Foreign aid is the assistance given to countries by others to support their social, political, and economic development. This aid may be in terms of money, expertise, or tangible goods like food or medical equipment. Countries that experience conflicts for a very long time do not have stable economies; therefore, they lack adequate funds to finance their projects. This motivates them to ask for assistance from other countries.
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In addition, countries that experience natural calamities like droughts, floods, or disease outbreaks may request for foreign aid to ensure they have enough resources to manage their predicaments. Kenya is a good case study that has relied on foreign aid for many years. This paper examines the effects of war and peace on foreign aid in Kenya.
Peace and War on the Distribution of Foreign Aid
Kenya has enjoyed relative peace for some time, even though this trend was disrupted by the chaos witnessed after the 2007/2008 general elections where the presidential results were disputed (Gettleman 2007). The incumbent political leaders recaptured their positions as the opposition took to the streets with its supporters to protest the outcome of the presidential elections. War broke out and it is estimated that more than 1,100 people died and a lot of property destroyed (Gettleman 2007). This shows the negative impacts of war on developing nations. America, Canada, France, Japan, and China offer foreign aid to Kenya.
However, the war made America and France reduce their funding on Kenya’s education sector and this hampered the free primary school education program founded by the then ruling government. Parents continue to struggle with their children because of a lack of school fees to take them to good schools. Moreover, other projects like road construction, rural electrification, and free medical services to children under five years have not met their targets because of inadequate funds due to the withdrawal of these nations in supporting Kenya’s economy. In addition, most women’s empowerment programs that were funded through USAID collapsed because the donors stopped supporting them.
Kenya established community-based approaches to ensure peace and stability were restored after the elections. People have realized the need for peace and reconciliation even though this has taken longer than it was expected. There has been peace since the chaos of 2007/2008 and this has motivated other nations to reconsider their decisions about withdrawing their foreign aid to Kenya. America became the first country to send its security troops to help Kenya in investigating the terror attack that happened in September 2013 in the Westgate Mall, one of Kenya’s up-market shopping center.
In addition, the Netherlands has partnered with Kenya in promoting farming activities to ensure farmers use modern technology in producing their products. China has volunteered to offer foreign aid to Kenya to ensure communities located in arid and semi-arid regions are offered school feeding programs that encourage their children to go to school and at the same time have food to eat. The expansion of the existing railway network in Kenya has been supported by aid from China and Japan that are interested in seeing that this country has a modern transport system that will reduce congestion and road accidents associated with motor vehicle transport.
The prevalence of peace in Kenya has helped the health sector to get antiretroviral drugs that offered free of charge to all victims suffering from HIV/AIDS. In addition, America’s foreign aid has spearheaded the campaign against polio and measles by offering free vaccines to children aged under five years.
President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and his leadership has ensured that foreign aid is allocated to various programs that will ensure peace prevails in the country. He has allocated more than 3,000,000 USD in supporting the efforts of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) to ensure there is peace among communities that were adversely affected by the 2007/2008 disputed presidential elections (Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission 2010).
In addition, funding of community-based programs has increased to ensure people understand the importance of peace and strive to promote it. Local chefs have been empowered to promote cohesion among their members and report cases of discrimination to the relevant authorities. In addition, the National Cohesion and Integration Commission of Kenya was formed and is supported by foreign aid to ensure people understand the need for peaceful coexistence among them despite their ethnic differences (National Cohesion and Integration Commission 2013). This commission is heavily funded by foreign aid and ensures that politicians, musicians, and community leaders do not propagate ethnicity.
In addition, it ensures that all communication (social and mainstream media) channels do not promote hate speech and anyone found doing so is forced to take responsibility for its actions. This has ensured that public gatherings do not have ethnic connotations and thus promote healthy interactions among people from different communities. Open-air courts have also been established to ensure cases of incitement, tribalism, and ethnicity are processed quickly. Most ethic based clashes in Kenya occur due to the failure of courts to prosecute criminals. Therefore, these open-air and mobile courts ensure cases of incitement and tribalism are prosecuted within the shortest time possible.
Lastly, the World Bank has sponsored women and community-based programs that ensure rural populations have income-generating projects that are managed by people from different communities (Njenga 2013). This keeps them busy and ensures they integrate without considering their ethnic backgrounds and political affiliations.
Foreign aid has helped Kenyan rural communities to reduce poverty levels. The money obtained through these aids has helped in the establishment of income-generating activities like the drilling of boreholes in arid and semi-arid areas to ensure pastoral communities have places to get water (African Development Foundation 2011). The Turkana community is slowly transforming from relying on nomadic life to farming.
This has started to bear fruits because of the bumper harvests realized in 2011 after 60 boreholes were drilled in the Turkana region. This has reduced poverty levels in this region and helped in improving the health conditions of this and other communities. In addition, community-based projects and education programs have increased the understanding among local communities that tribalism and ethnic-based politics are evils that limit development (Njenga 2013).
Therefore, they embrace peace promotion initiatives to ensure they live in harmony without paying attention to their ethnic backgrounds and this has reduced instances of tribal clashes. Lastly, the introduction of free primary school education and medical services has ensured that communities share social amenities like schools and health care facilities (Njenga 2013).
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This has promoted integration between them and ensured they understand and appreciate their diversity in developing their country. Therefore, foreign aid has helped Kenyan communities to reduce poverty by establishing projects that generate income for them. It has promoted peace by ensuring different communities work together in promoting education, health, and the environment. Therefore, people focus on the positive aspects that their differences can achieve and not the negative issues associated with ethnicity and politics.
African Development Foundation. (2011). USADF Launches Turkana Food Security Program: USADF and Government of the Republic of Kenya Sign Bilateral Agreement to Start Economic Development Activities in Turkana. Web.
Gettleman, J. (2007). Disputed Vote Plunges Kenya Into Bloodshed. Web.
National Cohesion and Integration Commission. (2013). Message from Hassan. S. Mohamed, OGW: Commission Secretary, CEO-National Cohesion and Integration Cohesion. Web.
Njenga, E. (2013). The Impacts of Foreign Aid on Economic Development in Kenya. Web.
Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission. (2010). TJRC Meets Regional Commissioner South Coast. Web.