Virtual Learning In Kenya
Kenya is a country in East Africa with 26 million children, many of whom do not have the devices or internet access to partake in virtual learning. Schools have been closed for six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so children need to attend online classes to stay on track. The government is introducing a new digital learning model to 24,000 public schools so that virtual learning in Kenya is accessible to all children.

Internet for All

After Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru launched a digital learning program, Kenya’s government spent 15 billion KES so that schools can teach four subjects online. By using the funds, schools are building computer labs, distributing fiber optic cables, training teachers in digital learning and connecting remote areas to the Internet. Virtual learning in Kenya is only possible if every student has an internet connection and a device at home. Mucheru’s program will distribute digital learning devices that local universities will help develop. Most schools in remote areas of Kenya do not have power access. To combat this, Mucheru will implement solar power in these locations.

Many Kenyan students lacked internet access before their schools shut down, so the program has a learning curve. Luckily, public school children will learn how to use computers and the internet. This ensures they will acquire the same digital skills as children in private school.

The Bigger Picture: Worldwide Statistics

Two-thirds of all children under 18 (1.3 billion) do not have internet access at home, yet hundreds of millions of students must learn virtually. In developing countries, one in 20 children has an internet connection at home compared to nine in 10 children from developed countries. This creates a gap in global access to knowledge.

The digital divide worsens existing inequalities. As children from poor households are struggling to catch up with their peers, they are falling behind in school. Lack of internet access isolates children from the world and halts their education and computer-literacy journeys. According to ITU data, people struggle to compete in the modern economy with poor digital skills.

The Fight to Attend Online Class

During 2020, people broke social distancing to find internet access, thus risking their health. Students in China spent hours hiking to mountaintops in freezing temperatures to find a connection and attend online classes. Many developing countries use television to administer online lectures but rural households rarely have TVs. UNICEF recommends that countries include alternative learning sources like radios, homework packages and tablets. In 2019, UNICEF started Giga which aims to connect every school and its community to the internet. The program has succeeded in 800,000 schools in 30 countries.

Persistent Challenges

Even when children have internet access at home, chores and work might take priority over their studies. Since there are not enough devices for everyone, girls receive encouragement to pursue other things such as early marriage and housework. Computer literacy in girls is rare. Until children resume in-person school, these problems will persist. However, brand new computer labs and internet access that Kenya’s government is supplying will be waiting for them upon return. For now, most children can log into online school because virtual learning in Kenya is finally a reality.

– Rebecca Pomerantz
Photo: Flickr

Child Trafficking in Kenya Kenya has the highest level of child trafficking in the African region. Kenya received the Tier 2 designation for human trafficking. This ranking refers to countries that are not fully compliant with the standards for eliminating human trafficking but are making efforts toward compliance, as the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, a federal bill the U.S Congress passed into law in 2000, defines.

Child Trafficking in Kenya

The cities of  Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa are where trafficking occurs the most. Traffickers traffic children for domestic servitude and sexual exploitation as well as forced labor, forced begging and forced marriage.

The African child trafficking market has become a refined system and it is difficult for authorities to keep up with the scale of the problem. Awareness Against Human Trafficking (HAART) reports that at best, only 2% of trafficked Kenyan children ever make it back home.

With these concerning statistics, it is crucial to bring awareness to these issues and create a judicious plan to put an end to child trafficking in Kenya.

The Vulnerability of Migrants and Refugees

The U.N. Economic Development in Africa Report 2018 notes that migrants, both legal and illegal, from bordering countries such as Somalia, Ethiopia and South Sudan are passing through Kenya in pursuit of better lives in southern Africa as well as Europe and the Americas. Many of these hopeful migrants become victims of exploitation. In Kenya, illegal recruiters make fraudulent offers of employment in the Middle East and Asia to deceive migrants, thus entrapping them, and oftentimes their children, in the trafficking web.

