Economic Development Term Paper

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Kenya: A Case Study in Reform

From its rough beginnings, Kenya has instituted a series of economic reforms in an attempt to raise the condition of the Kenyan people. They are an attempt to bring the Kenyan people out of a state of poverty and repression to one of stability and security about their ability to sustain themselves. Each reform has been better than the last, but they are still far from solving these issues in their country. This paper will cite the reasons for this as being a need for the people to regain the feeling of nationalism echoed in the early years of independence.

Kenya's History:

Prior to1800 Kenya consisted of groups of small tribal governments. Kenya is grouped into more than 70 ethnic groups, Some of the ethnic tribes are large e.g. The Agikuyu who form a majority of the population within their homeland in the central province and can also be seen to be in large numbers in the other districts in Kenya. In the1800s the Christian missionaries and explorers come to Kenya in large numbers and established rule over the Kenyan people. [Africa Guide, 1997].

In 1952 Kenya experienced and agrarian revolution. In 1963 Kenya gained independence. Kenya became a republic in 1964. The first president of Kenya was Mzee Jomo who was elected in 1978. In 1992, he passed away and Daniel arap Moi became president. In 1992, Kenya became a multi-party state. [Africa Guide, 1997]

The Mau Mau Movement began among the Gikuyu in the 1940s. All Kenyan people at that time shared the same grievances of land shortages. Many farms in Gikuyu had been taken for European settlement. [Africa Guide, 1997]

Since the end of the Second World War in 1945, Africans had been presenting these grievances to the colonial government in Nairobi and the government in London. Under the leadership of Jomo Kenyatta, the Kenya African Union (KAU) had become a national party with wide support from the people. They continued to issue grievances, which went unheeded by the colonial government. The white settlers, at the same time, were pressing Britain for independence under white minority rule. [Africa Guide, 1997]

This situation had been documented from the early 1920s and did not change. In the 1940s the situation became explosive. The Mau Mau movement came about when certain tribal members swore allegiance to the Mau Mau movement. The Mau Mau movement had several important effects. The British learned that the African people would not tolerate govern by the British and were committed and that rule could not be maintained except under massive military force. It also brought the problems of Kenya to the attention of the world. [Africa Guide, 1997]

Kenyan Independence

Independence became a reality for Kenya on December 12, 1963. The African people believed, perhaps unrealistically, that independence from British rule would solve all of their problems. The British feared an African government bent on retribution for decades of past wrongs. Mzee Jomo knew that raising the standard of living under British rule would be a long, hard road. Mzee Jomo launched a great campaign to unite the Kenyan workers to work together in an effort to raise up their status as a unit and lighten the load on everyone. Mzee Jomo knew that there were three major obstacles to development in Kenya, poverty, disease, and ignorance. Kanu (the new government) come up with a series of objectives to accomplish in order to build a just, democratic African socialist country. They included political equality, social justice, human dignity, freedom from want and disease, equal opportunities, and high and growing incomes to be distributed equitably. [Africa Guide, 1997]

At independence, Kenyan leaders opted to adapt five-year development plans. At the end of each term, the planners would go through it to see if the needs were fulfilled or if they were overtaken by other events on domestic or international levels. [Africa Guide, 1997]

Mzee Jomo died suddenly in 1978. With security in place and no regional disturbances, the constitutional provisions laid down for succession of power went smoothly. Elections for a new president of KANU (Kenya African National Union) were held as quickly as possible and Moi the Vice President then took over as the new president. Moi inherited a fledgling socialist democracy full of hope, but in reality conditions were not a good as they had hoped in the beginning. The country was poor and public institutions were corrupt and not able to perform the job that they were supposed to do. [Africa Guide, 1997]

The Need for Reform

Moi had to do something to keep this young country from plunging into ruin. Moi first took performed a study to determine exactly what conditions were like in the country. At this time it was found that human development indices including life expectancy, nutrition, status, and education levels were deteriorating. Growth had come to a halt, and per capita income was falling. The country was headed for disaster.

Perhaps the best single measure of living standards is real private consumption per capita. This peaked in 1978 and then began a steady fall. The decline appears to have been fairly steady: These falls in average living standards reflect a failure to keep up with the rise in population, which increased by 74% during the period [World Bank, 1998].

In 1966, the Kenyan education system was changed from eight years ("Standards") of primary1education to seven years. Kenya experienced a dramatic fall in urban real wages during the same period. This contradicts the predictions of some of the models of the early 1970s inspired by Kenyan labor markets, which posted urban real wage to be rigid downwards [Harris and Todaro, 1970]. It seems as if studies were skewed to favor the new economic reforms and cannot be relied upon for data. Statistics show a decrease in poverty, however, this is debatable.

Moi adopted a new policy called the Fourth Development Plant 1979/1983. The Fourth Development Plan set the stage for Kenyan economic growth and society. The theme was "alleviation of poverty." The strategy for the attack on poverty is the meeting of the 'basic needs'. The creation of income-earning opportunities and the provision of education, reasonable housing, water supplies, and a rural development infrastructure were the priorities. [Africa Guide, 1997]. It was expected that this plan would increase the GDP per capita, as well as give the Kenyan people the opportunity to increase exports. The fourth development plan was intended to lace land ownership back in the hands of the Kenyan people and raise their sense fo pride. The fourth development plan was targeted primarily at agriculture and the development of manufacturing, in this way the Kenyan would be able to provide for themselves and their families, as well as contribute to society as s whole. The principle philosophy was that raising the level of the individual would raise Kenyan society as a whole.

The plan had other 'hard option' objectives. It is recognized that easy forms of development in agriculture and industry were coming to an end. Redistribution of previously owned land must had to be followed by more intensive farming techniques including higher inputs, and greater use of marginal land.

In July 1983, the District Focus for Rural Development (DFRD) was formed. This allowed the implementation of development plans in all the districts of Kenya. Planning and action for the country's development was moved from Nairobi to the district level hence bringing it closer to the people. [Africa Guide, 1997]

The Need for Another Reform

After the 1991 elections, Post Election Action Programme (PEAP) was adopted to take advantage of the changes called for with the introduction of a multi-party governmental system in Kenya. Agenda 94 was published and the present volume, Our Problems: Our Solutions was the third in a sequence of publication produced by the Institute of Economic Affairs Publications. [Gatheru, 1998]

Many were enthusiastic about the change that was possible after the 1992 elections, however many of these expectations were unrealistic. Kenya in 1998 was in worse shape than it was in 1992 and 1994. However, the feeling of empowerment has caused Kenyans to feel bolder than they did in 1992. [Gatheru, 1998]

The constitution of Kenya was founded on the principles of individual worth, autonomy, a commitment to individual property rights in order to create a market economy. The Bill of Rights divided and defined the powers of the government. The powers consisted of a judiciary, executive branch and legislature. [Gatheru, 1998] Thirty-four years after its creation, the constitution had changed greatly.

The measure of good government goes along with efficient public sector management and development, and sustainable human development. To be in place, it calls for the peoples' involvement. It also calls for equal opportunity for all, political accountability and a commitment by rulers and the ruled, bureaucratic trust and access to information. [Africa Guide, 1997]

For a constitution to be effective it must fully take into account the desires, the fears and the aspirations of…[continue]

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