Aid groups are on standby as Kenyans head to the polls today to elect a new president. Eight humanitarian hubs have been set up across the country in anticipation of possible violence.
Agencies such as the International Organization for Migration have prepositioned relief items and mapped out political hot spots as part of a contingency plan spearheaded by Kenya’s National Disaster Operations Center. Planning started as early as April last year.
What happened in 2007 taught aid groups lessons on preparedness for post-election crisis. According to Concern Worldwide’s Ivy Ndiewo, the 2007-2008 post-election violence, which killed more than 1,000 people, caught the humanitarian community “off-guard.” Concern is among the aid agencies tasked to run the humanitarian hubs.
“As a humanitarian community we stand prepared, but we welcome an outcome that would require us to put none of our plans into action,” Ndiewo wrote in a blog ahead of the elections. “The memory of 2008 is still very much on the surface for all of us. I just hope that it stays as a memory and does not spill over into reality.”
Hours before polling started, several policemen were ambushed in Mombasa, a popular tourist spot and considered Kenya’s second largest city, Agence France-Presse reports.
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