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Christian Aid in Kenya

Kenya has a population of 40 million people and has the biggest economy in eastern Africa.

The country's weather patterns are erratic with vast regions of arid and semi-arid land, yet three quarters of the population are dependent on agriculture.

According to official figures, of the 16 million unemployed Kenyans, 80% are young people.

Despite the economy's growth in recent years - with a dip in the aftermath of the post-election violence in 2007/08 - its impact on poverty reduction has been far from significant. Rather, it is aggravating inequality.

Kenya is among the top 10 most unequal societies in the world, with the richest 10% owning more than 40% of the land and resources, and the poorest 10% a mere 1%.

A quarter of the population lives on US$1 a day and two thirds on less than US$2.

The majority of people in Kenya’s cities live in informal settlements or slums, with poor access to basic services like water and sanitation, schools and healthcare. 

Power

There is an unequal distribution of political, social and economic power in Kenya as a result of the strong link between wealth accumulation and the state since gaining independence.

Despite the unchanging political context and the power struggle between different elite groups, Kenyan citizens have achieved far-reaching civil and political rights.

The new Kenyan constitution allows people to participate in political processes and upholds the rights of all Kenyans to healthcare, housing, sanitation, food, safe water, social security and education.

Tax and governance

Kenya has the highest tax expenditure in the region, but exemptions for business elites and incentives to foreign investors, which have few economic and social benefits, cost the country more than $1 billion each year.

Tax evasion and avoidance, corruption, and misuse of public funds are a huge drain on resources.

Health

Good health is essential for development, but maternal and child mortality rates are high in Kenya, as are communicable and preventable diseases such as malaria, HIV and tuberculosis, particularly among women and children.

Malnutrition and diseases caused by poor sanitation and hygiene practices make the situation worse. Many people do not have access to adequate health services.

Climate change

Kenya is vulnerable to disasters that cause massive displacements and human suffering.

Droughts and intermittent floods are becoming more frequent and increasingly severe. With each drought, pastoralists and smallholder farmers lose a large percentage of their assets.

The increasing scarcity of resources – including food and water – leads to more conflicts between communities, which hampers long-term development.

Christian Aid Kenya’s vision is of a fair, resilient and thriving society in which all citizens are able to lead a decent, dignified life.

We work with our partners to empower people to hold government to account and to understand and claim their rights.

Our work with communities is underpinned by advocacy – around health, corruption and tax evasion and resilient livelihoods – at grassroots and national level which seeks to challenge and change the systems and structures that keep people poor.

Further content

  • Happy, healthy and living with HIV: Alice Awino no longer views being HIV-positive as a death sentence.
  • Rogers Ochieng Otieno is a volunteer community health worker with the Rural Transport Network, run by Christian Aid and Virgin Unite. Find out how he travels far from home to deliver hope and transform lives in remote communities with this interactive map.
  • Kenya's 2007 presidential election was followed by a period of violence. During elections in 2013, Christian Aid partners monitored the situation in potential hotspots.
  • Tax in Kenya: 'The price of civilisation' : listen to Alvin Mosioma, director of the Tax Justice Network, Africa, about how tax could lift millions of Kenyans out of a cycle of poverty and hunger.
  • Rooting for Resilience: Christian Aid and Ukamba Christian Community Services, supported by the UK government, are helping communities in Makueni County, Kenya, to become resilient to drought, develop profitable flourishing livelihoods and reduce conflict.