Poverty in Kenya

About Kenya

Kenya is an east African country named for Mount Kenya, the second-highest mountain in Africa.

Kenya Map
Kenya Map

Kenya is located at the East Coast of Africa bordering Indian Ocean to the Southeast, Somalia to the East, Ethiopia to the North, Sudan to the Northwest, Tanzania to the Southwest, and Uganda to the West, with the Equator dividing the country into almost two equal halves. Kenya ranks 22nd in terms of size within the African continent with an area of 587,900 sq. km. (58,900,000 hectares), out of which 57,670,000 hectares is land surface. 46,140,000 hectares (83%) of the land surface is classified as arid and semi-arid, with the remaining 11,530,000 hectares (17%) being classified as medium to high potential.

Over 30 million people live grouped into more than 70 ethnic tribes. Eight out of ten Kenyans live in rural areas, mostly farmers in dispersed settlements rather than villages. The remaining population is concentrated in the urban areas of Nairobi (the capital) and Mombassa.

Ethnic division, drought, poverty and AIDS account for many of Kenya’s problems. With one of the highest rates of population growth in the world, exacerbated by recurring drought, Kenya no longer is able to feed itself and imports large quantities of food.

About ActionAid and the Get on Board Campaign

Below is how Action Aid defines itself:

We are an international development agency whose aim is to fight poverty worldwide. Formed in 1972, for over 30 years we have been growing and expanding to where we are today – helping over 13 million of the world’s poorest and most disadvantaged people in 42 countries worldwide.

In all of our country programmes we work with local partners to make the most of their knowledge and experience.

In December 2003 we established a new head office in Johannesburg, South Africa, and began the process of making all our country programmes equal partners with an equal say on how we operate.

Crowd in Kenya at the Action Aid rallyWe work with local partners to fight poverty and injustice worldwide, reaching over 13 million of the poorest and most vulnerable people over the last year alone, helping them fight for and gain their rights to food, shelter, work, education, healthcare and a voice in the decisions that affect their lives.

Our partners range from small community support groups to national alliances and international networks seeking education for all, trade justice and action against HIV/AIDS. Our work with these national and international campaign networks highlights the issues that affect poor people and influences the way governments and international institutions think.

We have a unique vision and direction. We don’t impose solutions, but work with communities over many years to strengthen their own efforts to throw off poverty. We constantly seek new solutions and ask ourselves how we can make the greatest impact with our resources. We make the most of our skills and abilities by working at many levels – local, national, regional and international.

On May 03, 2005, Action Aid rallied in Kenya:

President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya joined 5,000 activists at a Get on Board rally in Nairobi to launch ActionAid’s HIV/AIDS campaign.

The president committed to scale up the fight against HIV and AIDS in Kenya. He pledged to “fight the disease until we stop it”, and he called for everyone in Kenya to join the campaign.

This was the climax to a day that kicked off at 7.30am for the Get on Board team at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, a well-known landmark here in Nairobi.

Several activists were already there when we arrived – dressed in the by now familiar red campaign t-shirts.

And by about 10am we were joined by about 5,000 others. One of the activists’ leaders, Inviolata Mwali Mmbwavi, called them ‘the community in red’.

Many came with their banners and soon we had messages all around the square.

At about 9.45am there was a huge surge of energy when Kayamba Africa, a popular hip hop band in Kenya, came to the stage.

Poverty in Kenya (Reuters/Thomas Mukoya)
Kenyan children peer near a stream passing through Kibera, one of the biggest slums in East Africa and home to nearly a million people, after a march organised by the ‘Get on Board’ campaign organised by Action Aid in Nairobi May 4, 2005.

The ‘Get on Board’ team set off on March 2005 on a journey from South Africa to the G8 Summit which will take place in Gleaneagles, Scotland on July 6-8, 2005 to find out how aid, trade and debt affect the people in Africa.

We then returned to our seats to be more passive spectators for the rest of the proceedings, which included an evangelical choir, girl singers, drama, comedy, and speeches – there was something for everyone.

One of the speeches was by the Minister for Health, Charity Ngilu, and she received a big show of support from the crowd when she called HIV and AIDS “our disease” and urged the President to help fight the stigma and discrimination by going to the slums and the villages to show solidarity with the people living with and fighting HIV and AIDS.

Source: Kate Nustedt, getonboard.actionaid.org