Victor Apollo, Head of Solutions Mapping, Accelerator Lab — UNDP Kenya

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Access to financial and social assets is a key factor in the quest to empower youth to make their own economic decisions and escape poverty. Unfortunately, majority of this group in the informal sector are un-bankable making access to finance a huge challenge. Photo: Kevin Ouma/UNDP

COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the loss of livelihoods and led to an increased rate of unemployment among Kenyan Youth. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, young people aged 20 to 24 years were more adversely affected in the labor market in comparison to other age cohorts. In December 2019, the youth unemployment rate was 14.2%, a percentage double that of the general populations unemployment at 4.9%[1]. Restrictions related to COVID-19 such as business closures, social distancing, and stay-at-home regulations have affected the population, with youth experiencing the hardest blow. …


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Bashir Diriye, Field Officer with Nomadic Assistance for Peace and Development (NAPAD), works towards promoting access to justice for the poor and marginalised in Mandera County // Photo: Nicholas Wilson/UNDP Kenya

Mandera, the capital of Mandera County, is at the very edge of Kenya’s Northern Frontier. Touching the borders of both Ethiopia and Somalia, a heavy security presence reflects the prevalence of conflict in the immediate area — particularly involving fundamentalist militant groups. Speaking to locals around town, the majority of whom are ethnic Somalis, there’s a feeling that the instability, curfews and restrictions on movement that come with this have dimmed the voice of inclusivity and public participation.

In these circumstances, when it comes to marginalised groups such as women and children, basic needs are not always met: Mandera County has by far the highest rate of maternal mortality in Kenya, and the lowest rate of full child vaccination.[1] Among people with disabilities (PWDs), studies have indicated that special education is often lacking and that injustices suffered by PWDs can be missed by the legal system.[2] Access to justice for these groups is a challenge across Kenya, but especially so in Mandera as an area with both serious security issues, and entrenched religious and ethnic social structures. …


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In Kenya, the vast majority of rural households burn wood on open fires for cooking and heating — a practice which is environmentally harmful, inefficient and causes health problems associated with indoor air pollution. Promoting energy efficient and low-carbon power is key to mitigating climate change. Photo: Kevin Ouma/UNDP Kenya

When it comes to human development, climate change remains a defining issue of our time: its impacts are not only slowing down growth of economies but exposing already fragile ecosystems and vulnerable communities to even more risks. Reduction of the rate of increase, and scale of changes, in greenhouse gases (GHG) — also known as mitigation — is an option both developing and developed countries are pursuing as part of the global efforts to fight climate change.

Kenya’s Climate Change Action Plan 2018–2022 has prioritized enhancement of energy efficiency as one of the priority actions to mitigate climate change in the country[1]. The demand for electricity in Kenya has been growing at an annual rate of approximately 4% and it is forecast that demand will exceed 23,000MW by 2030[2]. …


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Pastoralism is the norm for locals on both sides of the often porous Kenya-Ethiopia border which bisects Moyale; as such, cross-border communities may access the same grazing lands, leading to intermittent conflict. Photo: Amunga Eshuchi/UNDP Kenya

Moyale is as bustling and lively as you’d expect a border town to be: split across both Kenya and Ethiopia, there are clear influences on either side of the town from each country, from the foliage to the food and the language to the locals. The northernmost point of Marsabit County has recently seen a boon in fortunes following the completion of the Isiolo-Moyale Highway in 2017 and strengthened Kenya-Ethiopia integration: what was once a troubled frontier town is becoming a focal point in the rising tide of East African trade.

Outside of the town itself, Moyale and North Horr Sub-Counties are sparsely populated, largely by nomadic pastoralists. Societal norms in these communities — which have recently seen serious violence across the porous border — are often patriarchal. This creates a challenging situation for women and girls, whose education is not culturally prioritised and whose input in traditional forums is not always accepted. When water, pasture and security are urgent priorities, issues which adversely affect women are not always paid the attention they deserve. …


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Taita Taveta County has an enormous mining potential, especially in gemstones. However, most of the mining activities are in small scale and not as profitable, in remote areas where infrastructure is either lacking, or in a deplorable state. Photo: Allan Gichigi/UNDP Kenya

Of Kenya’s counties, Taita Taveta is among the most picturesque — and biodiverse. The bustling markets of Taveta on the Kenya-Tanzanian border stand in contrast to the flat sisal plains of Voi and lush, green forests of hilly Wundanyi, whilst Tsavo West and Tsavo East national parks are home to the world famous red Elephants — the only ones in the world. Some 150km from the coast, the County is also well connected to the Nairobi-Mombasa corridor by both rail and road; unsurprisingly, its population is one of Kenya’s fastest growing.[1] …


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Local men shelter from the sweltering heat while enjoying a session of a traditional board game as they wait for the sun to go down, to allow them to go about their business. Photo: Allan Gichigi/UNDP Kenya

Nestled in Kenya’s North-West corner and bordering Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia, Turkana is a land of geographic extremes. Kenya’s largest County is not only one of its hottest, but also one of its most arid: daytime temperatures in the capital Lodwar hover around 35⁰C, with virtually no rainfall for the majority of the year.[1]The dry heat is intense, and during the day locals in towns and rural areas alike clamour for shade to escape it.

