Fighting Malnutrition in Kenya
In Africa, about 257 million people do not know where their next meal will come from. This means that approximately 20 percent of the population is experiencing severe hunger as a result of the continent’s economic crisis and extremely dry conditions. Food prices soar in response to poor harvests and crop failures, leaving many to starve if action is not taken. Fortunately, humanitarian aid organizations like UNICEF reduce the impact of hunger in impoverished countries across Africa by stepping in with malnutrition prevention and treatment strategies that continue to save lives. This is how UNICEF is fighting malnutrition in Kenya.

The State of Malnutrition in Kenya

Kenya’s food insecurity issue is a direct byproduct of the country’s low agricultural productivity that is caused by a lack of rainfall. About 80 percent of the East African country’s land is arid.  These dry, drought-like conditions only exacerbate the dilemma of low crop and livestock production. This leads to a shortage of food, and the available food is often sold at an inflated, unaffordable price.

More than 3.4 million Kenyans are facing severe food insecurity and around 400,000 children under the age of 5 are malnourished. Approximately 26 percent of children 5 and under are stunted, while another 4 percent are chronically emaciated or “wasting.” With malnutrition being the leading cause of death in children, it is vital that something is done to prevent this hunger.

Taking Action

Luckily, UNICEF is taking action. Founded in 1946, UNICEF is fighting malnutrition in Kenya from the inside by providing millions of people with resources, medical treatment and even counseling. The organization’s Vitamin A Supplementation Policy helped more than 3 million children to receive Vitamin A, a nutrient that is crucial for the human body to develop properly. This supplementation program has helped children fight malnutrition by allowing them to build strong immune systems and reduce dehydration. According to UNICEF, Vitamin A supplements can increase a child’s chance of survival by as much as 24 percent.

In 2017, UNICEF provided malnutrition screenings to over 450,000 impoverished children through outreach services. This program was in response to Kenya’s national drought emergency that was declared in April of that year, which was projected to cause a rapid spike in food shortages. These screenings were able to provide life-saving treatments for children that were suffering from the effects of malnutrition.

Iron Folic Acid (IFA) prevents low iron levels in the body while also promoting proper growth and development. UNICEF recently donated Iron Folic Acid supplements to over 2.5 million women of reproductive age through the Girls’ Iron-Folate Tablet Supplementation (GIFTS) Programme, allowing adolescent girls and women to decrease their susceptibility to anemia. Since IFA is often used as a prenatal supplement, UNICEF is fighting child malnutrition in Kenya before it even starts.

In addition to increasing a child’s chance of survival, feeding practices like breastfeeding can promote optimal growth and development. Through the Community Health System, UNICEF counseled more than 1.7 million new mothers on safe and proper breastfeeding. By teaching mothers about the benefits of breastfeeding, UNICEF has saved even more children from experiencing malnutrition at an early age.

Moving Forward

Kenya has made significant progress in reducing malnutrition rates. By promoting good nutrition and providing resources and outreach services, UNICEF has improved the lives of millions of families. As far as 2022, UNICEF plans on continuing to integrate nutrition-specific strategies to help fight malnutrition in Kenya.

– Hadley West
Photo: Flickr

Global Energy Poverty
Around 840 million people around the world have no access to electricity. Global energy poverty is prevalent with most living in developing nations in South Asia, Latin America and rural Africa. In India, more than 300 million people lack access to electricity. In Sub-Saharan Africa, that number is twice as high.

Energy poverty or the lack of access to modern energy services, including electricity and clean cooking facilities, remains a barrier to global prosperity and individual well-being. That is why ensuring basic energy for 100 percent of the world’s population by 2030 is one of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. Yet, at the current rate of progress, 650 million people will still live in the dark. Microgrids have the potential to improve that course and eliminate global energy poverty.

What are Microgrids?

Microgrids or mini-grids are small, localized power grids. They can operate on their own using local energy generation without needing a connection to a larger power grid. Renewable resources power most along with diesel back-up and batteries.

Microgrids can power fridges, fans, irrigation pumps and other basic machinery. With microgrid energy, families can power appliances that save time on household chores, farmers can increase crop yield with irrigation and schools can light their classrooms.

