Kenya enjoys the largest, most diversified economy in the East African region; the country’s location as a transport hub amplifies its importance for much of sub-Saharan Africa. But decades of inequit-able and often corrupt governance have dampened economic progress and amplified ethnic divisions. Apart from the political elite and a small middle class, most citizens remain subsistence farmers. The majority of urbanites work in the “informal” sector and some 60 % of Kenyans subsist on $2 a day or less.
Improved governance is a top priority for USAID, since future peace and stability depend on it.
USAID assistance to Kenya supports governmental reform at all levels; promotes peace and conflict resolution and stimulates economic growth; and supports improvements already underway in health, education, and environmental management.
Kenya is the largest USG foreign assistance program in Sub-Saharan Africa, with an FY2010 budget of $688 million, $385M of which comes through USAID.
Peace and Security
Violence following the contested presidential election of December 2007 continues to cast a shadow on relations between ethnic groups and political factions. USAID is supporting district-level “peace committees” and other programs for reconciliation and conflict resolution in areas that suffered severe post-election violence and where conflicts over land resources are chronic. USAID is supporting grassroots peace building through programs that build ethnic tolerance and local capacity.
As part of the agreement ending the post-election violence in 2008, the coalition government endorsed an ambitious program of governmental reform. USAID focuses directly on promoting this reform agenda. GJD programs are helping Parliament increase its oversight of the Executive branch as well as its own transparency. For instance, Kenyans can now follow proceedings live on radio and TV. USAID is supporting constitutional and electoral reform, civic education, and working with Kenya’s political parties for free, fair and peaceful elections in 2012.
For greater citizen engagement, USAID works with civil society groups on leadership, advocacy, and organizational development. Last year, 133 public sessions encouraged widespread discussion on Kenya’s legal system, contributing to the November launch of a new draft Constitution.
Thanks largely to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the Kenya health program is one of USAID’s largest in the world. It is reduc-ing the spread and impact of HIV/AIDS nationwide. The health program integrates prevention and treatment of other diseases, especially malaria and tuberculosis; maternal and child health; family planning and repro-ductive health. In addition, USAID is working to strengthen Kenya’s health system overall by improving policy; logistics (including procure-ment); health-worker effectiveness; and monitoring and evaluation. The Global Health Initiative focuses on leadership, governance and capacity building of the Kenyan health system for greater sustainability.
Education programs focus on improving quality and access to education. Programs target teacher training, orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs) and marginalized groups in urban slums and along the coast. Through the Yes Youth Can! program Kenyan out-of-school youth are empowered to develop livelihood opportunities and improve their capac-ity for a greater voice in national and local affairs.
Kenya's economy relies heavily on agriculture and tourism-- in turn dependent on natural resources. Agriculture programs target smallholder horticulture, grain and dairy farmers, helping them increase productivity, get credit, farm sustainably, and sell their produce. USAID also supports microenterprises through Development Credit Authority loan guarantees to microfinance institutions. To promote conservation as well as livelihoods in wildlife-rich areas, USAID supports rural communities to improve biodiversity management through nature conservancies, eco-tourism and other environmental-friendly enterprises.
Equitable land and natural-resources policy is key to good stewardship; USAID has supported the new Wildlife Policy and the new Land Policy--which recognizes ownership rights of women and traditional communities. Other policy support focuses on an enabling environment to further smallholder agriculture, trade, and a vibrant private sector.
Kenya has chronic food shortages that affect 2 to 3 million people yearly. In FY 2009, USAID emergency relief sustained nearly 3 million Kenyans and refugees during the worst drought in 25 years. USAID/Food for Peace provided food and other aid valued at $135 million. USAID/Office of Disaster Assistance provided $21 million to help communities rebound from emergencies.