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.