Benefits of Microgrids

With low costs and high yields, microgrids could end global poverty. The price of batteries, solar and other energy technologies has been decreasing since 2010, in turn reducing the cost of microgrids. The International Energy Agency named localized power grids as the most cost-effective option to deliver electricity to more than 70 percent of the unconnected. Continued innovation will further drive cost reduction.

Microgrids are also modular, easy to transport and simple to install. This makes them especially valuable in remote and rural areas.

Use of Microgrids

In India and Sub-Saharan Africa, microgrids are already electrifying and transforming communities. SmartPower India, with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, has used microgrids to power more than 100 villages and serve 40,000 people. Since the project launched in 2015, carpenters and tailors have more than doubled their productivity, farmers have built cold storage facilities to keep produce and entrepreneurs have opened small businesses. Local economies grew by $18.50 per capita.

In Kenya, a solar company is using microgrids to deliver power to villages deep in the African bush. SteamaCo’s microgrids supply 10,000 households and businesses across 25 villages with electricity. This has allowed for businesses to trade longer, students to study after dark and communities to grow more independent.

A lack of access to modern, reliable and affordable energy services hinders communities and cripples economies. It is time to turn the light on for the billions of people without access to electricity. Microgrids could end global energy poverty.

– Kayleigh Rubin
Photo: U.S. Marine Corps

Bicycles and Poverty Alleviation
The discussion of poverty and the stresses that poverty can cause has taken an interesting turn, right onto a bike path. While the association between bicycles and poverty alleviation may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about development and aid, bikes and all their uses have been appearing in these conversations more and more.

Bikes in the World

Across the world, the number of people who own and ride bicycles varies. In the Netherlands, the Dutch own 22.5 million bicycles, meaning that bikes outnumber the 17 million people who live there. In China, there are around half a billion bicycles, averaging out to about one bike per household. Bicycles can be a great option for transport, health and sustainability across the world.

In less-wealthy areas of the world, bicycles can also serve as a crucial way to get access to health care and employment. In Kenya, a nation of 49.7 million, bicycles have been a long-used mode of transport but have recently seen a new use in one rural town, increasing the ease of obtaining clean and safe water.

Kenya & Water

Of the almost 50 million people living in Kenya, over 8 million live in extreme poverty, accounting for 16 percent of the country’s population. Rural areas experience the brunt of this poverty, housing almost 7 million of these people. While poverty and lack of resources hit areas such as education and health care hard, one area of life in Kenya suffers the most—access to safe and clean water for drinking and irrigation.

Over 40 percent of Kenyans rely on water sources that are unreliable and unimproved, such as ponds, shallow wells and rivers. When combined with the lack of access to sanitation common in poorer parts of Kenya, this lack of access to water becomes even more problematic. A scant nine out of 55 public water service providers in Kenya are able to provide a continuous clean and safe water supply, leaving many residents to fend for themselves in finding this necessity.

Additionally, the scarcity of water has increased in Kenya due to climate change in recent years, creating massive issues for seasonal farmers in the country. Seasonal farmers rely on rainy seasons to create a living for themselves and their families, and unpredictable dry seasons have wreaked havoc on this way of life. Despite this lack of water, Kenya and the neighboring country of Uganda share the world’s second-largest lake and river system. The problem is not the amount of water in the area, but rather finding a way to easily and inexpensively move this water to where people need it.

Pedal Power

One Dutch charity, Cycling out of Poverty (CooP), partnered with organizations in Kenya and Uganda to find a solution to this problem. CooP began equipping residents with bicycles to increase and ease access to markets, farms and other food-related services and in 2018, connecting bicycles and poverty alleviation in a valuable manner. In 2018, CooP launched another innovative piece to their plan: a bicycle-powered water pump.

In Kisumu, the third-largest city in Kenya, the Green Hub Shop now boasts a pedal-powered water pump that efficiently and inexpensively sucks water from local sources such as streams and rivers to provide irrigation to dry areas. This pump allows for a longer growing season and a more successful and varied crop production, aiding farmers and their families in an innovative way. CooP and the Green Hub Shop have found a simple and successful pilot solution to a long-running problem, once again proving the beneficial link between bicycles and poverty alleviation.

