In Urban Kenya
Geography & Climate
- Kenya’s cities are located in a variety of terrains.
- Mombasa, on the Indian Ocean coast, is only a few feet above sea level and can experience temperatures as high as 91 degrees.
- Nairobi and Eldoret, on the other hand, sit more than 5,500 feet above sea level in the central highlands.
- Temperatures in the highlands are moderate, with two rainy seasons per year.
- The highest point in Kenya is Mount Kenya, which stands a majestic 17,000 feet, while the Great Rift Valley bisects the country from north to south.
Kenya’s cities have some of the world’s largest slums. In Nairobi, the capital city, Kibera is the city’s largest, Africa’s second-largest, and the world’s third-largest slum.
The migration rate from Kenya’s countryside to the cities is at an all-time high, as people leave their poor rural homes in search of a better life.
Typically settling in slums like Kibera, these newcomers typically find a life of privation much worse than the one they left.
The unemployment rate in Kenya is more than 40 percent.
Children at Home
The homes in Kenya’s urban slums are crowded, ramshackle structures, built of whatever scrap materials can be found.
Homes as small as 100 square feet may accommodate a family of five.
These poorly built homes provide little protection from the elements. Sometimes they are demolished and swept away during the rainy seasons.
There are no basic amenities in the city slums, and they are rife with crime and violence.
Issues and Concerns
- A vast disparity exists in Kenya’s cities between the “haves” and the “have-nots.” The richest 20 percent of the population owns approximately 80 percent of the resources.
- Some live in lavish homes in secure suburbs, while the impoverished majority crowds into sprawling slums, living in conditions of great need.
- Unemployment is another big problem in Kenyan cities. Each year 600,000 students complete their schooling and enter the job market. Of these, only 10 percent eventually find viable employment.
- To survive and provide for their families, many resort to drug trafficking, prostitution, and making or selling illegal alcohol.
- In the city slums, no basic services exist for sanitation, electricity or clean water.
- Raw sewage runs through the narrow alleyways in the slums, where children play. Cholera outbreaks are common, and the many pools of stagnant water are breeding grounds for malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
- Malnutrition and respiratory infections are also commonly suffered by children in Kenya’s urban slums.
Local Needs and Challenges
Lack of clean water and sanitation
This lack leads to such life-threatening illnesses as cholera and typhoid.
Poverty and the lack of job opportunities in the slums mean that parents cannot adequately feed their families, and children typically are chronically malnourished.
The crime rate is high in urban slums, and children often resort to begging and stealing to get a little money.
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, this policy 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
Compassion serves children in Kenya’s urban centers through local church-based child development centers. These centers are havens of love and learning for registered children.
Here, children receive nutritious meals, hygiene training, and tutoring to attain standard academic milestones.
They are also encouraged to develop their talents and abilities.
Most important, children learn about God’s love and the gift of salvation in Christ.
What Compassion Sponsorship Provides
In partnership with local churches, Compassion is bringing help and hope to urban Kenya’s children in need, providing:
- regular nutritious meals and snacks
- health checkups and medical care as needed
- the support needed to attend school
- access to better housing through renovations of dilapidated houses and construction of new houses
- domestic assistance to highly vulnerable children by providing food, stoves, beds, blankets and other household items
- training for caregivers on business start-ups to improve their livelihoods
- training for children about their rights and how to respond to abusive situations
- training for local Compassion staff on child protection
- HIV/AIDS prevention education for children