Kenya hosts approximately 470,000 refugees and asylum seekers. These refugees live in camps with limited access to education and livelihood opportunities which makes them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

The Abduction and Sale of Babies

In November 2020, BBC’s Africa Eye investigative journalism program exposed Nairobi’s flourishing black market trade in stolen babies. Children of vulnerable mothers are disappearing and being sold for profit and other mothers are selling their babies for mere survival. This form of illegal child trafficking happens at street clinics and even in plain sight at a major government-run hospital in Nairobi. Many impoverished Kenyans resort to stealing babies in order to sell them for lucrative prices — roughly $460 for a girl and $725 for a boy.

Many young women face challenges such as teen pregnancy. Kenya has one of the highest rates in Africa as 20,828 girls between 10 and 14 years old have become mothers while 24,106 older girls between 15 and 19 years old are either pregnant or mothers already. Some girls are entering sex work to survive which takes them away from school. In Kenya, abortion is illegal except in emergencies. With a lack of reproductive education and awareness of legal options, women may resort to selling their children on the black market.

Lacking Government Response

BBC’s Africa Eye reported that the government has no reports or accurate national surveys on child trafficking in Kenya and agencies are too under-resourced and under-staffed for success in tracking missing children in the black market. The U.S. Department of State’s 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report on Kenya noted that NGOs have affiliated with Kenyan authorities to assist with providing services to victims such as medical care, psycho-social counseling, rehabilitation and reintegration support, basic needs, legal aid and transportation. In some cases, NGOs acted alone when the government’s commitments became unresponsive or stagnant.

NGOs and international organizations have also worked with the government to implement regular training for prosecutorial and judicial officials, border guards, police officers and immigration agents on detecting and properly managing child trafficking in Kenya. This project is in response to the Kenyan authority’s tendency to treat victims as criminals and to label trafficking cases as immigration or labor law violations rather than crimes under the anti-trafficking law, thus leading to less stringent sentences for traffickers.

Organizations Addressing Child Trafficking in Kenya

Activist groups and NGOs alike are taking action in combatting the growing black market. From its inception in 2016 to December 2020, Missing Child Kenya has found and reunited 496 children with their families, committed 73 children to government homes for safe care and custody, documented 21 as deceased and is still searching for another 190. This is a total of 780 children in its case files.

Additionally, a Kenyan-based NGO, HAART Kenya has been engaged in anti-human trafficking efforts for 10 years. It has conducted more than 1,500 workshops on trafficking to educate and raise awareness of the issue and has assisted 585 survivors of human trafficking.

Efforts from organizations such as these ensure that child trafficking in Kenya is eradicated once and for all.

Alyssa McGrail
Photo: Flickr

Vulnerable Children in KenyaOrganizations like UNICEF and ACAKORO have been providing educational resources to Kenyan students despite the immense difficulties in the country due to COVID-19 and 2020’s locust invasion. On March 15, 2020, the Kenyan Government forced schools to shut down due to COVID-19. Due to school closures, millions of students risk losing out on education during the pandemic. Organizations stepped in to provide resources, remote learning services and sanitation facilities to vulnerable children in Kenya.

Education in Kenya

Over the past decade, poverty in Kenya has improved due to the country meeting many of its Millennium Development Goals. The Millennium Development Goals are goals created by the United Nations to help underdeveloped nations improve and one of these goals is to achieve universal primary education. A key issue that Kenya needs to address is education disparities. According to a UNICEF study conducted in 2014, low educational attainment of the household head and living in rural areas is the highest indicator that predicts child poverty.

Impoverished children struggle to gain an education. More than 1.2 million primary-school-age children do not attend school. Even more vulnerable children like orphans have increased susceptibility to experiencing education disparities.

Employment in Kenya

Young people in search of employment experience difficulties finding a job that lifts them out of poverty. Only 1% of Kenyan youth have a university education and many young people are entering a job market with few hirable skills. A whole 40% of the youth in Kenya either did not go to school or failed to complete primary education and the largest percentage of people unemployed in Kenya is represented by those aged between 15 and 24. Higher education in Kenya is expensive and not accessible to disadvantaged children.

