CRS in Kenya

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CRS Work in Kenya

Even as some Kenyans make economic gains, most people live on less than $2 a day. Poor governance and high unemployment rates add to the challenges. Many pastoralists (herders) and small-scale farmers also face food shortages, particularly in arid and semiarid areas. Catholic Relief Services addresses these issues in Kenya by working with partners in seven key programming areas.

CRS Agriculture program-kitchen gardens

Leah Wariumu works in a small 'kitchen garden' behind her house in the Changamwe community of Mombasa, Kenya. Photo by David Snyder for CRS


In Kenya, 1.4 million people are infected with HIV. The number of orphans continues to rise as more and more children lose their parents to HIV-related infections. CRS Kenya is responding to the pandemic by providing free care and treatment to people living with HIV and by supporting orphans and vulnerable children.

As the lead agency of the AIDSRelief consortium funded by the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, CRS supports quality HIV care services for more than 70,000 Kenyans—including more than 30,185 clients on antiretroviral therapy—at 27 faith-based health facilities. CRS also provides assistance to 63,815 orphans and vulnerable children affected by HIV and more than 37,850 HIV-positive clients and caregivers through projects funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). In addition, CRS' privately funded The Children Behind project serves 19,000 HIV-affected orphans, vulnerable children and their caregivers in Nyanza province, providing them with critical medical, educational, counseling and food support.

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Water and Sanitation

CRS works with communities to increase access to clean water by improving and replacing existing water facilities. Hygiene education further improves the overall health of communities served. In addition, CRS is helping communities in the northeast of Kenya to improve their quality of life by protecting and maximizing their water resources through funding from the Global Water Initiative.

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CRS helps small-scale farmers increase their incomes through a variety of agricultural projects. The Great Lakes Cassava Initiative is a regional cassava project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Implemented in western Kenya, the initiative aims to stem the spread of cassava diseases and help farmers replant fields of healthy, disease-resistant cassava. Since July 2005, CRS has also been helping disseminate improved varieties of maize that contain significantly more protein in eastern and central Kenya. In addition, a project funded by the European Commission is helping people in the Rift Valley displaced by the post-election violence of early 2008 to increase their incomes and food resources. The project provides vouchers for seeds, fertilizer, farming tools, and small livestock such as goats, sheep and chickens.

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One effective way poor families can improve their quality of life is to build and leverage their own savings to increase income. CRS' savings and internal lending communities (SILC) methodology helps communities form savings and lending groups that encourage members to save small amounts of money each week, typically 50 cents or a dollar. Members can then withdraw loans against these savings to start small businesses, such as opening kiosk shops or purchasing a goat for breeding. CRS promotes formation of SILC groups in all of our programs in Kenya, including HIV and AIDS, agriculture, and water and sanitation initiatives. To date, CRS Kenya has helped organize more than 15,000 people into almost 1,000 SILC groups, which have saved in total more than $100,000.

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Justice and Peacebuilding

Poor governance, conflict and violations of human rights are problematic in Kenya. To help Kenyans improve security and foster respect and mutual trust, CRS spearheads initiatives focused on peace and justice. CRS projects promote peace by lobbying and advocating for good and responsible governance at all levels in Kenya.

CRS is also building Global Solidarity Partnerships between Kenyan and U.S. dioceses to promote cross-cultural sharing, peace and global understanding. Since 1999, the partnership between the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota, and the Diocese of Homa Bay in western Kenya has enabled people of different cultures to share faith and friendship as well as provide support for community projects. Started in 2004, the partnership between the Diocese of Kitui and Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis in Minnesota is also helping to build bonds of global solidarity. In addition, this partnership is helping struggling families in five communities in the Kitui area to protect their natural resources, improve health, and increase incomes and food availability through a five-year project funded by CRS and the Foods Resource Bank.

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Program Documents

Peace at the Grassroots: Experiences of Community Peacebuilding in the North Rift Region of Kenya

Emergency Response

When needs arise, CRS provides humanitarian assistance in Kenya to people affected by emergencies. Most recently CRS has been responding to drought by providing food vouchers to the most-affected people in hard-hit regions. CRS is also helping communities to conserve and protect their soil and water. Initiatives to improve water systems and promote drought-tolerant crop varieties also support agricultural gains.

When violence erupted after disputed elections in December 2007, more than 500,000 people were driven from their homes. CRS responded in numerous ways, first providing emergency food and basic household items, then assisting with water and shelter needs in camps for displaced people, and later helping communities to reconcile and rebuild lives. Provision of seeds and fertilizer continue to help Kenyans return to their fields to grow food for their families.

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While the majority of Kenyans are literate, inadequate facilities and low enrollment hinder education in the Coast and North Eastern provinces, where girls also face gender inequality. Through the USAID-funded Education for Marginalized Children in Kenya consortium, led by the Aga Khan Foundation, CRS works to increase access to quality education among school-age children. The program improves school management, trains teachers and administrators, and encourages parental support for education. The consortium also pays school fees for the poorest children and helps improve school facilities.

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