– Elizabeth Baker
Photo: Flickr

Randomized Control Testing
“It can often seem like the problems of global poverty are intractable, but over the course of my lifetime and career, the fraction of the world’s people living in poverty has dropped dramatically.” – Dr. Michael Kremer

In October 2019, Michael Kremer of Harvard and Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee of MIT won the Nobel Prize in Economics for their extensive, randomized control testing-based research in tackling global poverty. At 46 years old, Duflo is the youngest economics laureate ever and only the second woman to receive the prize over its 50-year history.

Incorporating Scientific Studies

The trio set out to establish a more scientific approach to studying the effects of investment projects in the developing world. One of the ways they discovered that they could accomplish this is through randomized control testing. Commonly used in the medical field and made legitimate in the social sciences by the trio, this type of testing involves randomly selecting communities as beneficiaries of experimental projects. Randomly selecting the beneficiaries removes selection bias, providing more accurate and legitimate results.

Randomized Control Testing in India and Kenya

Duflo and Banerjee used randomized control testing experiments in schools in India in an effort to improve the quality of education. The authors discovered that simply getting students to school was not sufficient in improving test scores. Previous research also noted that additional resources, even additional teachers, had minimal impact on students’ performance.

The laureates discovered instead that providing support for an interventionist to work with students behind on their educational skills and making computer-assisted learning available so that all students could have additional math practice improved their scores. In the first year, the average test scores increased by 0.14 standard deviations and in the second year, they increased by 0.28 standard deviations. In the second year, the children initially in the bottom third improved by over 0.4 standard deviations. Those sent for remedial education with the interventionist saw 0.6 standard deviations increase and the computer-assisted learning improved math scores by 0.35 standard deviations in the first year and 0.47 in the second year for all students equally. These results provide clear and definite numbers on the success of the program and show that those who experienced the most benefits were the students in the greatest need of assistance.

Kremer completed a similar study in Kenya. Again, the research found that additional resources did little to improve the learning abilities of the weaker students and that much of the school policies and practices were helpful to the advancement of the already high achieving students. Another of Kremer’s studies in Kenya further showed the impact small interventions can have on student retention. His research found that by bringing deworming medication directly into the classroom, school absenteeism rates decreased by 25 percent, leading to higher secondary school attendance, higher wages and a higher standard of living.

Impact vs. Performance Evaluations

The key to Kremer, Duflo and Banerjee’s success was not the result of pumping out positive statistics. Their success, and reason for winning the Nobel Prize, came from the rigorous scientific approach they took with their studies by using randomized control testing that led to not only positive results but also to meaningful impact where they were working and beyond. For instance, after the success in Kenya with the deworming, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) agreed to finance Kenyan scientists to travel to India to help expand the program. Soon, 150 million children were receiving treatments of deworming medication each year.

This example shows the lasting impact of the work of the laureates. When the fields of economics and politics use more rigorous and randomized studies, it becomes clearer what programs work and which do not, creating greater efficiency and enabling successful projects to expand. The work of the three professors has already led to the leaders of USAID to question the utility of performance evaluations over impact evaluations. In other words, the agency has started to see a shift from success defined as the generated output of the programs to success as the net gain or impact as a direct result of the programs.

Altogether, the work of Kremer, Duflo and Banerjee has raised the bar for economic and social research in the future. Their work has set new expectations that will force researchers to create more detailed and accurate studies that will continue to guide policy.

– Scott Boyce
Photo: Flickr

6 Ways Kenya is Closing the Internet Connectivity Gap
Access to the internet has come a long way in Kenya since its adoption in 1993. The first internet users in Kenya were nonprofits, international organizations and multinational companies. In 2000, there were a total of 200,000 users, only 0.7 percent of the general population. A gap in accessibility persisted between these organizations and the remote, urban poor. Today, not only are all government ministries now accessible via the web, but 89.7 percent of the population regularly uses the internet as of June 2019. Better access to data translates to better education and standard of living. Kenya achieved this dramatic increase in accessibility thanks to a number of government and business initiatives. Here are six initiatives that have helped close the internet connectivity gap in Kenya.