UNICEF Provides Aid

Nationwide access to quality education is key in reducing poverty and investing in the futures of vulnerable children in Kenya. UNICEF alleviated education burdens during the COVID-19 crisis by providing remote learning to students and giving solar-powered radios and textbooks to vulnerable families. Through UNICEF’s solar-powered radios, 40,000 vulnerable children were reached with educational resources that are necessary for remote learning. On December 23, 2020, UNICEF provided 700,000 masks to be distributed in time for schools to reopen on January 4, 2021. Improved access to sanitation is an ongoing issue, and due to the pandemic, the need for sanitation is of crucial importance. UNICEF foresaw the issue and provided handwashing facilities to hundred of schools.

ACAKORO

ACAKORO is a community-based organization, supported by UNICEF, that uses football as a tool for development. ACAKORO works with the community of the Korogocho slum and has been tutoring vulnerable children during COVID-19 so that they can continue their learning. UNICEF is also supporting the government and the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) with remote learning and getting schools ready to reopen safely.

The Kenya Jua Kali Voucher Programme

The Kenya Jua Kali Voucher Programme, implemented between 1997 and 2001, was a revolutionary comprehensive policy designed to provide vulnerable youth with vouchers to pay for training courses. A similar modern-day strategy can be put in place in order to address the lack of access to essential education in Kenya. Providing equal access to education for all children in Kenya is essential to lift people out of poverty.

Organizations such as UNICEF and ACAKORO are addressing education-related disparities amid the pandemic, thereby addressing overall poverty in the nation.

– Hannah Brock
Photo: Flickr

 Preventing HIV in KenyaA new, injectable antiretroviral drug, cabotegravir (CAB LA), may have significant potential for preventing HIV among sub-Saharan African women. In November 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported trial results of the HIV Prevention Trials Network Study (HPTN 084), testing the use and effectiveness of CAB LA in preventing HIV among more than 3,200 HIV-negative, sexually active women across east and southern Africa. This drug could significantly lower prevalence rates and help in preventing HIV in Kenya, which has one of the largest HIV/AIDS epidemics in the world.

Cabotegravir or CAB LA

CAB LA, a long-acting pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) regimen, requires an injection only every eight weeks and has been shown to be 89% more effective in preventing HIV than taking a daily oral antiretroviral PrEP, a generic pill currently marketed as Truvada.

Kenya’s HIV Epidemic

The first case of HIV in Kenya appeared in 1984. By 1990, HIV was one of the leading causes of illness in the country. At its highest point, more than three million Kenyans lived with AIDS. Since then, the government of Kenya decreased the prevalence of HIV from its 10.5% peak in 1996 to 5.6% in 2012. By 2019, the prevalence rate was 4.5% in adults aged 15-49. However, certain vulnerable populations within Kenya are more at risk of getting HIV, such as women. Males have an estimated prevalence rate of 4.5% while the rate for females is 5.2%. Among youth aged between 15 and 24 years old, boys have a prevalence rate of 1.34% compared to girls at 2.61%.

The only option for preventing HIV in Kenya is a daily PrEP pill called Truvada. The government of Kenya first approved oral PrEP for country-wide distribution in 2015, and since 2017, has scaled up the distribution throughout Kenya. However, of the 1.5 million Kenyans living with HIV, only 26,098 (1.7%) are currently on PrEP.

Though 72% of the population had been tested for HIV, only 70% had been tested more than once. Frequent testing, at least once a year if sexually active or at least every six months if part of a particularly vulnerable population, is vital to giving care and treatment for at-risk groups.

The Potential of CAB LA for Preventing HIV in Kenya

  1. The HPTN study reported that CAB LA is nine times more effective in preventing HIV in Kenya than the Truvada pill, the current form of PrEP. The PrEP pill is only effective if taken daily and is not a standalone prevention method for other STIs or unplanned pregnancies. The new drug also does not require other forms of protection, such as condoms.
  2. This drug gives vulnerable populations more HIV options for preventing HIV in Kenya. Vulnerable populations include sex workers, men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, youth and women. These vulnerable populations face stigma, which affects their ability to access PrEP pills. Because the injection is needed only once every two months, the increased discretion and ease of the infrequent injection may increase its use and thus increase the protection of those who need it.
  3. Discretion in use of the drug may be able to reach more women specifically. In combination with the stigma attached to HIV, women in Kenya face discrimination in terms of access to education, employment and healthcare. As a result, men often dominate sexual relationships, with women not always able to practice safer sex, even when they know they should. For example, in 2014, 35% of adult women (aged 15-49) who were or had been married had experienced spousal violence and 14% had experienced sexual violence. Women in Kenya find it especially difficult to take a daily pill, which significantly reduces the effectiveness of the medicine. Only 68% of Kenyan women have access to antiretroviral pills.

