David Zarembka, AGLI Coordinator
2010, Kenyans overwhelming approved a new constitution. While there
were many changes including enhanced rights for women, the biggest change,
as I mentioned before, was that the nine provinces were divided into
forty-seven counties which will have control over local issues. This
“devolved government” will be led by an elected governor
and a county-wide legislature.
for citizens to understand these changes, FCPT/AGLI conducted seventy-two
one-day seminars for 4,500 participants plus thirteen shorter, informal
seminars in churches and government meetings for about 1,500 people.
The objective of these seminars is based on the philosophy that, if
people know and understand the political process and are willing to
participate in it, they are less likely to resort to violence to redress
The seminar covers four main topics: (1) the electoral process, (2)
the leadership and integrity requirements according to the new constitution,
(3) the Bill of Rights, and (4) the new devolved governmental system.
The boundaries of the 47 new counties were drawn along ethnic and clan
lines in many parts of the country, leading to minority groups with
no possibility of winning electoral office with tribal based voting
patterns. The government itself has determined that 27 of the new counties
have potential for ethnic violence.
found that, on the one hand, citizens know very little about the new
constitution, but, on the other hand, they are eager to learn. Most
of the seminars had between 40 and 80 participants. People did not want
to end the seminar when it was time for the facilitators to return home.
This was in spite of the fact that only the soda/bread lunch was served
for the day-long seminar.
for the upcoming election was disappointing and well under the goal
set by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). Eighteen
million voters were expected to enroll, but only 14.3 million voters
or 79% of the expected number enrolled. As can be seen below in the
chart, on Mt. Elgon those locations where we did civic education seminars
had 8.67% higher registration of voters than those where we did not
conduct civic education seminars. This is one of the positive results
of our work.
on Civic Education on Mt. Elgon
FCPT/AGLI conducted civic education workshops in three of the six
locations (smallest government unit in Kenya), but did not conduct
them in remaining three.
with civic education:
of registered voters
without civic education:
of registered voters
had success in voter registration in Turbo constituency where we have
been working for the last few years. Registration there was 91.6% of
the estimate. The closest neighboring constituency, Soy, registered
only 67.7% and Lugari constituency where I live, north of the road to
Uganda, recorded 74.1% of the targeted number of voters. Turbo constituency
averaged 20.7% more than those two adjoining ones.
claim credit for this success? Getry Agizah, the FCPT coordinator, thinks
so. Of course, the kind of work we do is not like drilling for oil,
where, when you reach oil, it comes gushing out and you can claim success.
While during the 2007 election and post election violence, the youth
in Turbo division spearheaded the violence, now, Getry says, “They
are interested, even excited by the election. While they did not register
well in 2007, they have this time. If you reach out to the youth, they