Why we work in Kenya
Kenya has experienced a pronounced growth in its older population and older people now make up an estimated six per cent of the country’s total population. Most of Kenya’s older people are female living in rural areas.
The urban migration of young people in search of jobs has disrupted traditional family structures and weakened support systems for older people, impacting their social protection.
Older people are found in about 18 per cent of the country’s households. Those who live alone or head households where other members are children often face challenges accessing healthcare, housing, transport, energy, social support, food, water, and other support services that they rely on.
To address the plight of older people, Kenya has put in place legislative policy programmes and institutional measures. However, there is no specific law that comprehensively promotes and protects the rights of older people in Kenya.
Improving Older People’s Health
In Kenya, HelpAge works to ensure that health systems are more responsive to the needs of older people. This is done by advocating for the adoption of the National Healthy Ageing Strategy, including older people in the universal health coverage programme.
We are building and expanding Older People’s Associations at sub-county, county levels where we train them in health and active ageing, community-based care, water, sanitation, and hygiene.
Improving Older People’s Income / Social protection
Currently, about 89.4 per cent of Kenyan adults lack a pension scheme, setting the stage for a rise in old-age poverty and enforced work.
In Kenya older people can benefit from the Inua Jamii Senior Citizens’ Programme – a tax-financed social pension provided to Kenyans once they reach 70 years of age, granting them 2000 shillings per month. However, not all older people are eligible to be part of this programme.
We collaborate with older citizen monitoring groups to advocate for improved social pensions. Together we develop and implement advocacy messages, raise awareness, and monitor progress. This is aimed at enhancing the capacity of older people to voice their needs and ensure their inclusion in government led social pensions.
Prevention of violence, abuse, and neglect against older people
In Kenya, there have been distressing instances where older people have been accused of witchcraft. This unfortunate phenomenon stems from deeply rooted cultural beliefs and superstitions that associate misfortune, illness, or other adverse events with sorcery.
As a result, older people, particularly women, often become targets of suspicion and discrimination. Accusations of witchcraft can lead to severe consequences for the accused, including ostracism from their communities, physical abuse, and even loss of property or life.
We partner with organisations to raise awareness of this issue. We challenge these harmful stereotypes and protect the rights of older people who are unjustly accused, emphasizing the need for education, tolerance, and respect for the rights of older people, ensuring their safety and well-being within Kenyan society.
We collaborate with government ministries, state, and non-state actors, to work towards the ratification process of the protocol to the African Charter on the rights of older persons in Africa.
Fostering Inclusive humanitarian action
Kenya is managing a response to several humanitarian crises, often stemming from drought, refugee influx and internal displacements.
The Horn of Africa has experienced a series of failed rains, an occurrence unseen in more than four decades. Nearly 80 per cent of Kenya’s landmass, is currently affected by drought.
Kenya is also facing a refugee crisis. More than half a million refugees are currently present in Kenya, mostly displaced from Somalia and South Sudan.
Communities living in arid and semi-arid regions (30 per cent of Kenya’s population) are often marginalised, with inadequate social services, poor physical infrastructure, and widely scattered human settlements.
We work to strengthen the capacity of implementing partners in the delivery of humanitarian responses with a robust accountability framework.