SUNY/CID Welcomes High-Level Kenyan Delegation to the National Conference of State Legislatures Legislative Summit in Atlanta, Georgia
From August 11-16, 2013, SUNY/CID supported representatives of key Kenyan government partner organizations to its Parliamentary Support Project (PSP) to participate in the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Annual Legislative Summit in Atlanta, Georgia. The delegation was led by the Speaker of the Kenyan Senate.
The PSP, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.K Department for International Development (DfID), sponsored participation at the Legislative Summit to further build upon several program objectives such as enhancement of the institutional capacity of the Senate in the new bicameral Parliament (including its oversight of matters involving new county government structures); improvement of coordination of the work of the two houses of a bicameral legislature; exposure to programs and methods for strengthening parliamentary staff training and development; empowerment of members and staff of the new county assemblies in Kenya; and ways of enhancing constituency outreach by both the Parliament and the new county assemblies.
The high level delegation from Kenya included the Speaker of the Senate of Kenya, Hon. Ekwee Ethuro; the National Assembly Majority Leader, Hon. Aden Duale; the National Assembly Minority Leader, Hon. Francis Nyenze; Hon. Jessica Mbalu, Member of the National Assembly's Chairpersons Panel; Hon. Benjamin Langat, Chairman of the Finance Committee of the National Assembly; Hon. Ann Adul of the Kisumu County Assembly; and Hon. Stephen Ngelu of the Makueni County Assembly; the Clerk of Senate, Mr. Jeremiah Nyegenye; the Senior Deputy Clerk of the National Assembly, Mr. Michael Sialai; the Director of the Parliamentary Budget Office, Mrs. Phyllis Makau; the Director of the Centre for Parliamentary Studies and Training, Prof. Nyokabi Kamau; the Director of the Senate Speaker’s Office, Mr. Mohamed Ali; the Director of Legal Services in the Senate, Ms. Eunice Gichangi; the Hansard Editor in the Senate, Gladys Ndeda; the Deputy Director, Legislative and Procedure of the National Assembly, Mr. Samuel Njoroge; and the Principal Research Officer at the Centre for Parliamentary Studies and Training, Dr. Martin Mbewa. They were accompanied by SUNY/CID’s Director, Malcolm Russell-Einhorn; Senior Project Manager, Toby Cole and Project Administrator, Heather Senecal as well as the PSP’s Chief of Party, Mr. Francis Aywa and Senior Program Officer, Brenda Ogembo.
The composition of the delegation was reflective of the new governance framework in the country under the new 2010 Constitution, which created a bicameral legislature and sub-national legislatures for 47 county governments. In March 2013, Kenyan citizens went to the polls for the first time under that new Constitution to elect the President, Members of the National Assembly, Senators, County Assembly Members, and Governors.
In welcoming the delegation to Atlanta, the SUNY/CID Director, Malcolm Russell-Einhorn, commended them for their work thus far in implementing the exceedingly challenging work of implementing the transformative 2010 Constitution. While there is still much to do in this regard and daunting coordination and timing demands in this implementation process, particularly in the devolution arena, the Director urged the delegates to take a welcome break from those demands and to use the Summit as an opportunity for both thoughtful reflection and learning—a chance to meet with colleagues from around the work and learn, share ideas, and network with counterparts. The Speaker of the Kenya Senate, Hon. Ekwee Ethuro, echoed the Director's comments and urged his Kenyan colleagues to take home new information and ideas for advancing legislative development in Kenya.
In addition to attending sessions ranging from the running of effective committee meetings to the creative uses of mobile phone technology in legislatures, Kenyan delegates and SUNY/CID staff had an opportunity to interact with attendees not only from the U.S., but members and staff from over 25 other countries, including those from Ghana, South Africa, Uganda, Nigeria, Canada, and Germany. There were also special meetings with officials from the New York Senate, Florida Senate, and Wisconsin State Legislature, as well as senior NCSL staff who provided background information on the origins, governance, and operations of the organization.
Over the four-day event, delegates particularly found interesting the sessions that variously addressed voting rights and election issues; health care policy; civic education; data mining; and issues facing women in legislatures. One of the highlights of the program was the opportunity Kenya delegates had to attend professional association meetings within the larger program that served clerks, legal officers, and staff leadership and budget officers.
This year’s Summit theme was Build Strong States, and it resonated strongly among the delegation members. Expectations for devolved government in Kenya are very high and delegates used the opportunity of the NCSL Legislative Summit to interact with peers and colleagues around the world to learn and to share experiences on how to build strong legislative institutions as a critical dimension of building strong and accountable states.
Posted August 29, 2013