Today’s release of the latest quarterly “barometer” of public opinion from Ipsos Kenya indicates two cross-cutting themes in how Kenyans see public affairs.
First, since November, public confidence has declined in essentially all major institutions, from already generally low levels. Conspicuously, in a measure of progress of reforms under the new constitution, only 12% of Kenyans expressed “a lot” of confidence in the judiciary versus 19% who had “none”. For the police, 11% had “a lot” of confidence versus 29% who had “none”.
Second, the cost of living remains the most important issue to far and away the largest percentage (50%) of Kenyans. This has been the case for years, and the lack of focus on this issue in the Kenyan and international media, in Kenyan politics and government, and in international policy discussions may well give insight into why Kenyans have little confidence in their institutions. Unemployment (19%) and corruption (9%) are second and third in the “most important issue” question.
Worth noting: Oxford’s Dr. Nicholas Cheeseman offers a critique of ODM’s slide to it’s current low ebb. The latest poll indicates a wide field for a strong opposition party, with continued economic stress facing most Kenyans and little satisfaction with the institutions in power, but ODM will need to find a coherent message and credible voice to rebuild its stature. The Standard editorializes that “Chaos in ODM is a matter of national concern.” The Star says “Time for ODM to Re-Invent Itself.”
Also of interest: Andrew Sullivan asks “Why Doesn’t USAID Win Any Friends?”. Sullivan cites a Reuters piece by Paul A. Brinkley entitled “How to fix foreign aid”:
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The first step is to end the State Department’s management of foreign assistance, and return to an earlier organizational system in Washington.
The Foreign Service plays a crucial role in the establishment and implementation of U.S. foreign policy. But diplomats are not program executors. The culture of diplomacy, so crucial to negotiation and resolution of conflict, is completely wrong for managing economic development programs. Much less the tactical business development necessary for economic growth.
The primary instrument for implementing foreign assistance, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), was moved into the State Department in 2005 — in a misguided effort to better align its programs with security and counterterrorism policies. The verdict is now in on this transition. USAID is not effective in carrying out its principal mission: delivering cost-effective outcomes that advance U.S. foreign policy goals.
. . . .
The priority of the State Department — from staffing, to allocation of resources, to a forbidding security posture that inhibits local engagement of war-torn populations — is to fulfill a diplomatic mission. Not to run foreign assistance programs. Realigning organizations, like this move of USAID into State’s sphere, is a poor means of carrying out presidential policy.