6 Ways Kenya is Closing the Internet Connectivity Gap

  1. The Communications Authority of Kenya: To commercialize the internet, the Kenyan Government created the Communications Authority (CA) of Kenya in 1998. Its charge was to develop licensing for systems and services in communications and telecommunications, electrical engineering, broadcasting, e-commerce, cyber-security, multimedia as well as postal services.
  2. The Universal Service Fund: In 2009, the CA established the Universal Service Fund, which was designed to propagate access to information and communication technology (ICT) throughout the country. The fund has helped finance ambitious initiatives and innovation ICT through license levies, government appropriations, grants and donations. National projects continue to be enacted to expand services to remote and urban poor.
  3. Cyber Cafes and English: A challenge in making internet more commercial in Kenya was the lack of technology, electricity and landlines in the hands of average people. With the expansion of internet shops in the past two decades, urban centers have offered more access to technology without directly purchasing access from providers. A significant catalyst for greater usage has also been the English language since English is the official language of Kenya.
  4. Mobile Network Signals: Data from a CA report covering July to September 2019 shows that mobile phone users are purchasing more than one SIM card in order to gain access to new services and products, thereby increasing overall mobile subscriptions among the population. During that period of time, subscriptions increased 4.1 percent from the previous quarter.
  5. Fiber Optic Cables: In order to support a more robust data infrastructure and increase internet access in Kenya, companies like Telkom have expanded undersea fiber optic cables, known as “backbones,” that hold together multiple company networks to build capacity and expand regional access. If one line fails, the backbone is able to reroute internet traffic.
  6. Public Wifi Zones: In 2019, telecommunication companies like Telkom Enterprise, Safaricom and Poa! introduced WiFi zones in urban centers, offering wifi access either free or reduced in cost. In partnership with Nairobi County, the Link Kenya Project was developed by Telkom in Nairobi to help close the internet connectivity gap by providing free wireless internet access to three major urban centers in Nairobi. Project “innovation hubs” include 55-inch LCD displays that show ads in order to pay for support. Telkom aims to bring free public WiFi access to most major cities and towns in Kenya, claiming that portions of the population were unable to purchase subscriptions due to high costs.

Kenya’s agenda to digitize the country and economy were spurred in part by the government’s investment in information technology and communication technology in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Since then, commercial access to the internet ballooned through government investment, the spread of mobile technology and technological innovations of private companies. Although not yet at 100 percent coverage, these six initiatives to close the internet connectivity gap in Kenya demonstrate how a country can leap into the digital age when government and business work in tandem.

Caleb Cummings
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

10 Facts about Corruption in Kenya
Kenya is one of the world’s most corrupted countries. In 2017, Kenya ranked 143 out of 180 countries on Transparency International’s (TI) corruption index. High corruption levels permeating every sector of Kenya’s economy and politics is hindering development and endangering democracy. These 10 facts about corruption in Kenya provide a brief overview of this issue, as well as the anti-graft attempts made by the government and other private organizations.