Though not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the developer of the drug, ViiV Healthcare, expects cabotegravir to be ready for the market by early 2021.

– Charlotte Ehlers
Photo: Flickr

Mobile Technology in KenyaAround 75% of working Kenyans make their living through agriculture. Being the largest industry in the country, the ability of Kenyan farmers to produce crops is essential for both economic and food security reasons. Agriculture provides food and money to the many farmers and their communities. This vital sector is in danger, with unpredictable climate conditions and the emergence of pests that can decimate entire crops. Artificial intelligence (AI) and mobile smartphones are new resources being used to save the produce of these farmers and the livelihoods of millions of Kenyans. Mobile technology in Kenya has great potential to increase the production of the valuable agricultural sector, keeping millions above the poverty line.

Cellphone and Internet Acess in Kenya

The mobile phone industry has been steadily growing in Kenya. According to a survey of 577 farming households, 98% of respondents own a mobile phone. The increasing affordability of cellphones and internet access in the country has opened the door to bring new forms of aid to the farmers who produce more than a third of the country’s GDP.

Project FARM

Mobile apps that machine learning powers have emerged to help farmers all over the world make as much from their crops as they can. In Kenya, which has been experiencing unpredictable levels of rainfall each season, a mobile app is working to consolidate data to help determine the best course of action for the farmers during changing weather conditions. Project FARM (Financial and Agricultural Recommendation Models) is a program that can take into account weather, temperature, strains of crops and success rates from other farms in order to determine what actions will produce the largest yield. FARM sends notifications to farmers via text so that they can be readily alerted of any danger as heavy rain can occur suddenly and damage entire fields. Farmers can operate the program from their cellphones so they can easily access and implement the resources. After just one year using FARM, on average, a single farmer increased their yield from six 90kg bags of maize to nine bags.

AI Apps as an Educational Resource

Programs like this also work in conjunction with resources that seek to educate farmers about ways to sell their products as well as how to maximize efficiency and yield. These resources are free and greatly help those who could not afford to hire an agronomist to inspect their farm. This combination helps farmers produce more and know how to manage more products so that they can sell them in the most efficient way possible.

Apps for Crop Pest Control

AI also helps farmers by giving them valuable information about crop-decimating pests. Pests pose a grave threat to African farms and estimates have determined that Africa loses around 50% of all crops each year due to pests and diseases. The Fall Armyworm (FAW) is a type of caterpillar that has recently plagued East Africa and is capable of ruining huge amounts of produce. The Farmers Companion App is a program that AI powers which is capable of determining which crops are infested and the stage of the lifecycle of the pest. This will allow farmers to take the best possible steps to contain the spread. Another app, PlantVillage Nuru, is capable of diagnosing crop diseases without an internet connection.

Mobile Technology in Kenya Helps Agriculture

Mobile technology in Kenya is an important step to help farmers deal with the evolving problems of the 21st century. With agriculture being such an important industry in Kenya and with so much of the produce at risk each year, it is vital for the economy and wellbeing of the country that crops are protected and that yields are produced at an effective rate. These types of developments in AI and mobile technologies have the potential to significantly help the livelihoods of millions of farmers in Kenya and other countries too.

– Jackson Bramhall
Photo: Flickr

Hemophilia in Kenya
Around 5,000 Kenyans suffer from a blood disorder called hemophilia. Hemophilia prevents blood clots from forming after a wound and results in continuous bleeding. Many Kenyans with this disorder often pass away due to the inability to pay for treatment. Also, stigma from local communities makes individuals believe that hemophilia comes from witchcraft and it prevents affected Kenyans from finding traditional Western medicine. The World Federation of Hemophilia (WFH) Humanitarian Aid Program, Muranga Hospital and Save One Life offer free medical treatment to low-income patients, give grants to fund small businesses, host gatherings to encourage peer support and provide education and awareness about hemophilia in Kenya.

