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Sida's work in Kenya

Kenya has rich agriculture, relatively well-developed industries and a large tourist industry driven by the countries wildlife. Widespread corruption presents a significant problem. Sida contributes to the country’s development in the fields of the environment, climate, democracy, human rights and opportunities for citizens to improve their lives.

Sida’s support to Kenya 2020

Progress has been made

70%

of energy comes from renewable sources. Over the past ten years, Kenya has made significant strides in renewable energy. Today, 70% of the electricity used comes from renewable sources – three times the global average.¹

A new constitution improves balance of power

In 2010, Kenya adopted and enacted a new, progressive constitution intended to achieve a more equitable balance of power and transfer some political powers from the president to parliament and the country’s 47 county assemblies, bringing them closer to citizens.


Prohibition of female genital mutilation

Kenya’s president has expressed the goal of completely eradicating female genital mutilation by 2022, some 10 years after the practice was made illegal.

Challenges remain

Widening social gaps

Inequality – between rich and poor, urban and rural, and women and men – is prevalent in the country, even more so than in most of Kenya’s neighbouring countries.

Ecosystems under threat

Rapid population growth, environmental degradation, pollution and climate change threaten both ecosystems and the ability of people to support themselves.

Widespread corruption

Corruption is endemic, systematic and structural, benefitting those in power and especially harming those living in poverty. According to the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), Kenya is ranked in 124th place out of 180 countries.²

Sida’s support to Kenya

Approximately 80% of the population live in poverty, with 45% of children living in severe poverty.³ Kenya is the largest economy in East Africa and the regional centre for sectors such as finance and IT. The period around the 2017 presidential election was especially turbulent, with violent protests and an election result that was annulled by Kenya’s Supreme Court, which ordered a new election. Since the second election, the political situation has remained relatively stable. Kenya’s economy and the living conditions of citizens continue to be adversely affected by political unrest, widespread corruption, and recurrent droughts and floods.

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

Environmental issues largely affect Kenya’s rural population. Three out of four Kenyans work in agriculture either full or part-time and 80% of the population is dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods. While Kenya is highly dependent on its natural resources, these are not sustainably managed. Deforestation, pollution and the destruction of farmland threatens biodiversity, human health and livelihoods, and leads to conflicts over land and water. The level of environmental damage is significant and climate change is heightening the risk of severe natural disasters.4

Agriculture better equipped to cope with drought

Kenyan agriculture is highly vulnerable to the droughts and floods that the country suffers on a recurring basis. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) works to ensure that the government, regions and households are better equipped to deal with recurring crises through initiatives such as increasing access to water and identifying methods to make agriculture more resilient against drought.

The WFP website

Access to clean water

According to Unicef, 41 percent of the population does not have access to clean water.5 Sida supports the Water Sector Trust Fund, which increases access to clean water and sanitation in Kenya, both in rural areas and in cities. For example, latrines are built in schools. Sida also supports village groups to develop their natural resource-based sources of income, such as tree planting and animal husbandry, through World Vision in collaboration with the Northern Rangeland Trust and the Stockholm Environment Institute. At the same time, the risk of local conflicts is also reduced.

The Water Sector Trust Fund web page

Renewable energy for vulnerable groups

According to the World Bank, three quarters of the population has access to electricity, although this percentage falls sharply in rural areas.6 UNICEF works to ensure that the most vulnerable members of society, especially children, girls and young women, have access to renewable electricity.

The work in Kenya on the UNICEF web page

Democracy, gender equality and human rights

Although respect for human rights has improved somewhat since the 2017 elections, there has been some deterioration during the COVID-19 pandemic. The country’s democratic system is under threat from corruption. Since Kenya increased its military presence in and on the border with Somalia, the number of terrorist attacks has increased. Women and children are severely negatively impacted by poverty, plus many become victims of gender-based violence. Relatively few women participate in political activities.

More effective public authorities

Since the new constitution entered into force, a number of public authorities have begun change work. Kenyan tax, audit and statistical authorities, the police and prison service all cooperate with corresponding Swedish public authorities to develop their operations; for example, Sida supports cooperation between Statistics Sweden and the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics focused on developing reliable and usable gender equality statistics.

Kenya National Bureau of Statistics

Local work to promote human rights

The activities of Kenya’s civil society and media are constrained by restrictive laws and many journalists and political activists are subjected to threats and violence. Police brutality, extralegal executions, and political and ethnic violence are all too common. Via Diakonia and Forum Syd, Sida supports some 50 civil society organisations that work to increase gender equality and respect for human rights and provide citizens with greater opportunities to hold policymakers to account.

The work in Kenya on the Diakonia website

Political power devolved to local citizens

Through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Sida supports efforts to devolve political power from the president and parliament to county assemblies, and thus closer to citizens. This is intended to increase the political influence of ordinary Kenyans, prevent ethnic tensions and make social services available to more people.

About Kenya on the UNDP website

Employment, social security and market development

Despite economic developments, the gap between rich and poor continues to grow. While Kenya is the economic centre of the region, the financial market has not yet developed to the extent that the country can reap the benefits of international trade. Unemployment is high and the majority of the population work in the informal sector, where they lack basic labour rights

More productive agriculture

While agriculture provides a large percentage of the country’s jobs and export earnings, the sector is inefficient and vulnerable to climate change. Sida supports the country’s agricultural reform via the Agricultural Sector Development Support Programme (ASDSP) to make the agricultural sector more modern, productive, and sustainable. This provides farmers with greater opportunities to sell their products, thus creating jobs and increasing incomes and food security.

ASDSP web page

Meaningful employment for young people

Unemployment is particularly high among young people in rural areas. The Generation Kenya programme helps young people living in poverty to obtain meaningful employment on fair terms. The programme offers training and then matches young people with companies looking for staff. Over 350 Kenyan companies are involved in this collaboration.

Generation Kenya website

A social safety net

Many of the Kenyans living in poverty do not have access to basic public services. With Sida’s support, Kenya is building up a national social safety net system. The ultimate goal is for even the most vulnerable to have access to healthcare, food and cash support. The programme focuses on children, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

Updated: 1 July 2021