The United Nation’s HDI (Human Development Index), classifies Kenya as one of the world’s least developed countries, ranking 40th from the bottom. Comparatively, Ireland ranks as the 6th highest developed country in the world. Kenya’s economy has experienced good growth in recent years but still today, 40% of Kenyan’s live below the international poverty line of $1.90 per day.
Kenya’s services sector, which contributes about 63 percent of the Kenyan economy, is dominated by tourism. Agriculture is the second largest contributor to Kenya’s economy. The principal cash crops are tea, horticultural produce (flowers), and coffee. Kenya is the third largest exporter of cut flowers in the world, accounting for around 35% of all sales in the European Union. Kenya is East and Central Africa’s hub for financial services, an industry which has grown significantly over the last decade.
Approximately ¾ of the Kenyan population live in rural areas, with many rural people relying on subsistence farming. Accessing water remains a challenge for many rural Kenyans, with up to 40% of the population living without access to clean and safe water. Rural Kenyans increasingly experience the impact of global climate change as droughts occur more frequently and more intensely.
Kenya has experienced a huge level of internal urbanisation over the past 3 decades, with many thousands of people moving away from traditional rural lifestyles to the cities and towns in search of a better life. In the cities, many poor people live in informal settlements, such as the Kibera neighbourhood in Nairobi. Most of Kibera’s residents live in extreme poverty. Unemployment rates are high. There are few schools, clean water is scarce, and residents lack access to basic services such as electricity and medical care.