The World Federation of Hemophilia (WFH) Humanitarian Aid Program

WFH started helping out in Kenya in 2015 and strives to provide medical treatment to lower-income individuals with hemophilia. Since arriving in Kenya, the program donated more than 17 million international units of factor to Kenyans. This treatment allows patients with acute bleeding to find temporary relief.

With the consistent flow of clotting factor coming into Kenya, young children qualify for prophylactic treatment. WFH offers prophylactic treatment to children with hemophilia to reduce the risk of bleeding and joint damage in the future. Children who were on the verge of dropping out of school due to their disorder continued with their education after receiving treatment.

Muranga Hospital

Located in central Kenya, the Muranga Hospital dedicated a special clinic to treat patients with hemophilia in Kenya. Before the construction of this clinic, affected Kenyans traveled for 2 hours to receive treatment in Nairobi and spent a significant portion of their income on travel expenses.

The clinic in the Muranga Hospital offers vials of clotting factor to stop acute bleeding. Medical professionals dispatch factor to the homes of patients who desperately need treatment. When the factor arrives, patients call the clinic and nurses teach the individuals how to properly inject themselves.

Since the clinic is located in a rural area with minimal education about blood disorders, the local community strongly believes that hemophilia comes from witchcraft. This false belief prevents affected individuals from seeking proper medical treatment. Health professionals from the clinic attempt to combat this myth by going out into the community and educating the public about hemophilia.

Save One Life

Save One Life came into existence in 2000 and aims to alleviate the financial burden of families in developing countries that hemophilia affects. More specifically, the organization helps patients by offering grants and emotional support.

Save One Life gives out grants of around $800 to low-income Kenyans with hemophilia to spend it on their small businesses. The grant helps patients to expand their business and earn extra money to pay for their medical treatments. Grants funded a range of businesses, from ridesharing services to dairy farming.

Also, the organization hosts gatherings for women with children that suffer from hemophilia. In a meeting of almost 50 women, they discussed their experiences dealing with the stigma of hemophilia and the difficulties of raising children without help from their husbands. The meetings allowed women to exchange advice and offer emotional support to each other.

With the help of nonprofit organizations and rural clinics, low-income individuals who experience hemophilia obtained medical treatments and lived more substantial lives. Raising awareness and educating the public about hemophilia in Kenya allows affected individuals to not feel ashamed about their diagnosis and to seek out proper medical care.

– Samantha Rodriguez-Silva
Photo: Flickr

Mental Health in Kenya
Kenya is a lower-middle-income country with a population of about 52.5 million and a physician-patient ratio of 0.2 to 1,000 people. The psychiatrist-population ratio is 0.19 to 100,000. The most common mental illnesses in Kenya are depression, substance use disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other forms of psychosis. It is estimated that of all persons seeking health services in Kenya, a quarter of the inpatients and almost half of all outpatients suffer from mental illness. Fortunately, health organizations are working to make mental health in Kenya a priority.

Kenya’s Mental Health Policy

According to the 1989 Mental Health Act, Cap. 248 of the Laws of Kenya, all general hospitals are required to treat and admit persons with mental illness. Kenya’s 2015-2030 Mental Health Policy outlines a strategy for achieving mental health reform in the country. Using a multidisciplinary approach and guided by the Ministry of Health, the policy underscores the need for collaborative interventions. The policy also recognizes human rights in treating persons with mental, neurological and substance use disorders. Finally, the policy aims to provide quality, accessible and equitable mental healthcare services in accordance with WHO standards.

Mental Health Services in Kenya

There are at least 14 general and provincial hospitals in Kenya offering mental healthcare and psychiatric services. Mathari Teaching and Referral Hospital is the national psychiatric hospital with a 700-bed capacity. There are also various private clinics and rehabilitation centers as well as professional bodies and organizations whose members work together to provide mental health services.

