Teenagers on bicycles on a Kenyan country road

Social situation Unequal opportunities for many

There are more than 40 ethnic groups living in Kenya, speaking some 50 different languages. Although there are tensions between the groups, so far there have been no outbreaks of large-scale conflicts, as there have been in neighbouring countries. Thus, Kenya is seen as an anchor of stability in a very conflict-riven region.

Incomes and resources are very inequitably distributed in Kenya, in both regional and social terms. More than a third of the population live in extreme poverty and around a quarter are undernourished. Poverty is particularly severe in the north and west of the country.

The situation is further exacerbated by the rapid population growth (2.28 per cent in 2020). It is estimated that the current population of 53.7 million will double in size by 2050. Currently, 40 per cent of Kenya's population is under the age of 15.

Poor prospects for young people

As a consequence of Kenya's population growth, the level of unemployment amongst young people is high. According to estimates, around one million young Kenyans join the labour market every year. Their chances of finding decent employment opportunities depend on a number of factors such as where they live (urban or rural area, which region), whether they are male or female, and their ethnic background.

More and more people are moving into towns and cities in search of opportunities to earn a living. However, there is a huge shortage of affordable housing, as well as employment opportunities, in Kenya's urban areas. In the larger cities, an innovative middle class has evolved.