Growing up in the village in a third world economy is not a walk in the park. Having grown up in a village near Mt Kenya, my siblings and I had to put up with a myriad of challenges which ranged from chilly mornings, dealing with jigger infestations to walking barefoot to school just to get a taste of the white man’s wisdom. Having no sweaters to cover our frail bodies, our health was many times than not vulnerable to cold related illnesses pneumonia being a deadly effect of the same. Poverty defined not just our homestead but many other villages and homes that characterized our neighbourhood. During those days, wearing shoes to school made one seem so odd that those lucky enough to own a pair had to remove them, remain barefoot and later wear them when going home.
Fortunately, the Kenyan government with the help of well-wishers and foreign donors among them the World Bank has made strides in various sectors of the economy making the situation better. The introduction of the Free Primary Education system in 2003 by the Kenyan government was a key step in alleviating poverty. Securing formal education has introduced many skills to the ‘less able’ in our society pitting them in a position to use the same skills acquired in these institutions to make a living for them and their families alleviating their economic status.
Another step that has helped greatly in alleviating poverty levels has been the over emphasis on sound, quality and corruption free governance that has characterized media, human rights and institutional campaigns. Although corruption has been an eel that we have struggled with for a long time as a country, the keen interest that Kenyans are putting on good governance will continue helping us a lot in solving the issue of poverty in this country. This is due to the fact that the above will continue calling for accountability in governance and utilization of public resources making them accessible to the village ‘mama’ down at the grassroots. Accountability is directly proportional to corruption eradication thus continuous emphasis on the former will solve the ocean of challenges the latter carries in its basket.
2010 marked the beginning of a new era for Kenya. The Promulgation of a new constitution brought along so many goodies for the common Kenyan ‘mwananchi’. In addition to overemphasizing on transparency and integrity of elected leaders, it also brought along the concept of devolved governance whose main aim was to decentralize resources back to the villages from Nairobi. Devolved governance meant that the unemployed youth in Kakamega town would be presented with an employment opportunity in the Kakamega County Government giving him a platform to not only improve his economic status but also that of his immediate and extended family. The current constitution is a blessing in disguise.
Kenya may not be currently a poverty free country but looking at where we have come from, the future is greatly hopeful.