Kenya, with its population of 53.77 million (2020), is located in east Africa and borders the Indian Ocean to its south-east, Somalia to its north-east, Ethiopia to its north, South Sudan to its north-west, Uganda to its west and Tanzania to its south. Like so many other African nations after independence, Kenya was subject to one party rule until multi-party elections were established in the 1990s, however its ethnic diversity continues to overshadow politics and the country's wider stability with, as recently as 2010, a new constitution being adopted. Although a popular tourist destination, life in Kenya is dogged by poverty with around 35.5% of its population living below the poverty line. Life expectancy in Kenya is currently 66.70 years (2019) and Kenya is in 143rd place out of 189 countries and territories in 2019 when ranked in terms of life expectancy, literacy, access to knowledge and the living standards of a country.
Many in Kenya are reliant on impoverished subsistence farming that, coupled with poor health care resources (one doctor for every 10,000 people), drives many into further poverty as income drops when the family earner becomes ill when suffering from HIV (4.2% of the population), water borne diseases and malaria. Another factor for the rising levels of poverty in Kenya is the tripling of the population in just 30 years placing an unsustainable burden on available land and already poor resources such as water with 15% of Kenyans relying on unimproved water sources such as ponds, shallow wells and rivers, while 41% lack access to basic sanitation solutions. This figures are higher in rural, villages areas. The water situation in Kenya ia compounded by the worst drought conditions for sixty years which are sweeping across the Horn of Africa from Djibouti where thousands of animals are dying and Nomads driven from their lands, across Somalia and into eastern Kenya and such droughts look as though they are here to stay for the foreseeable future, not least because of rapid deforestation and poor land management and farming techniques.
Today Kenya is classified as a water scarce country and, mainly women and children, often have to walk 3-4 hours a day to collect unsafe water from shallow wells, taking them away from other domestic duties and/or education. (In the hardest hit areas water is some 12-19 miles away.) The situation for those living in urban situations is not much better with water being expensive and sanitation poor. In slums such as Kibera in Nairobi water costs three shillings for each 20 litres ~ just over 2p, but a lot when half of the population of Kenya live on less than 60p a day and be mindful that the average person in England and Wales uses 150 litres of water a day, that's per person, not per family and the average household size in Kenya is 3.9 members according to the last census undertaken in the country in 2019, again higher in rural, village areas.
The water situation is becoming steadily worse with some areas seeing poor rainfall over three seasons, killing stock and forcing others to congregate around water areas, leading to a rise in the spread of livestock diseases, compounding the problem further. This pattern is causing a food shortage with many, particularly in the north of the country, facing severe food insecurity with an estimated 2.4 million in Kenya short of food. Communities in the north-east of Kenya are bracing themselves for worse to come, with predicted rainfalls being less than 50% of the seasonal average; an average already lowered by recent seasons. This will undoubtedly place more Kenyan families at risk of malnutrition, and particularly affect children as their milk supplies dries up when the herds die out. The video documentary (below) explores the water supply situation in Kenya and its impact on the life of people there affected by the shortages whilst you can read more about village life in Kenya by clicking on the 'NEXT' button below.
Life in Kenya: Volunteer in Kenya
Life in Kenya: Maasai Children
Life in Kenya: Child Sponsor Kenya
Life in Kenya: Kenya Country Profile
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