The Kenya Psychiatric Association (KPA) is a professional body for psychiatrists. Its mission is to promote mental health in Kenya through training, governance, empirical research and mental health services. The Association contributed to the 2015-2030 Mental Health Policy and the 1989 Mental Health Act and has established national and international networks in the field. It also continues to provide mentorship to upcoming mental health professionals.

Another organization regulating mental health services is the Kenya Counseling and Psychological Association, which governs counselors and psychologists. The organization seeks to offer professional counseling psychology services in the country based on set standards in training, practice, research and advocacy.

The National Authority for the Campaign Against Drug and Alcohol Abuse (NACADA) is an organization under Kenya’s Government that tackles drug and alcohol abuse in the population, particularly among the youth. To achieve its goals, NACADA uses public education and advocacy, undertakes research surrounding alcohol and substance use in the nation, regulates the alcohol industry and offers counseling and rehabilitation services. As of 2020, NACADA had established 100 accredited rehabilitation centers, offered 20 life skills training programs and saved 8,000 lives.

Mental Health Research in Kenya

In November 2019, a task force was set up to report on the status of mental health in Kenya; the report was released in July 2020. The team was drawn from healthcare professionals, cabinet members, security service providers, politicians and youth representatives around the country. The task force detailed recommendations for mental health reforms, citing changes in administration, legislation and criminal justice systems.

Recommendations include declaring mental illness a public health emergency and increasing funding for the mental health sector to make services more widely accessible. The report also proposed providing healthy workspaces and mental health services in learning institutions and incorporating mental health literacy across school curricula.

Moving forward, it is essential that the Kenyan government and other mental health organizations in the nation utilize this research to improve policies and practices. Through research, collaboration and informed interventions, mental health in Kenya will hopefully improve.

Beth Warūgūrū Hinga
Photo: Flickr

What You Need to Know About the Masai Village HIV:AIDS CrisisHIV/AIDS affects the majority of African countries. Masai villages are located in Kenya, where approximately one in five adults is currently infected with HIV/AIDS. The Masai Village HIV/AIDS crisis continues to affect many, and, as a result, humanitarian organizations are working to alleviate the increasingly high infection rates.

What Does the Masai Village HIV/AIDS Crisis Look like?

HIV/AIDS infection rates are increasingly high and treatment rates are increasingly low. Of the affected 38 African countries, Kenya, the home of Masai villages, is the fifth most affected country in the world. Masai culture is greatly patriarchal, traditional and resistant toward common health practices. Marriage practices, a fundamental aspect of the Masai culture, gravely impact the Masai village members’ health. Prior to marital relationships, most girls will have sexual relations with young warriors and such relations will continue after the girls are properly married. Immediately after reaching puberty, girls are married to older men with the goal of preventing childbirth out of wedlock.

Even after marriage, most women fear seeking testing or treatment, as husbands will abandon their wives if they are infected with HIV/AIDS. Because men provide financial support, housing and food, women, understandably, do not seek appropriate treatment.

In Kenya, more than 30% of newborns are infected with HIV/AIDS and approximately half of those children die before they are 2 years old. The alarmingly high death rate is largely due to the fact that both the babies and their mothers do not seek proper diagnoses, let alone treatment. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) found that since the onset of the global HIV/AIDS crisis in 1981, 17 million children lost at least one parent from HIV/AIDS. Of those 17 million children, 91% live in Sub-Saharan African countries such as Kenya.

Obstacles in Alleviating HIV/AIDS Rates

According to Doctors Without Borders, a fundamental obstacle posed by the Masai Village HIV/AIDS crisis is the unavailability of health clinics. Because Masai villages are independent of the country’s government rule, little progress can be made from African or Kenyan government forces. Masai villages are primarily controlled by a Laibon, a de facto leader of the village, who makes decisions regarding marriages, cattle, spiritual practices and health. Laibons primarily practice alternative medicine, leaving the communities with no access to HIV/AIDS treatment.

