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Sida's work in Kenya

Kenya has a rich agricultural sector, fairly well-developed industry, and wildlife that attracts many tourists. Uneven income distribution, widespread corruption and climate change remain challenges. Sida contributes to the country's development in the areas of environment and climate, democracy, human rights, gender equality and economic development that benefit all people.

Progress has been made

73 %

of energy in Kenya is renewable – three times the global average. Although Kenya accounts for less than 0.1 % of global emissions, it is participating in efforts to limit temperature rise. Kenya is committed to achieving 100 % renewable energy by 2030 and zero emissions by 2050.¹

Lower middle-income country

Economic growth in recent years has contributed to Kenya now being classified as a lower middle-income country. Investment is increasing, trade barriers are decreasing and new trade agreements are being signed. Corruption is an obstacle, the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine are affecting the economy and inequalities are widening.2

Access to electricity is increasing

All people in urban areas will have access to electricity by 2022 and in rural areas by 2030.3 More than 40% have access to the Internet.4

Challenges remain

80 %

of the population live below or close to the poverty line. Inequality is high – between rich and poor, urban and rural, and women and men. Unemployment among young people is high, particularly for women.5

Climate change leads to drought

Rapid population growth, environmental degradation, pollution and climate change threaten both ecosystems and people’s livelihoods. Climate-related crises have become more frequent and in recent years the country has suffered from both severe drought and flooding.6

Corruption is widespread

Corruption permeates the entire society. It benefits powerful groups and particularly harms people living in poverty. Kenya is ranked 128th out of 180 countries in the corruption index, a worsening from the previous year.7

Sida’s support to Kenya

Kenya is East Africa’s largest economy and the region’s centre for finance and IT, among other things. Kenya’s economy and the living conditions of its citizens continue to be negatively affected by some political unrest, corruption and recurrent droughts and floods.

Sweden is working with the UN, the EU and others to help Kenya meet the 2030 Agenda, with a focus on green transformation and digitalisation. Sweden is increasing its support for the coordination of UN efforts in Kenya in order to strengthen Kenya’s focus on sustainability and compliance with the 2030 Agenda.

Climate change, the environment and resilience in the face of climate change

Kenya’s unique environments and rich natural resources are important assets for the country. Natural resources contribute about 42 % of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and provide 70 % of the nation’s livelihood.7 Deforestation, pollution and destruction of agricultural land threaten biodiversity, human health and livelihoods, and lead to conflicts over land and water.

Natural disasters make it harder for people to get enough food and to earn a living, especially those living in rural poverty. In autumn 2021, a national emergency was declared due to drought.

Increased resilience to climate change

The UN Food Programme (WFP) is working to help governments, regions and households better respond to recurring crises. For example, people can get better access to water by using drip irrigation and solar-powered boreholes. WFP is also training small farmers to grow crops in a climate-smart way and to diversify their income by investing in beekeeping, fish farming and poultry rearing. WFP is also working to enable farmers to borrow money.

Sida is also supporting the government’s efforts to enable the country’s regions to plan, budget and invest in climate adaptation. The Financing Locally-Led Climate Action (FLLoCA) programme is being implemented by the World Bank together with Kenyan authorities and is contributing to low carbon emissions and resilience to climate change.

More sustainable use of natural resources

Through the IMARA programme, marginalised households are better able to withstand the crises that follow climate change. This includes engaging women and young people in businesses that produce honey, rubber and animal feed, for example. Land is rehabilitated and trees replanted, access to water is increased and households use energy-efficient biogas stoves. The programme also contributes to peace-building and conflict resolution. Development of climate change policies and legislation is also included.

About the programme on IMARA’s website

Fair distribution of water and toilets

59 % of the population has access to safe drinking water, a 12 % increase compared to 2020. Nearly 30 % have access to toilets.8 The Water Sector Trust Fund (WSTF) is increasing access to clean water and toilets. This includes equitable water distribution, combating erosion and resolving conflicts over water. Water meters are installed where people take water to ensure they don’t take too much. In this way, water is distributed fairly and conflicts can be avoided.

Sida also contributes to the work of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to improve access to water, sanitation and hygiene. This prevents the spread and negative effects of diseases, particularly among vulnerable people in urban areas.

