Adolescence and Youth
Kenya is a nation of children and youth, with more than half the estimated population of 36 million under the age of 18 years. An estimated 6 million children require special care and protection of which approximately 2.4 million children are orphans. Orphans who have no direct or day to day adult care or supervision comprise 12 per cent of Kenyan households.
The youth (aged 15-35 years) in Kenya, who numbered about 9.1 million as of 2006, account for about 32 per cent of the population. They form 60 per cent of the total labour force but some 75 per cent of them have not been absorbed in the job market.
The effects of the post election conflict that gripped the country in the early months of 2008 threatened gains made during the 2003-2007 period and highlighted the fragility of Kenya’s democratic institutions. The crisis resulted in cuts in development expenditure as budgetary resources have been reallocated to fund the activities arising from the effects of the violence.
The government is making progress towards meeting the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), special reference to those affecting children and youth. On the basis of trends illustrated in the 2007 MDG Status Report, Kenya is likely to achieve MDG2 (Achieve universal primary education), MDG 6 (Combat HIV and AIDS) and is making impressive progress to achieve one target under MDG 3 (Promote gender equality: eliminate gender disparity in education). With better policies and increased funding, Kenya may be able to achieve some targets of MDG7 (ensure environmental sustainability), particularly those related to access to water and sanitation services.
In Sub-Sahara Africa, approximately half of all new HIV-infections occur among young people aged 15 to 25. Around 5 to 10% of infections occur in children less than five years of age, mainly as a result of mother-to-child transmission. Young women and girls remain particularly vulnerable to HIV, mostly due to persistent gender inequality, including lack of economic opportunities for girls and women.
The post-election violence in 2008 also increased the risk of HIV infection among women and girls, with many of them becoming victims of rape. During the violence, an estimated 500,000 people became internally displaced as a result of the humanitarian crisis. This increased the risk of young women and girls becoming infected with HIV.
With this background, there is need to empower youth, especially girls and young women, with information and skills to advance them economically, enable them realize their democratic rights, and to protect themselves from HIV.