Kenya Village Life

Kenya Rural Boys Working

It is all too easy to equate village life in places like Kenya with some form of spiritualism but, in reality, in many respects village life in Kenya is very much like village life anywhere in the world in terms of routines. Get out of bed, eat breakfast, school, work or household chores, lunch, school, work or household chores then a period of relaxing and play for the kids maybe football, handball or with home made toys, then evening meal and later bed. There are of course differences such as the ease with which this routine is carried out. Getting washed and preparing food is more challenging in a village in Kenya as there are no taps for running water with many living in a village having to walk 3-4 hours a day to collect this water from shallow wells to meet their daily needs, however some villages have a communal standpipe for water that's collected in buckets sometimes carried using one of the children's playcarts.

Most can't pop upstairs to go to the toilet rather having to share a communal one, often a hole in the ground with other villagers which has implications for health, particularly that of children, with waterborne diseases rife. Other common illnesses include malaria and HIV/AIDS. (It is estimated that due to disease in some villages in Kenya 25% of all children are orphans with another 25% living with a single parent carer.) Making hot meals isn't simply a matter of turning the oven on as only around 10% of rural Kenyans have access to electricity. Instead, as the kitchen area of the home (which is normally constructed of wood then finished off with mud) doesn't actually have a stove, cooking is undertaken with charcoal or paraffin over stones on the bare floor, with the resulting smoke permeating the entire home, even with the windows (or rather shutters) open. Food itself isn't available in supermarkets so the staple diet is often meat stew when available supplemented by hoards of rice and bread. Other popular meals include Ugali which is maize boiled in water to a thick porridge like consistency and then poured out onto a board or plate for everyone to dip into. Sukuma wiki, a dish of sweet potato or pumpkin leaves and for better off families Nyama choma which is roasted goat or mutton meat. Additional foodstuff are bought and sold at a weekly or sometimes bi-weekly market.

Kenya Village School

After breakfast and undertaking chores, the children will set off for school (above), often in overcrowded classrooms. However many village schools are rudimentary with desks, chairs blackboards and pencils but no real equipment nor electricity. Children will attend this village primary school until they are 13-14yrs old before taking the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education which informs whether they should attend high school or go onto training. However the reality is that most children will drop-out of education at this stage for, whilst primary schooling is free, high school is not and it's beyond the financial reach of many Kenyan villagers costing as much as the equivalent of nine month's income every year; as such, only 1 in 10 will complete 8th grade. Boys who drop out will go out to work with their fathers whilst some girls are married off as young as 12-14yrs to reduce the family burden. 68.9% of the Kenyan population live in rural areas (2020) and, although poverty has declined from 46.8% in 2005/06 to 36.1% in 2015/16 according to the 17th edition of the Kenya Economic Update, levels are higher in rural communities.

Rather than subsistence farming as in many African countries, in many areas Kenyan village men engage in the pastoral farming of cattle, sheep, and goats particularly in the more arid regions where camels are also raised. These animals help with transportation as well as providing milk, blood, meat and wool/hair for clothes making and, in parts of Kenya, the number of animals you own is considered more important than land ownership. Approximately 1.3 million people in Kenya are currently facing levels of acute food insecurity, representing a decline from the estimated 2.6 million people in need of assistance in late 2019, according to the Kenya Food Security Steering Group's 2019 Short Rains Assessment. This lack of food has led to conflict in some areas as villagers find themselves in conflict to secure grazing areas for the livestock, with once close water supplies now sometimes more than 12 miles distant. The video documentary (below) charts daily life in a larger village in Kenya with better services such as a Post Office and clinic.

Kenya Village Life: Volunteer in Kenya

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