10 Facts About Corruption in Kenya

  1. Corruption and terrorism: The high level of corruption in Kenya not only undermines counter-terrorism efforts but also provides extremists with funding, access and motivation. Kenya’s security and police force are known to take bribes and collaborate with extremists, allowing easy access for al-Shabaab operatives, which has resulted in the loss of hundreds of lives.
  2. Police: The Kenya Police Service is the most bribery-prone institution in Kenya. Seventy-five percent of Kenyans believe that most or all police officers are corrupt, and one-in-two Kenyans who have interacted with the police report bribing them. The police force frequently engages in corruption crimes such as false imprisonment, fabrication of charges and abuse of human rights to extort bribes, but are rarely arrested or prosecuted.
  3. Perception of government effort: A 2017 survey shows that 67 percent of respondents from Kenya do not think that the government is putting enough effort into fighting corruption. The respondents rated the anti-corruption performance of the president as average, while the judiciary and legislative service were rated as poor.
  4. Reporting corruption: Journalists often face increasing pressure from the government and new laws that limit their capacity to report freely. Many choose to self-censor. Tipping about corruption is a high-risk endeavor, resulting in being fired, harassed or even murdered. One blogger was arrested in Kenya after reporting on corruption, and another was sent into exile in the U.K. after exposing graft and fraud in the Kenyan government. However, the country’s private media outlets still publish a variety of views and critical reporting.
  5. Financial cost: The country’s anti-graft chief estimates that up to a third of Kenya’s state budget, an equivalent of $6 billion, is lost to corruption annually. Kenya has lost approximately $66 billion to corruption since its independence in 1964. The exact scale of corruption, however, is unknown.
  6. President Kenyatta’s war on corruption: In a recent crackdown, 28 Kenyan high-profile officials, including the Kenyan Finance Minister, have been charged with financial crimes. This marks a turning point for Kenya when someone as high-profile as the country’s finance minister is being held to account in court. However, many Kenyans still hold doubts over this recent crackdown as there have not been any convictions for Kenyan public officials previously charged with corruption.
  7. Engaging citizens in the fight against corruption: The TI-Kenya have Integrity Clubs in primary and secondary schools that teach anti-corruption lessons to students, helping them become more active citizens who promote good values. It also organizes mobile anti-corruption legal advice clinics to raise awareness of corruption and their rights in remote rural areas of the country. In just 12 months after the launch of these clinics, TI-Kenya has received almost 4,000 reports from citizens.
  8. Assistance from the U.S.: The Kenyan government signed an agreement with the U.S. to introduce new anti-graft measures during the former U.S. President Obama’s visit to Kenya in 2015. The deal includes increased assistance and advice from the U.S. on relevant legislation, as well as Kenya’s participation in the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.
  9. Business impairment: Pervasive corruption is one of the biggest obstacles for Kenya’s business sector, scaring away foreign investors. Public-service corruption makes starting a business very costly and complying with administrative requirements extremely time-consuming. One-in-six companies report having to pay bribes to get operating licenses, and one-in-three companies need to bribe to obtain a construction permit.
  10. Support from the U.N.: The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) applauds President Kenyatta’s recent renewed pledge to fight corruption in Kenya and make the issue a focus area in the coming months. The U.N. continues its assistance and support of the anti-corruption efforts through several partnerships with the government and the private sectors, including the Blue Company Initiative Project, the Fast Tracking UN Convention Against Corruption project and the Programme for Legal Empowerment and Aid Delivery in Kenya. The Kenya School for Government is also working closely with UNODC on an online anti-corruption course for public officials.

These 10 facts about corruption in Kenya provide an overview of the critical issues threatening the development of the African nation. A long list of corruption scandals have plagued Kenya ever since its independence, leading to billions of dollars being lost. Corruption in Kenya is a serious problem that urgently needs to be addressed and resolved in order for the nation to grow and harness its potential.

Minh-Ha La
Photo: Flickr

7 Facts about Technology in Kenya
Kenya is a small coastal nation in northeast Africa. Known as a popular tourist destination, people praise Kenya for its tea exports, beautiful landscapes and rich biodiversity. Currently, Kenya is engaged in a rapid expansion of its information technology sector. This makes it one of the notable tech hubs in the developing world. Here are seven facts about technology in Kenya.

