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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.



Basic Indicators

Under-5 mortality rank


Under-5 mortality rate (U5MR), 1990


Under-5 mortality rate (U5MR), 2012


U5MR by sex 2012, male


U5MR by sex 2012, female


Infant mortality rate (under 1), 1990


Infant mortality rate (under 1), 2012


Neonatal mortality rate 2012


Total population (thousands) 2012


Annual no. of births (thousands) 2012


Annual no. of under-5 deaths (thousands) 2012


GNI per capita (US$) 2012


Life expectancy at birth (years) 2012


Total adult literacy rate (%) 2008-2012*


Primary school net enrolment ratio (%) 2008-2011*


Definitions and data sources [popup]

Source: The State of the World's Children

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