Parliamentary Strengthening Program II
What is the Parliamentary Strengthening Program II?
The Parliamentary Strengthening Program’s main objective is to improve Kenya’s Parliament’s effectiveness in producing legislation, acting as an oversight institution, and carrying out its representation functions in a more democratic, transparent, and effective manner.
Project Duration and Budget
April 2010 – March 2014
Who implements the Parliamentary Strengthening Program II?
The State University of New York
Where does the Parliamentary Strengthening Program II work?
What does the Parliamentary Strengthening Program II do?
The program’s approach is to provide technical assistance and legislative/legal and policy analysis while strengthening the Parliament’s institutional capacity through collaborative planning, and implementation and support
for the parliamentary service departments.
Activities fall into six main streams: support to committees; support to the Parliamentary Service Committee and Departments; support to the Office of the Speaker; support to selected caucuses such as the Kenya Women Parliamentary Caucus, the Inter-Party Reform Caucus the Caucus on the Fight Against Corruption, and the Constituency Development Fund Caucus; support for parliamentary engagement with civil society organizations through a small grants program; and support for Parliament’s representational function and oversight of service delivery.
How is the Parliamentary Strengthening Program II making a difference?
Approximately 800 legislators and members of their staff have participated in trainings and educational events. The outcomes of these trainings are impressive: standing orders now guide how the Parliament operates in compliance with the new constitution, including processes that make the body more accountable and effective; committees have annual work plans and tracking tools to assist them with workflow; and, the Speaker’s Office, oversight committees, the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association, and Caucus on the Fight Against Corruption have reform agendas.
In 2011 Parliament passed 31 bills, reflecting a laudable increase over the ten bills passed in 2010.
Enhanced collaboration and consultation between Committees and civil society is evident--increasingly, committees are calling expert witnesses, collaborating with community based organizations to develop legislation or oversight tools, and conducting visits and hearings outside of Nairobi. Detailed committee schedules are now posted on Parliament’s website with an indication of which meetings the public may attend.
The Legal Counsel’s Office developed professional and ethical standards for the conduct of Parliamentary Counsels, and organized a major regional conference where legal counsels from 13 African countries signed the Nairobi Principles, which Kenya’s Parliament has since adopted. To enhance transparency and accountability, an Electronic Voting System has been installed in Parliament that will help track and record members’ votes.
What key challenges does Parliamentary Strengthening Program II face?
The 2010 Constitution calls for a host of Parliamentary reforms, requiring the legislative body to adjust its structures, procedures and lawmaking activities.
Passing the constitutionally mandated transitional legislation meant that Parliament had to quickly deliberate 23 complex and urgent bills to realign Kenya’s legal and governance landscape (in addition to other legislation). The Constitutional transition also required significant preparations for the anticipated bi-cameral parliament. Both houses of parliament will require new rules, staff, procedures and facilities. Supporting these major changes has been a major focus of the program’s work.
Parliamentary Strengthening Program II in action
The Kenya Women Parliamentary Association is an all-party caucus of women members of Kenya’s National Assembly. The association is changing the way Kenya’s legislature conducts its budget analysis. Their goal is to improve the socio-economic conditions and address the root causes of poverty among women and children, whose daily lives are disproportionally affected by low incomes and poor living conditions.
Kenya’s 2010 Constitution calls for the promotion of an equitable society and requires that government expenditures reflect this principle. Previous budgets in Kenya have not considered the impact of taxation and spending on both men and women and how policies can either increase or exacerbate inequality. Instead, past budgets have tended to marginalize women and children through token allocations.With a grant provided by the USAID-funded Parliamentary Support Program, the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association has developed Gender Responsive Budgeting Guidelines to address these deficits. The Guidelines assist Members of Parliament to analyze the potential impact of national budget allocations in ways that affect men and women’s quality of life. The women members worked with other members of Parliament and the Parliamentary Budget Office to apply Gender Responsive Budgeting guidelines to Kenya’s 2012/13 annual budget policy statement. They secured support for the consideration of gender provisions in upcoming budget debates.
Gender Responsive Budgeting analysis identified the need to fund cancer screenings to prevent diseases severely affecting women’s health. As a result, an additional $3.5 million was allocated to the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation to procure cancer screening equipment.
Kenya’s new Constitution endows Parliament with strong budget making powers. The Kenya Women Parliamentary Association’s efforts are helping to ensure that Parliament has the instruments it needs to allocate budget resources in accordance with the new Constitution’s vision for gender equity. The Gender Responsive Budgeting Guidelines are just one of four mechanisms for external oversight of public resource use that has been supported with U.S. Government assistance.
For more information
John Smith-Sreen, Director
Office of Democracy, Rights and Governance, USAID/Kenya
Tel: +254 (0)20 862 2000
Sheila Karani, Project Manager, USAID Kenya
Office of Democracy, Rights, and Governance
Tel: +254 (0) 20 862 2000
Francis Angila, Chief of Party
State University of New York, Parliamentary Strengthening Program
Tel: +254 (0)72 436 5617