Although home to the expansive Lake Turkana, the County suffers an acute lack of fresh water and as a result of its harsh climate, is also prone to drought — a feature exacerbated by the harmful effects of climate change. Just earlier this year an estimated 800,000 people in the County faced food shortages due to drought and to compound the damage inflicted, flash floods followed when the rains finally came. …


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Paulina Muthoni with her baby, Stephen, attending a well-baby clinic at the Lodwar County Referral Hospital in Turkana County // Photo: Ngele Ali/UNDP Kenya

Having supported intelligent life for more than 3 million years, Turkana’s reputation as the ‘Cradle of Mankind’ makes it a truly unique place, with its rich history a source of both local and national pride.[1]The living conditions today, however, are challenging: increasingly prone to drought due to the effects of global warming, the climate in the County is amongst the harshest in Kenya, and the poverty rate is amongst the highest.[2]

Outside of the County’s capital Lodwar town, Turkana is comprised of sparsely-populated arid plains sitting between the mountainous border areas of the West and the expansive Lake Turkana to the East. For the County Government, providing public services effectively to all the largely rural, pastoralist population of over 1m people — spread out over c.65,000km …


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Marsabit County is vast, and travel to rural areas is often both arduous and long. This presents serious challenges in terms of hospital access for expectant mothers, especially in a marginalised County with relatively few health facilities and ambulance services. Photo: Amunga Eshuchi/UNDP Kenya.

As one travels across Marsabit County, the most apparent characteristic of Kenya’s second largest county is the sparse population and the emptiness of its vast, arid lands. Coupled with a history of inter-community conflicts and a myriad of challenges such as harsh and unpredictable weather patterns, high levels of poverty, lack of access to health services, food insecurity among others, Marsabit presents a distinct development challenge to the communities living in the area, the National and County Government planners; and, other stakeholders.


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A Somali woman lays out freshly cut tuna on racks to dry in the sun at an IDP camp on the outskirts of Bossaso, Puntland. Although women do not take part in fishing themselves, they are beginning to get involved in the processing of the fish once it arrives back on land. UN Photo/Tobin Jones

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development envisions a present and future that is all-encompassing; socially, economically and environmentally resilient. For the global community to deliver this ambition, all must work together to promote inclusive and sustainable use of natural resources — including our water resources. This includes establishing stronger environmental laws, allocation of financial resources; promotion of innovation and private-public partnerships; and, strengthening community resilience that ensures sustainable benefits for all.

Premised on this, as the concept of the blue economy gains momentum, strategic approaches that guarantee gender and social inclusion are critical. While the blue economy offers vast economic opportunities and high nutritional food resources, women often face limited access to these opportunities compared to their male counterparts. Women’s participation and contribution is often overlooked, undervalued and underrepresented. While in some communities, cultural norms and societal biases continue aggravate their vulnerabilities, exposing them to exploitation and unfair competition; as women depend heavily on middlemen, for access to markets and fishing commodities. …


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Lujio Jaran took up fishing as an alternative source of livelihood but receding waters in Lake Turkana is affecting the quality of fish and fishing activities. Lujio says there are times fishermen go home empty handed even after several hours of fishing. Photo: Amunga Eshuchi/UNDP Kenya

Its estimated that 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water. Unfortunately, our water resources are under serious threats attributable to uncontrolled human activities that are severely impacting livelihoods and the ecosystem. For instance, every year, more than 8 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean, a large percentage of it having been washed into the oceans through rivers as a result of poor waste management and dumping upstream.

Against this backdrop, in late November 2018, Kenya together with Canada and Japan hosted 18,000 delegates from 184 countries, including several Heads of state, top government officials, the private sector, civil society, academia, scientists and private citizens in Nairobi. Under the auspice of the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference, the three-day gathering pursued conversations on productivity and protection of the blue economy; with a call to rethink utilisation and promotion of water resources, as a base for new economies (fisheries, tourism, aquaculture, maritime transportation and renewable energy) to advance socio-economic development and environmental sustainability. Being the first international gathering of its kind — that looked at all water resources — the outcomes of the conference are expected to act as a launching pad that will progressively stimulate global discourses and influence how countries make the Blue Economy more advantageous for all. …

About

UNDP KENYA

In #Kenya, UNDP works with the Government and communities towards inclusive, equitable and sustainable socioeconomic and human development.

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