Both free enterprise and a measure of political debate helped make Kenya one of Africa's most stable nations after it achieved independence from Britain in 1963. But, more recently, corruption has been an undermining force, and the government—pressured for reform—moved to a multiparty system in the late 1990s. Barriers to progress are high population growth, electricity shortages, and inefficiency in key sectors. Political instability has also damaged Kenya’s once highly profitable tourism industry.
Kenya’s main industry is agriculture. They export high quantities of tea, coffee, corn, wheat and dairy products and fish. However, prices for agricultural exports such as tea and coffee have fallen in recent years. Forty ethnic groups, including Kikuyu farmers and Maasai cattle herders, crowd the countryside, still home to three-quarters of Kenya's people. Intense competition for arable land drives thousands to cities, where unemployment is high. In Nairobi, East Africa's commercial hub, skyscrapers abruptly give way to slums.
Kenyan laws require that all children attend primary school. Due to the poverty levels and lack of government infrastructure there are few schools in many communities, and many that exist do not provide a quality education. It can be expensive to attend a “free” school due to the cost of uniforms, supplies and in many cases boarding facilities. A majority of children live in extremely rural and impoverished areas, where the hope of attending school is a distant dream to even the most academically gifted children.
Children (below 18 years) make up 62% of Kenya’s population. There are an estimated 1 million child labourers between seven and fourteen years of age. Of these, about 60,000 are reported to work in the streets.
Kenya has a diverse landscape and has endured prolonged droughts in recent years leaving millions in need of food aid. Flooding also poses a serious threat to rural communities as climate change continues to takes hold. All these problems are nationwide but they affect those living in poverty the most.
Education and child sponsorship
Mary Koikei, Ntuka Primary School, Narok. ActionAid built 8 new classrooms in Mary's school and installed a water pump. The children used to walk 2 hours a day to collect dirty water. Wild animals were using the river, the children were often very sick as a result. Mary explains
My life has been transformed, I am being educated, I am have lots of knowledge - It has changed my life. I am ActionAid!
The main focus of the women’s programme is to reduce the incidence of violence against women and girls at community level, prevent early girl marriage and female genital mutilation(FGM) and increase access to information and services for women living with HIV and AIDS Programme staff work closely with community groups to achieve this end. In Kenya 9.3 million women and girls have undergone FGM. We receive support with these initiatives from Irish Aid - through programmes and funding. Irish Aid also help fund advocacy work to push for women's rights-related bills to be passed into law.
Support for Women living with HIV and AIDS
Kenya has a high level of people living with HIV and AIDS. ActionAid campaigns for better access to antiretroviral drugs for those who cannot afford it, and helps women and children affected by HIV/AIDS to support themselves.