Even if there is a clinic close by, they are unlikely to have treatment. In addition to stigmas around testing, clinics do not have the antiretroviral treatments that are available in the United States. In implementing antiretroviral treatments within the United States, mortality rates have been reduced by more than 80%. But, such treatments can cost more than $9,000, which Masai village members and clinics cannot afford. Furthermore, there are numerous legal barriers preventing the production and importation of antiretroviral treatment to Kenya, specifically the rural areas of the Masai villages.

Progress for the Masai Village HIV/AIDS Crisis

The Masai village HIV/AIDS crisis has extreme implications. HIV/AIDS most commonly affects the younger, more sexually-active members of the village. Because the younger population is more physically able to partake in laborious work, the strenuous tasks that keep the villages operating cannot be completed if they are sick. Therefore, high infection rates lead to a decrease in social contribution. Without the help of younger Masai members, the villages become vulnerable to instability. For both health reasons and the function of their villages, Masai members will not be able to survive if Kenya’s infection rate remains above 4%.

Because limited progress can be made from within the Masai villages, many global aid organizations such as Adapt-A-Doctor and Kenya AIDS Intervention are paying physicians to practice in struggling countries. Additionally, Doctors Without Borders is increasing their time in hotspot countries, such as Kenya, where they provide free counseling and testing to Masai village members.

Through the efforts of external organizations and health associations, awareness of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Masai villages is increasing. The help of such organizations in collaboration with Masai villages will lead its members to live healthier, safer and longer lives.

– Maya Sulkin

Photo: Flickr

Deworming PillsThis July, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) published data from a longitudinal research study that looked at how deworming Kenyan children affected their economic outcomes. Youths took deworming medication under professional supervision and were revisited 20 years later by researchers. Economists used these findings to estimate the impact of deworming pills. They find an enormous effect: taking deworming pills during childhood boosts household income by as much as 13% in adulthood.

NBER Research

Deworming has a positive effect on children’s education; reducing absenteeism and dropping out of school. However, this study finds that in addition to, and perhaps as a result of improved education, deworming increases the likelihood of working in nonagricultural jobs with higher incomes. If students are healthier from a younger age and succeed in school, they have a higher chance of bettering their futures. However, it must be noted that the study only found this future income boost applied to men, suggesting that although deworming medicine increases better education, it does not improve economic mobility for women. Further research is necessary to study this gender gap and its causes.

Further Research

The World Health Organization (WHO) and The World Bank have been funding the distribution of deworming pills in Africa for many years now. In sub-Saharan Africa, there are high infection rates of intestinal worms, especially among school-age children. Worms stunt children’s development and affect their ability to function. Deworming kids is inexpensive, and it results in healthier individuals and communities. Additionally, when previous generations are treated, the current generations are shown to reap the benefits. With deworming programs having such clear positive results, many organizations such as the WHO support and supply school-based deworming in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as other developing countries.

Deworming pills cost less than a dollar per child treated, so the return on deworming programs is enormous. For instance, the NBER study predicts a 37% return on deworming investments. However, these researchers acknowledge that there is a low chance this effect is statistically significant. In other words, they may have vastly overstated the effect of deworming pills on future outcomes.

Deworm the World

Hassenfeld is the co-founder of GiveWell, a nonprofit dedicated to finding and rating giving opportunities for donors. GiveWell backs an initiative called “Deworm the World,” which they consider a “priority program” because of how cheap deworming is and how beneficial the outcome may be. GiveWell also hires and trains monitors to attend schools, conduct training sessions, and implement distributions of deworming pills to students to ensure program efficiency.

Deworm the World spent $2.2 million more dollars in 2018 on deworming than in 2017. However, the company is continually seeking funding because they hope to expand its programs in Kenya, India, Pakistan and Nigeria.

Concluding Thoughts

This study suggests that deworming may strengthen entire communities over time, raising people out of poverty and improving their countries’ GDP. One study cannot completely explain the financial impact of deworming; however, it is clear that further research is needed and that children’s lives are being changed for the better. Previous research has shown that supporting healthcare systems and eradicating illnesses in developing countries leads to their growth and success. Similarly, deworming programs may play a big role in alleviating poverty in countries affected by intestinal worms.

