What you need to know:
- The UNDP can do small projects around development, but nowhere in the world has it ever overhauled a whole sector of health.
- Sid responded he understood corruption because he is from India — which is beside the point — and that technology was the answer.
Despite its massive support from the West, the Jubilee regime’s proclivity for corruption is hampering its 'Big Four' Agenda.
Incidentally, this agenda has had no public participation or consultation; it was purely an edict from the top, part of the strong man approach that President Barack Obama derided in his speech to the African Union in 2015.
So it now seems to be turning to other institutions to front its efforts at fundraising.
These include the United Nations Development Program’s Kenya office, which is fronting the Universal Healthcare agenda as its own, as I unexpectedly learned, using the SDGs as a hook.
A few weeks ago, I heard there would be a meeting at Stanford University that would be addressed by my friend Siddharth Chatterjee, who is both the UN Resident Coordinator in Kenya, and the UNDP Resident Representative.
As I was around Stanford I decided to surprise him. I found he was accompanied by two other people, including his colleague from UNDP-Kenya.
The meeting had academics — from health, economics and Africanists — as well as potential investors.
As always, Sid gave a rousing presentation on universal healthcare and how it was possible to achieve it in five years.
He reached back to his previous job as UN Population Fund’s Representative where he worked with some counties to reduce maternal deaths in northern Kenya, rattling off statistics such as 15 per cent of the counties contribute 98 per cent of all maternal deaths.
He also told a story of getting tribal leaders in Somaliland to get children inoculated, stating he is interested in results not processes.
It was a presentation aimed at leaving no doubt that universal healthcare — though ostensibly part of Jubilee’s Big Four Agenda — was UNDP’s brainchild and project, and Sid was making a sales pitch to Stanford University academics and investors to partner with UNDP in a Public-Private Partnership that would benefit them financially and in other ways.
He was slated to attend the African Diaspora conference later that week in California and then jet out to New York and the east coast for similar events.
I asked about the sustainability of this process given its international and foreign focus, with little Kenyan participation or ownership.
The presentation made out that counties and Kenyans were merely recipients rather than the participants envisaged by the Constitution; without public ownership whatever results achieved would be short-term.
Unspoken, was the incredulity that the UNDP — one of the most inefficient UN bodies — would even consider undertaking such a momentous task as universal healthcare.
The UNDP can do small projects around development, but nowhere in the world has it ever overhauled a whole sector of health, education or anything!
One of the professors expressed similar apprehension reminding us that twice Kenya has undertaken universal primary education and twice it has become unstuck and then left it to donors to take over.
He asked if any lessons from those experiences were guiding UNDP in this new effort, for no country has ever achieved donor driven universal healthcare or education.
Sid’s response was that the Jubilee regime was on board and that Kenya could be a leader on universal healthcare in Africa.
I also asked how they planned to deal with corruption given Jubilee’s unprecedented propensity to loot, including the infamous Mafya House scandal.
Sid responded he understood corruption because he is from India — which is beside the point — and that technology was the answer.
I immediately remembered the IFMIS technology that was central to the NYS looting!
Universal healthcare is a noble goal. But if it is to be handled by UNDP — apparently fronting for a predatory regime — then it is a lost cause.
Surprisingly, there was no mention of the Human Rights Based Approach to development, which is big in UN rhetoric, in any form or shape.
Most fascinating, the third member of the delegation was Ms Nyokabi Kenyatta Muthama, representing the private sector, and clearly on the trip to show Jubilee’s commitment to this cause.
For those of us with shorter memories, it bears repeating that she was a recipient of a major supplies tender from Afya House reserved for marginalised women.