Located in western Kenya near the border with Uganda, Eldoret has a population of around 475,000 and is one of the fastest growing cities in the country. Its economy is based mainly on the service industry and some manufacturing, while the surrounding Rift Valley Province is largely agricultural. However, the region is prone to drought and the land is becoming infertile. This endangers the livelihoods of many people in the area, as food crops tend to fail. Malnutrition affects children in particular. Furthermore, crop failure leads to loss of income for many families, and sometimes children have to contribute to household income instead of going to school.
Since 1996, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Eldoret.
Families living in rural areas around Eldoret depend on agriculture for food supply and income. At the same, the region tends to suffer from drought, floods and land degradation, so crop failure is a recurring issue. This means that families lose their source of income and food becomes scarce. This food insecurity presents a particular risk for children. In fact, 35% of children in Rift Valley Province suffer from stunting, meaning they are below their age-appropriate height because of malnutrition.
When the Free Primary Education Policy started in Kenya in 2003, many more children started going to primary school. However, many are concerned that this has led to a decline in the quality of teaching due to the large class sizes, and the increasing workloads teachers face, combined with inadequate salaries. Furthermore, the number of children going to secondary school remains very low, especially in rural areas like the Rift Valley Province where Eldoret is located. In addition, girls, who are often expected to work in the household, are at a disadvantage – 4 in 10 girls living in rural areas are not attending school.