In Kenya we currently support some 30,700 children and young people in 15 projects. We have worked in this East African country since 1974. Our projects are primarily in the Western, Central, Eastern and Coast regions and are run by local partners.


Fleeing rural poverty
to find work in the large cities

More than half of the population of Kenya lives in poverty. Life is particularly difficult for people in rural areas, where climate change has made it very hard for many families to live from the fruits of their labour. In times of drought crops dry up and livestock dies. In the hope of finding better income sources, the rural population flocks to the cities, where they usually end up living in slums.

We combat poverty so people are no longer forced to leave their homes. We support (AIDS) orphans, protect street children from exploitation, provide basic education and vocational training, facilitate community-based rehabilitation of children with disabilities, and motivate women to establish self-help groups.

The challenges

Four children playing in a slum. (Source: Frank Rothe)
Many children grow up in the slums.

Within the East African Community (EAC), Kenya has the strongest economy with significantly higher incomes than Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda combined. Yet, an unequal income distribution persists. Approximately 43 percent of Kenyans have to make a living on less than $1.25 a day.


Agriculture is the leading economic sector. It supports roughly 75 percent of the population. Yet, in some cases does not suffice to sustain livelihoods. Most rural populations are not benefiting from export revenues, despite the fact that Kenya ranks among the world's leading tea exporters. Many escape the rural poverty and seek work in the cities. Without skills and training they have virtually no chance of finding a decent job. Migrants cannot afford the high rents and end up in the slums. An increasing number of children are forced to live on the street. Their lives are marked by poverty, a lack of any future opportunities, domestic violence or the deaths of their parents from AIDS.

Thanks to ongoing improvements in prevention programmes, the annual number of new HIV infections has dropped by 32 percent during the last 10 years. Yet, AIDS continues to be the leading health problem.

In 2003 the government dropped primary school fees but failed to plan for more schools and teachers. Overcrowded classrooms make it virtually impossible to provide decent instruction, which further reduces the opportunities of students to acquire good vocational training.

  • Our work in the country

    We want girls and boys to grow up without poverty-related restrictions and become independent adults who enjoy the same rights as everyone else. Children rights are confirmed by UN resolutions. Not surprisingly, all of our projects and programmes strive to champion the rights of the child. These projects and programmes benefit:

    • Young people who are acquiring vocational training
    • Former street children who are reintegrated in a family and are no longer exploited
    • Children with special needs who learn skills that were beyond their reach
    • Women who join forces in establishing self-help groups and pull their families out of poverty
    • Girls and boys who had trouble with the law and receive legal counselling and representation
    • Sexually abused girls who can return to a normal life thanks to trauma therapy
    • Victims of severe droughts who survive thanks to emergency aid. Newly acquired sustainable agriculture skills makes their production less vulnerable to future dry periods

    To ensure that all of our partners are pulling together, we hold workshops in which we collectively develop strategies to achieve our goals.

  • Key figures on Kenya

    • 45 million people live in Kenya
    • 43 % of the population lives below the poverty line*
    • 1.6 million people live with HIV/AIDS
    • 2.6 million children are orphans*
    • 2.1 million children have to work (26%)

     Sources: World Factbook, *United Nations

Kenya: Basic education for slum children

Kenya: Basic education for slum children

We provide a four-year basic education programme for children in four slum areas that is carefully tailored to their living conditions.

Learn more
How we work

How we work

Learn more about how we realize children’s rights.

Learn more
An overview of our projects and countries

An overview of our projects and countries

We are currently supporting almost 1.9 million children in 33 countries. Click here to read selected project descriptions.

Learn more