Global Focus
  • Author: Fenohasina Rakotondrazaka Maret, Daiki Akiyoshi
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: In Nairobi, Kenya, technological advances like Uber have brought positive disruption and significant benefits to consumers. The country has been called the Silicon Savannah for having hatched various technological innovations. But in some parts of Kenya, it’s not uncommon to wait for hours to get a stable Internet connection. In the capitals of Madagascar and Burkina Faso, where smartphone and computer ownership is still low, people have to go to cybercafés to access the Internet, usually on run-down computers with old software, and even then, connection speeds may be painfully slow. Slow connection speeds and lack of Internet access aren’t just a hassle though, they’re signs of the digital divide that sets many African countries behind. The World Bank’s World Development Report 2016 provides an in-depth analysis of countries’ access to and use of the Internet, mobile phones, and tools to collect, store, analyze, and share information digitally. We revisited the latest data and observed a persistent digital divide, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Topic: Development, Science and Technology, Digital Policy
  • Political Geography: Kenya, Africa, Madagascar, Burkina Faso