A national population-based assessment of 2007-2008 election-related violence in Kenya

Kirsten Johnson, Jennifer Scott, Treny Sasyniuk, David Ndetei, Michael Kisielewski, Shada Rouhani, Susan Bartels, Victoria Mutiso, Anne Mbwayo, David Rae, Lynn Lawry*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: Following the contested national elections in 2007, violence occurred throughout Kenya. The objective of this study was to assess the prevalence, characteristics, and health consequences of the 2007-2008 election-related violence. Methods. A cross-sectional, national, population-based cluster survey of 956 Kenyan adults aged ≥ 18 years was conducted in Kenya in September 2011 utilizing a two-stage 90 x 10 cluster sample design and structured interviews and questionnaires. Prevalence of all forms of violence surrounding the 2007 election period, symptoms of major depressive disorder (MDD) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and morbidity related to sexual and physical violence were assessed. Results: Of 956 households surveyed, 916 households participated (response rate 95.8%). Compared to pre-election, election-related sexual violence incidents/1000 persons/year increased over 60-fold (39.1-2370.1; p <.001) with a concurrent 37-fold increase in opportunistic sexual violence (5.2-183.1; p <.001). Physical and other human rights violations increased 80-fold (25.0-1987.1; p <.001) compared to pre-election. Overall, 50% of households reported at least one physical or sexual violation. Households reporting violence were more likely to report violence among female household members (66.6% vs. 58.1%; p =.04) or among the Luhya ethnic group (17.0% vs. 13.8%; p = 0.03). The most common perpetrators of election-related sexual violence were reported to be affiliated with government or political groups (1670.5 incidents/1000 persons per year); the Kalenjin ethnic group for physical violations (54.6%). Over thirty percent of respondents met MDD and PTSD symptom criteria; however, symptoms of MDD (females, 63.3%; males, 36.7%; p =.01) and suicidal ideation (females, 68.5%; males, 31.5%; p =.04) were more common among females. Substance abuse was more common among males (males, 71.2%; females, 28.8%; p <.001). Conclusion: On a national level in Kenya, politically-motivated and opportunistic sexual and physical violations were commonly reported among sampled adults with associated health and mental health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2
JournalConflict and Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 18 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Election violence
  • Human rights violations
  • Kenya 2007 elections
  • Mental health
  • Politically-motivated sexual violence


Dive into the research topics of 'A national population-based assessment of 2007-2008 election-related violence in Kenya'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this