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Years of drought have had a serious impact on the well-being of Kenya’s children, increasing malnutrition rates, morbidity and mortality.
A rise in inter-tribal/inter-clan violence resulted in child deaths, injuries and displacement.
Despite recent economic growth, nearly a quarter of the population lives on less than $1 per day.
Issues facing children in Kenya
- Malnutrition rates in much of Kenya are critical. In some districts, a quarter of all children are acutely malnourished.
- More than half a million people in drought-affected districts need emergency water supplies.
- Kenya’s free and compulsory education system has increased gross enrolment rates to over 90 per cent nationally. But poor children still cannot afford to attend school; 9 out of 10 children from poor households fail to complete their basic education. School dropout rates are increasing, especially in drought-affected areas.
- An estimated 10,000 to 30,000 children have been caught up in the commercial sex trade. Many children resort to prostitution as a way to support themselves after fleeing violence in their homes.
- There are wide regional disparities in immunization rates. In the drought-prone North Eastern Province, for example, where access to health facilities is poor, measles vaccination coverage is only 37 per cent.
- HIV/AIDS prevalence was 6.7 percent in 2004, down from about 10 percent in the late 1990s.
- Female genital mutilation remains commonplace in Kenya, affecting nearly a third of all women ages 15 to 49.
Activities and results for children
- UNICEF and its partners provided vitamin A to more than 4 million children under age five. Supplemental feeding improved the health of thousands of malnourished children and pregnant and lactating women.
- With UNICEF’s support, Kenya’s Expanded Programme on Immunization vaccinated more than 3 million children against measles, polio, tetanus and other deadly diseases. In the North Eastern Province, tens of thousands of insecticide-treated bed nets have kept malaria at bay.
- Increased salt iodization has reduced goitre rates from 16 percent in 1994 to 6.8 per cent.
- More than 200,000 people gained access to clean water as UNICEF and its partners delivered emergency water, installed pumps and distributed water-filtration kits. A campaign in 38 schools educated 26,000 children about basic hygiene.
- Hundreds of health-care professionals have been trained in prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS.
- The government has increased investments in social, health and education programmes.
- Education kits delivered to districts affected by flooding or violence allowed more than 15,000 primary school students to continue their education.