Poverty in Kenya
Poverty in Kenya is on the decline. Between 2005-06 and 2015-16, the percentage of Kenyans living under the international poverty line (characterized in 2011 as US$1.90 per day) decreased from 46.8% to 36.1%. Kenyan poverty is currently decreasing by 1% yearly, a rate which is ahead of some countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Still, the rate of poverty reduction in Kenya falls short of most nations in the lower-middle-income range.

The majority of impoverished Kenyans are in the rural, northeastern regions of the country. In Kenya, only 72% of homes possess viable drinking water. This is 4% above the average in the Sub-Sahara, but below countries like Ghana and Rwanda. In 2015 records showed 84% of Kenya’s population over 14 years of age were literate. This constitutes an 11% increase from Kenya’s 2005 literacy statistics.

While overall poverty in Kenya is decreasing, there is still much that people can do. Here are three of the many organizations creating change in Kenya and SSA more broadly:

The Boma Project

In its mission statement, The Boma Project states that it “empowers women in the drylands of Africa to establish sustainable livelihoods, build resilient families, graduate from extreme poverty and catalyze change in their rural communities.” The Boma Project creates triads of women and provides them with financial support in order to begin and grow their businesses. It also provides these women with two years of mentorship. Currently, 159,684 women and children have received support from The Boma Project.

Daate Inyakh of northern Kenya lives in an area with little access to water and often fought to feed herself and her six girls. In 2014, Inyakh began receiving help from The Boma Project. This gave her the opportunity through training and financial aid to start her own business. Inyakh’s triad is now in charge of their own shop and she is in the process of learning to read.

The Makuyu Education Initiative (MEI)

MEI is a very small nonprofit founded in 2011 that operates in Makuyu, Kenya. The organization provides children of the ultra-poor in this region with the opportunity to “escape the vicious cycle of poverty by fighting malnutrition and other obstacles that can deter them from reaching their full potential.” MEI provides a home for any children in the program, many of whom are orphans. It gives these children holistic support in education, health care and consistent meals. MEI relies on volunteers and donations in order to accomplish its important work.

African Childrens Haven

African Childrens Haven protects some of Kenya’s, Ethiopia’s and Tanzania’s most impoverished children and their families. Primarily, the organization takes care of orphaned children who lost their parents to HIV/AIDS. This organization’s work focuses on girls. African Childrens Haven supports these children by providing scholarships, regular meals and sexual education. It also works to prevent child marriage and sex trafficking. The organization provides its services to more than 700 children.

These three organizations are a few among many addressing the multifaceted reality of poverty in Kenya. Engagement and donation to causes like these provide anyone with a tangible avenue to help make a difference.

Clara Collins
Photo: Flickr

Improving Education
Education is essential to achieving a higher quality of life. Many individuals in developing countries find it difficult to access quality education due to poverty, violent conflict and a myriad of other issues.

Global access to education may seem like a daunting problem, but there are numerous organizations you can support to increase a child’s access to education in the developing world.

The African Children’s Educational Trust (A-CET)

A-CET focuses on developing education in Ethiopia. It provides long-term scholarships to at-risk children that are funded by individual donations. The charity also works to improve and build schools within the country.

The BOMA Project

The BOMA Project is based in the U.S. and strives to better the lives of women in drought-prone areas. The organization gives grants to women within various communities as well as provides a two-year “poverty graduation program” which teaches these women how to run a small business.

By educating vulnerable women about business, the BOMA Project helps to create self-sustainable communities. The NGO is only operating in Kenya currently, but it hopes to expand its reach in the near future.

She’s the First

She’s the First is another organization focused on impoverished women within developing countries. The NGO provides girls throughout the world with the resources and connections essential to a quality education and future.


UNICEF is a well-known UN program dedicated to providing aid to developing countries. Access to education in these countries is among the numerous humanitarian issues UNICEF aims to address through collaboration with governments and NGOs.

Save the Children

Save the Children was originally founded in London in 1919 to address hunger caused by World War I. Today, the organization fights for vulnerable children throughout the world. Through teacher training and empowering parents and their children, Save the Children helps improve the quality of education in developing countries.

All of these organizations strive to increase education in the developing world. While some work on a smaller level, they are all making a difference. Donating or even volunteering for these and similar organizations are just a few ways you can help a child in need access a quality education and escape the cycle of poverty.

Saroja Koneru

Photo: Flickr

The BOMA Project Mentors Kenyans in Running Successful Businesses

The BOMA Project works with women living in Kenya and other arid and drought-prone regions in helping them receive the resources, training and funds they need to start up their own businesses. Another aspect of the BOMA Project also helps Kenyan women pay for school, food and healthcare. Since 2009, 8,481 women have enrolled with the BOMA Project to successfully launch 2,651 businesses. In total, women who have enrolled with the BOMA Project have been able to provide care for over 42,250 dependent children.

The BOMA Project was started by Kathleen Colson after she was invited by a local elected official, with whom she attended Saint Lawrence University, to visit Northern Kenya. After many years of working as president of African Safari Planners and leading many excursions through Africa, she came to the conclusion something needed to be done to help those affected by drought.

When drought strikes, livestock die in herds, leaving families with no source of income, which in turn hinders them from being able to buy the food and supplies that they need to survive. After drought occurs, the men of the family leave the women and children at home to go find suitable grazing land. Oftentimes, women are left with no means for food or aid for up to six months. The BOMA Project works to train these women to find other sources of income from starting up their own businesses.

During her many trips to Northern Kenya, Colson met with village elders, faith leaders, local residents and community development workers to gain a true understanding of life in Kenya. While she spent lots of her time there listening to these people, she also focused on hearing what the women of Kenya had to say about life there. Her compassion was piqued by the struggles, challenges and failing solutions about which the Kenyan women spoke.

Colson and Kura Omar, her guide and translator, concluded training women to start and maintain their own businesses would help best alleviate poverty during droughts. Through the BOMA Project, they enacted the Rural Entrepreneur Aspect Project (REAP), which provides women with a two-year poverty graduation program that gives them a cash grant, training in the business and sustainability field and training from local mentors.

Once the businesses are earning profits, usually after six months, members of REAP work with BOMA representatives in establishing savings accounts to prepare for droughts in the future. The BOMA Project has successfully helped over 50,000 women and children in surviving drought season. By 2018, the BOMA Project hopes to double that to over 100,000.

Julia Hettiger

Sources: BOMA Project, Aid for Africa, Dining for Women
Photo: BOMANomad