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
Photo: Flickr