In Rural Kenya
Geography & Climate
- Kenya’s rural areas include a variety of landscapes, climates and ways of life.
- Altitudes range from 8,200 feet in the central highlands to 1,600 feet in the southern lowlands down to sea level in the coastal region.
- Temperatures range from an average low of 53 degrees in the highlands to an average high of 91 degrees along the coast.
In the more populated highland regions, rural Kenyans are primarily subsistence farmers.
Those in the more arid, less populated areas generally are cattle herders.
Kenyans who live along the Indian Ocean coast in the southeast or the shores of Lake Victoria in the west tend to earn a living from fishing.
Unemployment in Kenya’s rural areas is as high as 65 percent, due in part to low education levels.
Children at Home
Rural homes are typically small, crude constructions made from local materials.
Homes of the nomadic Maasai people in the arid south have stick frames covered with cow dung.
In other regions, homes have mud walls and thatched roofs, or walls and roofs built of iron sheets.
In the rural regions, only about half of the people have ready access to safe water, and only 30 percent have adequate sanitation.
Typically, each rural family has five children. However, in some rural areas the number of children per family averages eight to 10.
Issues and Concerns
- Most rural residents leave school by the eighth grade for a variety of reasons. Some can’t afford the required school fees.
- Many girls drop out of school due to teen pregnancy, which is on the rise in the rural areas, along with early marriage.
- The number of children orphaned by AIDS is another issue. Particularly in the hard-hit Lake Victoria and nomadic plains regions, many destitute children have lost one or both parents to the disease.
- Politically motivated violence is also common, especially around election times. And often violence among the country’s various tribes claims lives and property.
- More than half of the families in rural areas lack access to two items critical to the health and well-being of children: abundant clean water and adequate sanitation.
- Young lives are susceptible to such diseases as cholera and bacterial diarrhea, which can be fatal.
- Climate extremes also plague poor rural families, who depend on subsistence farming and cattle herding. From periods of flooding to prolonged drought, families frequently face circumstances that threaten their livelihood and food security.
Local Needs and Challenges
Malnutrition and lack of access to safe water and adequate sanitation frequently lead to life-threatening illnesses. However, parents can’t afford medical help when their children are sick.
Rural groups also practice cultural traditions harmful to children, such as early marriage.
This deadly disease continues to devastate families.
Schools and Education
- In the Kenyan system, primary school lasts eight years, and secondary school is another four years.
- The government’s recent provision of universal primary education means that more children than ever before are attending school in Kenya.
- However, it also has resulted in overcrowded classrooms (80 children per teacher) and a poor quality of education.
- Impoverished parents are unable to pay the required fees for books, supplies and uniforms.
Compassion Kenya works to ensure that every registered child is able to attend school, and we provide additional support, including tutoring, at the child development centers.
At the Compassion Child Development Center
At Compassion-assisted centers in Kenya’s rural region, children are receiving the help and learning opportunities they need to reach their full potential in Christ.
Along with nutritious meals for physical development, they also receive medical assistance and hygiene training to stay healthy.
Tutoring helps to make up for any school deficiencies, and most important, they learn about the love of their heavenly Father.
What Compassion Sponsorship Provides
In partnership with local churches, Compassion is bringing help and hope to rural Kenya’s children in need, providing:
- regular nutritious meals and snacks
- health checkups and medical care as needed
- the support needed to attend school
- better farming methods by introducing drought-resistant crops in dry areas and greenhouse farming to increase agricultural yields
- alternative income-generation and nutrition options for families, including raising small animals such as hybrid goats and rabbits
- community initiatives, such as tree-planting and environmental cleanup days to sensitize residents on the need for environmental conservation
- water borehole wells, water pans, and distribution of water tanks and filters, enabling families to access clean drinking water in their homes and minimize waterborne infections
- for women, prenatal care, nutritious foods, access to family planning methods and safe delivery in a hospital through the Child Survival Program