Approximately 44 million people live in Kenya. Kenya’s impressive ethnic diversity is an important element of Kenyan culture, on one hand, and a source of conflict on the other. Violence between tribes has contributed to internal displacement in the country.
Pressing challenges in present-day Kenya include high unemployment, crippling poverty and high crime rates. The tourism industry has been an important source of income and has become the country’s primary hard currency earner over recent years. Abundant wildlife and scenic landscapes make Kenya a major safari destination that attracts thousands of foreign visitors every year.
UNICEF estimates that there are more than 2.6 million orphans in Kenya of those 1.2 million have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS (*2009). Approximately, 1 million orphans are living either in the streets, with the villagers, or with relatives in Kenya. Around 50 per cent of the Kenyan population face a life in poverty, with a substantial part living in conditions of extreme poverty.
Thousands of children in Kenya are deeply affected by persistently high levels of poverty. The well-being of young children is particularly at risk as undernourishment and child mortality have increased. A growing number of children live without parental care or at the brink of losing it. At 6.3 per cent, Kenya also has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the entire world. Nearly 1,200,000 children in Kenya aged 0 to 17 have been orphaned as a direct result of AIDS.
Another public health concern for young children in Kenya continues to be malaria, which kills around 26,000 children under the age of five every year. Child mortality is high at 84 per 1,000 live births. An increasingly high number of households in Kenya are headed by children. Female-headed households and child-headed households are more likely to experience high levels of poverty. Young children are often obliged to work instead of being able to go to school as they have to put food on the table for an entire family.
In Kenya, an estimated 130,000 children live in the streets as a result of poverty, family neglect and social discrimination. Many of them are forced into exploitative child labour and eventually even commercial sex work. At present, an estimated 10,000 children have been caught up in the sex trade, particularly in the country’s coastal regions. Many children resort to prostitution as a way to make a living.