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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: 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: 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, 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
  • Author: Loren Landau, Caroline Wanjiku-Kihato, Jean Pierre Misago, Benjamin Edwards
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: People displaced into urban areas due to war, persecution, or climatic crisis have claimed an increasingly prominent position in humanitarian operations and research. Through an examination of three African municipalities currently hosting displaced persons we study the cognitive, financial, and political incentives that work for and against a proactive response to displacement. We find that in cities where deprivation is widespread, effective engagement with municipal authorities demands a shift in approach. Rather than appeals to domestic or international protection principles, effective engagement with local authorities requires recognizing local authorities’ interests and incentives to develop strategies to align protection concerns with local political economic factors.
  • Topic: Economics, Humanitarian Aid, Displacement, Urban, Cities
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Kenya, Africa, South Africa