– Giulia Silver
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Kenya
Charitable organizations and the Kenyan government have long recognized child poverty as a dire issue. Due to this recognition, Kenyan child poverty rates have steadily reduced since 2008. Meanwhile, governmental policies and constitutional highlights, along with funding and research headed by establishments like UNICEF, have improved the lives of countless children within Kenyan communities. UNICEF has conducted extensive research on the main causes of child poverty in Kenya. Its hope is that this research will be a basis for a change in child poverty reduction. Here are some of the main contributors that UNICEF has identified as factors relating to child poverty rates in Kenya.

4 Major Definers of Child Poverty in Kenya

  1. Poor Sanitation: Children living in Kenya often do not have access to proper plumbing facilities. Over half of individuals under 18 still lack this basic resource.
  2. Lack of Clean Water: Children, especially those living in rural areas, have a lack of access to water that is clean enough to drink. There are also many schools throughout Kenya that do not have drinking water for their students, which creates a high health risk.
  3. Lack of Education: Around 25% of the children living in Kenya have not been able to gain a decent education as of 2014. Along with this, many children who were attending school were in a class at the wrong learning level.
  4. Insufficient Housing: Many children in Kenya live in housing that has no insulation or ventilation. Lack of ventilation, in particular, can cause harmful air pollution sourced from cooking appliances.

The Basic Education Act

The government of Kenya has fulfilled many efforts to help with the eradication of child poverty over the years. The 2010 Kenyan Constitution made a point to emphasize that children have the right to basic needs including shelter, health care and food. It further stated that children should have access to free education at the basic level. Since 2010, the Kenyan government endorsed programs along with the passing of the Basic Education Act in 2013, ensuring that educational equality will truly occur within the country. Due to this emphasis, the number of educated children rose 11% by the year 2014.

The Food and Nutrition Policy

In 2011, the Food and Nutrition Policy emerged in Kenya with the objective of creating food equity for all citizens. This policy has helped improve food access within the country by making it more abundant and making sure that Kenyan citizens received education about proper food consumption. For infants, the nutrition policy targeted the reduction of women’s workload so that they could be more available to breastfeed their children. Breast milk substitutes also experienced more marketing because of this policy. For children in school, the 2011 policy ensured that government-run educational facilities provided meals and integrated them into school days. This policy also established programs for young women in need of nutrient supplementation before pregnancy.

Kenya’s National Nutrition Action Plan

Kenya’s National Nutrition Action Plan occurred from 2012 to 2017. This plan focused on the education of governmental policymakers by emphasizing the correlation between food security and the many factors that contribute to child poverty in Kenya. It also highlighted nutrition as a fundamental and constitutional human right.

One key initiative that the National Nutrition Plan promoted was the increased awareness of the benefits of lobbying for greater nutritional funding. This plan included 11 key elements, all of which highlighted the improvement of nutritional status and education on proper nutrition for women and children in Kenya. This plan further ensured that each of its key elements received implementation and support through various agencies, with government planning and budgeting processes accounting for each agency. A result of these implemented strategies included a raise from 39% to 67% of children eating three or more food groups in a day.

Save the Children’s Efforts

Save the Children is a program that has worked toward the direct relief of child poverty in Kenya since around 1950. Along with a variety of resources providing services, this organization has worked to establish and grow women and youth programs in Kenya. These programs directly improve income within households, job prospects for children’s futures and overall nutrition in children. Save the Children has also worked to help improve livestock conditions. The prosperity of livestock has a large correlation with sustainable incomes for many households in Kenya. These households have thus been able to provide stability for their developing children.

Sustainable Development Objectives

While a lot of work has already occurred to help solve child poverty in Kenya, organizations like the UN are working to support 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in order to help eradicate almost all child resource injustices by 2030. Most of the UN’s funding is going towards a movement towards ending hunger/poverty while providing a decent health care system for all citizens. Through the utilization of the strengths of many countries and their leaders, the UN is hopeful that it will be able to tackle its goal of making Kenya a more holistic country in which to grow.

– Olivia Bay
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