Latest update

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated food insecurity for those living in poverty in Kenya. The government has enforced varying restrictions and curfews throughout the pandemic in an effort to contain the spread of the virus. The country's COVID-19 vaccine program is underway, though the process has been slowed by difficulty in gaining access to adequate doses.

Local church partners are working hard to continue serving Kenyan children in poverty during this health crisis. Throughout the pandemic, they have used a mix of in-person and virtual activities to provide support to children and their families. Many child development centres have now safely resumed their normal activities, though letters and gifts continue to be delayed in some areas.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, local workers have delivered more than 309,000 food packs and over 94,000 hygiene kits to registered children and their families.

Watch the video update below from our local team to learn more.

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Country update

How is Compassion currently operating in Kenya?

  • Are Compassion centres open?

    The majority of centres in Kenya have restarted programming and are welcoming small groups of children and youths in shifts for classes and activities, either in homes, villages or at the centres themselves. There are some centres in Kenya that remain closed and local church staff continue to make home visits and phone calls to check on families. Church partners are working to provide psychological support to help the children and families who are experiencing anxiety caused by the pandemic.

  • Are children receiving letters?

    The majority of letters are delayed in Kenya, which means it may take longer for you to receive letters from your sponsored child. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write! We encourage you to continue sending your sponsored child letters of encouragement and hope. What a joyful day it will be when those letters are delivered!

  • Are gifts being delivered?

    Gifts continue to be distributed in Kenya, although they are currently delayed. Staff members have been given the option to disburse monetary gifts to caregivers, where appropriate. This applies to family gifts and child gifts (including birthday and final gifts). Families may spend the gift on whatever they consider most important to meet family needs. The caregiver will decide the best use of the money, recognising that sometimes purchasing food or paying rent is in the best interest of a child.

How you can pray

Thank you for praying for children and families in Kenya who have been impacted by COVID-19—and the local staff and churches who continue to serve them in difficult circumstances.

Please join us in praying for the following:

  • Pray for healing and a quick recovery for Philip.
  • Pray for comfort and strength for the families and church communities grieving the loss of local pastors John and Michael.
  • Pray for rain for the regions currently experiencing drought. For the children and their families who are affected by the drought, pray for provision and strength.
  • Pray that COVID-19 would not continue to spread. Pray for God’s healing over those who are ill.
  • Pray for families who have suffered a loss of income due to COVID-19. Pray for God’s provision of their daily needs during this challenging time.
  • Pray for God’s comfort and peace for families who are grieving the loss of a caregiver or parent.
  • Pray for peace and stability for the nation of Kenya.
Using mobile technology in Kenya

Using mobile technology in Kenya

After a stampede during a food distribution—that was not Compassion-related—claimed the lives of two people in Nairobi’s Kibera slum, the Kenyan government banned the direct distribution of aid and food from non-government organisations. This restriction, alongside social distancing quarantine measures, has greatly affected families living in poverty who depend on casual labour for their livelihood.   Read more open_in_new

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Please note: The majority of centres in Kenya have restarted programming for small groups, though some remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A snapshot of Compassion's Child Sponsorship Program in Kenya

Compassion’s program is contextualised across countries and communities, as well as age groups.

  • Children aged 1 to 3 receive home-based care.
  • Children aged 3 to 5 visit the Compassion centre for eight hours on Saturday.
  • Children aged 6 to 11 attend for four to six hours a week.
  • Students aged 12 and older attend for four hours a week. Centres are open for extended weekend hours during school holidays.
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Compassion Program Activities in Kenya

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Compassion assisted children in Kenya typically attend program activities at their local child development centre on Saturdays. Here is an example of what a typical program day looks like for children in Kenya.

9:00am - A time of prayer and devotion.

9:30am - Spiritual lessons, in which children sing songs and learn Bible stories.

10:30am - Break time, when children can play in a safe environment and develop friendships. A typical snack consists of a cup of porridge or tea, bread and fruit, and in some cases an egg.

11:00am - Social-emotional lessons ranging from conflict resolution to developing healthy self-esteem and developing a godly character. Children often come from challenging home environments and are taught social and personal skills.

12:00pm - Lunch time. The meal usually consists of rice or ugali, beef stew, bean stew or legumes, and green leafy vegetables such as kale or cabbage. Children who are HIV-positive are given nutritional supplements to boost their immunity. During times of food scarcity, children come to the centre with their siblings just for a meal as it’s the only place they are able to eat.

1:00pm - Health lessons, in which children learn practical health and hygiene tips. Example topics include how to prevent malaria and HIV transmission.

2:00pm - Letter writing and career planning. Older children work with local staff to identify their strengths and interests and set goals for their future.

Children are encouraged to join in a variety of extracurricular activities including annual football competitions, teen camps held during the holidays and talent days where children perform music, drama or poems. When they reach the age of 12, youth can elect vocational training skills, such as computer training, carpentry, motor vehicle repair, dressmaking, cooking, hairdressing, driving and life skills.

The greatest needs impacting children living in poverty in Kenya

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mothers die from pregnancy related causes per 100,000 births

Kenya is a leader in its region, with the poverty rate steadily falling and living conditions improving for many Kenyans. But most communities depend on small-scale agriculture for their livelihoods, meaning drought and other serious weather events could plunge millions back into poverty. According to the World Bank, the proportion of Kenyans living below the international poverty line (US$1.90 per day) has declined from 43.6 per cent in 2005/06 to 35.6 per cent in 2015/16.

Yet a lack of adequate medical care still affects many rural areas, and families are often forced to walk long distances to receive help. The spread of HIV/AIDS is a major concern; currently 1.5 million people in Kenya are living with HIV/AIDS—the fourth-largest epidemic in the word—and 28,000 die every year as a result of the disease.

Additionally, over one-quarter of women between the ages of 15 and 49 have been subjected to female genital mutilation—again, these figures are among the highest in the world—though the practice has significantly declined in recent years.

In the past decade, Kenya’s relationship with neighbouring Somalia has been fraught. In October 2011, Kenya’s military crossed the border to curb the threat of al-Shabaab, a Somali-based Islamist extremist group. However, the violence has spilled back across Kenya’s borders, as al-Shabaab launched reprisal attacks, including suicide bombings.

In September 2013, terrorists laid siege to a Nairobi shopping mall. The attack was one of the worst in Kenya’s history, with at least 67 civilians and soldiers killed and more than 200 wounded. To this day, tension between the two countries continues to simmer.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of Kenya’s founding leader Jomo Kenyatta, won his second term in office in 2017 despite initial findings of irregularities, when the main opposition party boycotted the re-run election.

Under his leadership, the economy has grown strongly but Kenya ranks very low on Transparency International’s corruption index and critics say President Kenyatta has not done enough to reform a culture of favouritism and bribery.

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