Decline of Kenya: What Happened and What Can be Done?

When trying to find a country to research, I thought immediately of a friend that recently traveled to Africa.  An economic major herself, she is interested in organizations and discusses often the major problems that the country of Kenya is currently having.  She often talks about the extremely unequal distribution of wealth that she witnessed which keeps a select few living comfortably while many spend their days sleeping in slums with no work or homes.  Worldbank notes that close to half of the population earns less than $1 per day while in the US this is around $360.  Half of all rural Kenya, which includes about 9 million people, live below the poverty line and the life expectancy of the nation is only 54 years of age.

Many of Kenya’s problems stem from corruption within the government and an almost complete economic reliance on several primary goods whose prices have remained low.   Weak overall infrastructure of the country means that nearly all the rural population are to rely on their own farming for income and school fees are often out of reach for poverty stricken families. Furthermore, the harsh climate and frequent drought keep many who rely on farming struggling throughout the year.  Cultural biases towards women create further limitations for the growing number of female-led households.

There are considerable obstacles for starting a starting a small business in Kenya as well. It was stated in an article, Fragile Kenya, “We’re in a very unstable situation.  Kenya is like a car slowly sliding backwards and the gears have stopped working.”   This same article from the Economist says, “Kenya’s high level of corruption still permeates virtually all levels of business, from massive infrastructural projects worth tens of millions of dollars to buying a license for a shop.  Western governments have sought to shame and occasionally name the worst culprits, once in a while withholding aid to particular projects.”  Because of this, many Kenyans are linked to their farm and therefore rely heavily on the climate for any source of income.  The government does little to boost the economy which is continuing to decline each year.  Although Kenya has somewhat recovered from what was almost a civil war after the last election, the government is still divided and ultimately considered corrupt and unable to make decisions that benefit the nation as a whole.

Kenya’s problems are furthered by the lack of healthcare and the spread of AIDS within the nation and those around it.  Now there are more people living in urban slums city than the number of people living normally in them. One organization focusing on ending poverty and ending human suffering is Africaid.  This group fights t for economic reform and an increase in education all over Africa in hopes to rebuild the economy.  Similarly the Global Call to Action Against Poverty or GCAP aims to get rid of poverty and end inequality by improving the structure of government policy.

Despite the work that these activist groups contribute in hoping to make a difference within the country, Kenya continues to grow more and more unstable.  Without the support of the government, these organizations are having trouble making any notable strides.

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2 Responses

  1. You bring up the point that school fees are often infeasible for poor Kenyan families. Perhaps if this problem is addressed many of the other problems would improve as a result? An educated population can be beneficial in many ways and decrease poverty as these individuals will be able to perform better, higher paying jobs. Maybe Kenya needs an organization committed to providing financial assistance so that all children can attend schools (if one does not already exist).

  2. How many people in the U.S.A earn $360. a day?

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