Water Sector Trust Fund’s website

Renewable electricity for vulnerable groups

Sida supports efforts to provide households with access to renewable energy, including through the REACT fund. The fund provides funding to renewable energy companies to provide energy access to low-income people outside the national grid.

bout REACT on the AECF’s website

Human rights, democracy, rule of law, gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights

People’s political and human rights are being increasingly violated and authorities use violence, torture and executions. The justice system in the country is inadequate and people are not treated equally before the law. The judiciary has made important progress towards independence, but widespread corruption and impunity mean that it still does not function properly. Media freedom is limited.

Many women are victims of domestic violence and the problem has grown during the pandemic.9 At the same time, gender equality has improved somewhat in recent years.10

Local human rights work

Kenya’s civil society and media sector are constrained by restrictive laws and many journalists and activists face intimidation and violence. Police brutality, executions and political and ethnic violence are common.

Through Diakonia and Forum Civ, Sida supports some 60 civil society organisations working to increase gender equality and respect for human rights, and to empower citizens to hold decision-makers to account. The work has helped, among other things, to improve people’s knowledge of their rights and to provide new platforms for holding those responsible to account.

Supporting the justice system

Sida’s work aims to contribute to a rule of law that treats all citizens equally and complies with laws and rules. This is done in part through the International Development Law Organisation (IDLO), which works with government agencies. For example, they support financial planning and mediation, which in 2020/2021 reduced by 3 % the number of court cases that were delayed.

About the work in Kenya on IDLO’s website

Free support for survivors of gender-based violence

In October 2021, Kenya launched its first policy on how the police should address gender-based violence. It includes free legal and psychosocial support and care for survivors of violence in all of Kenya’s 47 counties.

More effective public authorities

Since Kenya adopted a new constitution in 2010, several agencies have begun to make changes. The Kenyan tax, audit and statistics authorities, the police and the prison and probation service are working with their Swedish counterparts to develop their operations. For example, Sida is supporting cooperation between the Statistics Sweden and the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, which focuses on producing reliable and useful gender equality statistics.

Kenya National Bureau of Statistics’ website

Bringing political power closer to citizens

Through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Sida is supporting efforts to move political power closer to citizens – from the president to parliament and the country’s counties. The aim is to increase Kenyans’ influence in politics, prevent ethnic tensions and increase access to social services. The programme focuses particularly on the inclusion of women, young people and people with disabilities.

About the work in Kenya on UNDP’s website

Economic development and protection systems that include the most vulnerable

Despite economic development, the gap between rich and poor continues to grow. Kenya is the economic centre of the region, but the market has still not developed to allow the country to reap the benefits of international trade. Unemployment is high and the majority of the population works in the informal sector, where they lack employment protection.

Small business development is progressing and creativity and ingenuity are high. But they find it difficult to compete in the international market because of high taxation, high costs and widespread corruption.

Increasing incomes for small dairy farmers

The Kenya Market Led Dairy Supply Chain Programme is a partnership between producers and dairy companies that benefits small dairy farmers. The partnership increases production, improves incomes for smallholder farmers and has increased the number of women and young people in the industry. The number of milk deliveries per farmer has increased by around 30 per cent since 2018. The use of environmentally friendly production methods has also increased as a result of the cooperation. The programme also includes entrepreneurship training, which helps participants to start their own businesses.

About the programme at Openaid’s website

A more productive agriculture

Agriculture accounts for a large percentage of jobs and export earnings in Kenya, but the sector is inefficient and vulnerable to climate change. Sida is supporting the country’s agricultural reform through the Agricultural Sector Development Support Programme (ASDSP) to make the agricultural sector more modern, productive and sustainable. This increases farmers’ ability to sell their produce, which creates jobs and increases people’s income and access to food.

ASDSP’s website

Meaningful jobs for young people

Unemployment is particularly high among young people in rural areas. The Generation Kenya programme helps young people living in poverty find meaningful, decent jobs by providing training and then matching them with companies that want to hire them. The partnership involves over 350 companies in Kenya.

Generation Kenya’s website

A social protection system

Many Kenyans living in poverty do not have access to basic social services. Kenya, with Sida’s support, is improving the National Social Protection Programme (NSNP) through the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Food Programme (WFP). The aim is to ensure that even the most vulnerable have access to health care, food and cash assistance. The programme focuses on children, the elderly and people with disabilities.

Updated: October 3, 2022