7 Facts About Technology in Kenya

  1. Nicknamed the “Silicon Savannah,” Kenya is regarded as the second-best innovation hub in Sub-Saharan Africa. Tech start-ups thrive in Kenya, due in part to the ready availability of credit lines and other forms of financing. 2019 was the ninth consecutive year Kenya exceeded the innovation relative to GDP figures expected from middle-income nations.
  2. Mobile financial transaction apps are especially popular in Kenya. Nearly 70 percent of the population uses these apps regularly. This is partially because the Kenyan government privatized the state-managed telecommunication services, leading to the eventual emergence of Safaricom, the now dominant face of telecommunications in Kenya. Safaricom debuted its first money-transfer app, M-Pesa, in 2007.
  3. M-Pesa is not the only successful mobile app in Kenya. Farmer Su Kahumbu Stephanou created iCow in 2011. iCow’s original function enabled farmers to monitor their cows’ breeding cycles and milk production. iCow gradually updated to feature advice and information for farmers to use to maximize their income potential. Since iCow runs on SMS, it’s available to farmers who can only afford older models of mobile phones.
  4. Kenya’s once outdated telecommunications networks are now some of the most cutting edge in Africa. Kenyans residing in urban areas have easy access to fast and affordable internet. The internet infrastructure in rural areas is catching up. Internet subscription rates increased from 29.6 percent in 2017 to 41.1 percent in 2018. As of June 2018, 97.8 percent of Kenyans owned a mobile phone subscription.
  5. iHub, a technology-focused co-working facility in Nairobi, opened in 2010. Today, it houses dozens of tech companies, researchers and entrepreneurs. iHub and Nairobi’s other tech incubators and innovation centers have enticed foreign venture capitalists and international companies like Google and Microsoft to invest in the local tech scene. Funding for tech startups rose 92.7 million USD in 2016, to 147 million the following year. In 2020, Nairobi will host the Next Einstein Forum, Africa’s marquee science and technology conference.
  6. A study conducted by the International Development Research Center in partnership with Oxford Insights determined that Kenya is well-equipped to utilize artificial intelligence (AI) technology solutions. Kenya employs some AI technologies, including sexual and reproductive health monitoring chat bots. While 78 percent of Kenya’s largest corporations have integrated modern IT solutions into business operations, only 20 to 40 percent of the nation’s smaller-scale businesses have done so.
  7. Kenya’s early success in tech enterprises encouraged the government to double-down in support of its new industry. The national Internet Communications Technology board worked with iHub on multiple projects. The government also instituted Vision 2030, a strategy to construct the infrastructure backbone necessary for further IT development. Plans are even underway to design and build a new city meant to serve as a national tech-hub. These plans are estimated to cost as much as 7 billion USD.

Although still in its early stages, Kenya’s emerging technology sector has quickly grown into a lucrative slice of the national economic pie. These seven facts about technology in Kenya show that the country is innovative and has made great progress in improving the availability of technology to its citizens.

Dan Zamarelli
Photo: Flickr

Sanitation in KenyaLike many regions of Africa, Kenya is a country that has a history of problems regarding sanitation and access to clean water. As of 2019, the levels of clean water and sanitation in Kenya are still critically low but efforts are being made to change the status quo. Water.org and other organizations are responsible for many of these improvements. Below are 10 facts about the sanitation and water crisis in Kenya.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Kenya

  1. According to Water.org, 41 percent of people in Kenya rely on water sources such as ponds, rivers and wells. However, 71 percent use unimproved sanitation solutions. Water.org has also reported that only nine out of 55 public water services in Kenya have provided continuous access to water.
  2. In 2010, Water.org introduced a large-scale initiative known as “WaterCredit,” which provides small loans to enable greater access to clean water and sanitation services. Through this initiative, the organization partnered with microfinance and commercial financial institutions, managing to provide more than 425,00 Kenyans and Ugandans with access to clean water.
  3. The United Nations has classified Kenya as a water-scarce nation. This means the country has one of the lowest national water replenishment rates. Furthermore, only 56 percent of the nation’s citizens have access to clean water.
  4. In Kenya, 50 percent of people who check into a hospital due to preventable diseases suffer from illnesses related to sanitation and water.
  5. Approximately 50 percent of rural households in Kenya do not have toilet facilities. In addition, the ones that do have access are often known to be unhygienic.
  6. One program attempting to solve the issue of water and sanitation in Kenya is the Water and Environmental Sanitation program (WES). Their main goal is to increase the utilization of safe drinking water. They also aim to improve sanitation and hygiene practices in houses, schools and health facilities. The program has led to the adoption of the Hygiene and Sanitation policy.
  7. As of 2019, estimates show that less than 60 percent of people in Kenya have access to safe and basic drinking water. In addition, only 29 percent of Kenyans have access to safe and basic service sanitation.
  8. U.S. government agencies such as USAID have made various investments in Kenya to help solve the water and sanitation crisis. They utilize market-based models that aim to close financing gaps through sustainable business models, increased public funding and expanded market finance for infrastructure investments. These efforts will allow for universal access to water and sanitation in Kenya. By 2020, it is estimated that the USAID’s work will provide more than one million people in Kenya with access to basic water and sanitation supplies.
  9. Throughout 2018 and 2019, Kenya suffered from two seasons of poor rainfall. This resulted in deteriorating rates of water, hygiene and sanitation in Kenya’s arid and semi-arid areas. As a result, the Kenyan government reported worsening drought conditions in 20 ASAL counties. This also includes 15 counties in the Alert phase and 5 counties in the Alarm phase.
  10. Thanks to the organization, World Vision, it is estimated that around 15,000 people in Kenya have benefitted from clean water as a result of various boreholes, rainwater tanks and pipelines. Among these benefits includes the ability to shower and wash clothes.

