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Diplomacy in Action

Video: Kenyan Elections and Preventing Violence

Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations
February 8, 2013


Assistant Secretary Barton: Let me talk for a second maybe about the Kenya experience. This might be a slightly longer answer but I think it's probably worth telling the story. In Kenya, almost everybody that you talk to is most concerned about the violence that the last election generated, returning. But when you ask people are you doing everything that you could be doing to help prevent that most people say no. What we are able to do is to, using our sort of contacts in the Kenyan community to bring together a number of organizations that otherwise would not be working on this issue of election related violence. And to say to them what would you need to mobilize your existing networks to help address kind of an early warning system that would help the police but also to improve the quality of information that the voters are getting. And what they all said was I may only be in charge of horticulture here in the Rift valley but I have a network of 4000 people. I may only be doing AIDS but we talk to 200,000 households a week and what I would need to mobilize those networks is perhaps a single additional Kenyan staff person whose job would be to 24/7 to work on the election related violence issue. So what we have done is we've helped make it possible for 50 or so Kenyans to join existing Kenyan organizations so they are concentrating some of their resources and talent on this largest issues facing the country. That's the kind of example that we would like to look at. There's something that's already there. It doesn't need a foreigner to come and run the place for them. They just need a little more capability so the default position is a win as opposed to a loss.

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