KENYA, Africa — In 2019, the USAID funded Kenya’s Kaunti Kuimarisha Uendelevu (Swahili for county-driven sustainability) program to develop local communities. Addressing many of the core issues in the country, this program provides a forum for organizations and individuals to voice their concerns.
Kaunti Kuimarisha Uendelevu, which is part of USAID’s Journey to Self-Reliance, is an opportunity for local organizations in East Africa to build partnerships and develop local sustainability. The Self-Reliance initiative partners with host countries to bolster their economic plans and establish durable, systematic solutions to widespread socioeconomic problems in communities.
Kenya: The Most Diverse Economy in East Africa
Because of its large population and economy size, Kenya plays a vital role in East Africa. As a result, it is an essential beneficiary of U.S. foreign aid. For more than 50 years, the U.S. has worked with Kenya to develop its economy, government, education, and healthcare systems.
Under the Journey to Self-Reliance program, Kaunti Kuimarisha Uendelevu works specifically at the local level. 13 counties in Kenya participate in USAID sponsored Kaunti Kuimarisha Uendelevu meetings. Through these sessions, many local organizations and individuals speak with government officials and private businesses about the intrinsic barriers they face.
Kaunti Kuimarisha Uendelevu hosts over 600 civil society groups, including community-based organizations, self-help, women’s, and youth groups. At these meetings, locals primarily emphasize problems in education, illiteracy rates, lack of water resources, environmental issues, and socioeconomic challenges.
Problems and Solutions:
- Economics Opportunities for Young People: High unemployment rates for young people was a prevalent issue among the 13 counties that participated in Kaunti Kuimarisha Uendelevu meetings. In Kenya, 80 percent of unemployed people are under the age of 35. One of the proposed solutions is youth empowerment programs geared towards building specific agribusiness skills, one of the leading industries in developing countries.
- Lack of Health Facilities: The lack of proper health facilities created significant challenges for many communities in Kenya. The absence of facilities and resources resulted in the spread of both communicable and non-communicable diseases, including HIV/AIDS, cancer, and mental illnesses. A consequential solution is building more health facilities in these communities that locals can easily access. Moreover, existing health facilities themselves should be equipped with qualified medical professionals, better equipment, and medication access.
- High Illiteracy Levels: Additionally, many communities are concerned about education and the high illiteracy rates in Kenya. Many factors contribute to low levels of education in Kenya, but regressive cultural practices, like child marriage, keep many children from finishing school. Education and resilience programs are both proposed solutions to educational challenges in Kenya.
- Water Scarcity: Although the challenges with water are different in individual counties, water scarcity is a problem. Some counties struggle with droughts, while others encounter poor access to clean water. Many regions across the world struggle with water scarcity and have found solutions through innovation. Water harvesting, water storage facilities, water pans, and dams are all potential avenues for improving water scarcity in developing communities.
Kaunti Kuimarisha Uendelevu sessions in Kenya give locals the opportunity to discuss issues that plague their communities. Through USAID funding, Kenyan government agencies can alleviate some of the struggles of developing communities through the tactical solutions found at Kaunti Kuimarisha Uendelevu.
– Kaitlyn Gilbert