A lack of access to clean water and sanitation in Kenya continues to affect much of the country. Thankfully, the efforts from organizations such as Water.org, USAID and World Vision are alleviating these problems. Like much of Africa, Kenya has a long way to go before reaching sanitation goals; however, hope remains a part of these organizations’ driving factors.

– Adam Abuelheiga
Photo: Flickr

Industrialization in Kenya
With a current growth rate hovering between 5 and 6 percent, Kenya is one of the fastest-growing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa. Industrialization in Kenya, as part of Vision 2030, is a priority that could help transform the agriculture-dependent country into a developed economy. According to Kenya’s Ministry of Industrialization and Enterprise Development, its three main goals include increasing foreign investment, improving the business environment and reducing corruption. Kenya has a massive goal of reaching a GDP of $211 billion. That would be approximately the same GDP as Romania in 2017. Kenya’s GDP increased from $18 billion in 2005 to $78 billion in 2017. The 2017 figure was $17 billion more than expected. China is one foreign investor that sees potential in developing Kenya’s economy.

Why Develop Kenya?

One side effect of developing an economy is a reduced poverty rate. Approximately 60 percent of Kenyans work in the agriculture industry, which is typical for developing economies. A developed economy such as the U.S. involves a mostly service dependent economy.

A drought-affected part of Kenya in 2017 slowed GDP growth, increased inflation to 8 percent and harmed the economy. President Uhuru Kenyatta acknowledged the need for industrialization in Kenya and the country’s dependence on agriculture. Vision 2030 includes increasing manufacturing from 11 percent of Kenya’s GDP to 20 percent of its GDP and focuses on developing its oil, minerals, tourism, infrastructure and geothermal sectors.

Businesses and countries investing in Kenya could add jobs for Kenyans, help diversify into a new market and improve trade between the two entities. Foreign direct investment was $1.6 billion in 2018. The United Kingdom, China, Belgium, the Netherlands and South Africa are the main investors. Banking, tourism, mining, infrastructure and information and communications technology are some of the investment sectors for these countries.

First Steps to Industrialization in Kenya

China is a major investor in Kenyan infrastructure. The Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) costs $3.6 billion and connects the capital with the largest city in Kenya. The China Road and Bridge Corporation hired more than 25,000 Kenyans to work on the railway that opened in 2017. It extended the railway to Naivasha in October 2019. More than one million people rode the SGR in 2018.

China Road and Bridge Corporation also invested in the Nairobi Southern Bypass Highway that relieves congestion through the capital city Nairobi by redirecting traffic to and from the port city of Mombasa. Mombasa has a population of over three million and receives visitors from Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and South Sudan. “There is no doubt the infrastructure projects financed and developed by China are making a huge impact in the country, especially when you look at the ease of travel and employment opportunities,” said Philip Mainga, managing director of Kenya Railway Corporation.

The World Bank also helped rural regions with its Kenya Informal Settlements Improvement Project. The project involved the construction of more than 60 miles of roads. Also, the project built 52 miles of footpaths, 66 miles of drainage canals, 39 miles of sewer pipelines, 68 miles of water pipelines and 134 security lights by its end date of November 2019.

Progress Ongoing in Kenya

Various organizations completed many other projects that have benefitted millions of Kenyans. Vision 2030 includes ambitious goals that will benefit its economy and people through job growth, key sectors growth and poverty reduction. One of Kenya’s key sectors, tourism, already saw a 5.6 percent growth in 2018, which is higher than the global average of 3.9 percent. The Information and Communication Technology sector saw an average growth of 10.8 percent since 2016, giving Kenya its “Silicon Savannah” name. Kenya’s poverty rate continues to decline as the country develops. Its poverty rate lowered from 46 percent in 2005 to 36 percent in 2016, demonstrating that progress is ongoing in poverty reduction and industrialization in Kenya.

Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

childhood cancer in Kenya

The World Health Organization (WHO) has ranked cancer as a leading case of death in children. Globally, the leading types of childhood cancers are cancer of the white blood cells and brain tumors. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the most common types are non-Hodgkins lymphoma, kidney cancer and bone marrow cancer. This article explains eight facts about childhood cancer in Kenya.

8 Facts About Childhood Cancer in Kenya

  1. Child Cancer Causes: According to the American Cancer Society, while known lifestyle-related factors can increase the risk of developing cancer in adults, the same is not true for children. Dr. William Macharia, a pediatrician based in Nairobi, Kenya, explained that the peak age of childhood cancer is between 3 and 7 years old which is not enough time for environmental factors to cause cancer. Instead, many believe that wrong cell division and multiplication after conception is the cause.
  2. Childhood Cancer Survival Rate: Only 20 percent of children with cancer in Kenya survive. This is in contrast to the developed countries where up to 80 percent of children with cancer survive. Once again, one can attribute this to the late diagnosis as well as the lack of specialized training and other challenges children face in getting treatment.
  3. Hospice Care Kenya: Hospice Care Kenya reports that only 1 percent of children in Kenya have access to appropriate palliative care. A large majority of children with cancer, therefore, die in pain and isolation. Hospice Care Kenya is working to improve palliative care in Kenya so that children could receive appropriate care which could enhance their quality of life and death.
  4. Radiation and Chemotherapy: One of the biggest challenges in treating childhood cancer is that radiation and chemotherapy have a lasting, damaging effect on children’s bodies. A study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology shows that by the age of 50, more than half of those who survived childhood cancer experience a severe, disabling or life-threatening event and this could include death. This shows that more research is necessary to develop better treatment and care models for children diagnosed with cancer.
  5. Financial Challenges: One of the reasons why childhood cancer in Kenya does not receive diagnosis or treatment is because families experience financial difficulties in dealing with it. To begin with, most of the medical facilities where treatment is available are in urban centers so those from rural areas have to travel long distances to access them. Additionally, the cost of treatment, medicine and health insurance is too high for families to afford. When faced with the difficult choice of paying for the sick child and clothing, feeding and educating the rest of the family, families often choose the latter. World Child Cancer reports that almost 30 percent of children who begin treatment do not complete it.
  6. Limited Medical Training: There is a lack of specialized training of medical practitioners which leads to late diagnosis of childhood cancer in Kenya. By the time most children have a cancer diagnosis, the illness is already in its advanced stages. This is unfortunate because when people know they have cancer early enough, they can obtain treatment or at least manage the disease.
  7. The Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer and Shoe4Africa: The WHO announced the Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer in September 2018. The initiative aims to reach a survival rate of at least 60 percent for children with cancer by 2030. Shoe4Africa plans to start Africa’s first children’s cancer hospital in Eldoret, Kenya. The organization opened Sub-Saharan Africa’s second public children’s hospital in Eldoret and currently, 400 patients receive treatment at the hospital every day.
  8. Funding for Cancer Treatment: The government of Kenya provides funding to the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, which diagnoses over 100 children with cancer in a year. While this helps to ease the burden for families, it is not enough to cover all the costs. The majority of patients, therefore, have to pay out-of-pocket for their medical expenses. In Kenyatta National Hospital, the largest hospital in Kenya, the Israeli embassy renovated and equipped the children’s cancer wards to ensure that the children are comfortable while seeking treatment.

There is an urgent need for different sectors to come together and set up effective ways of dealing with childhood cancer in Kenya. These methods must also be affordable to all citizens. Kenyans can look to the successes of developed countries as an example. Beyond that, the public needs to receive more education on childhood cancers. This can happen through public health awareness campaigns such as those Kenya used to successfully inform and educate the public on diseases such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.

– Sophia Wanyonyi
Photo: Flickr