The Irish Aid programme in Kenya is working to improve lives through support to smallholder farmers, education and strengthening of business and trade development. In terms of the agriculture sector, Ireland’s programme focuses on potato and dairy value chains and fisheries. With respect to education, the programme’s flagship Young Scientist Kenya initiatives drives youth creativity and innovation. The Irish Embassy in Nairobi also encourages the growth of trade and business links between Ireland and Kenya, through bolstering private sector development and strengthening inclusive economic growth involving women entrepreneurs and traders, especially in the agricultural sector.
- Our Work
Kenya has a population of over 55 million and is ranked No. 143 out of 188 countries on the UN Human Development Index.
In 2014, Kenya reached lower middle-income status, and continues to be the largest and most diversified economy in Eastern Africa. According to the World Bank, Kenya has made major gains in social development, including reducing child mortality, achieving near universal primary school enrolment, and narrowing gender gaps in education. While the healthcare system has faced challenges recently, including due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the devolved health care approach and free maternal health services are expected to improve outcomes and contribute to a more equitable health care system.
Despite these gains, inequality persists: more than 18 million Kenyans live below the global poverty line of $1.90 per day and 56% of the urban population live in slums. Kenya continues to be impacted by unprecedented and overlapping disasters, widespread displacement, and food insecurity caused by flooding, desert locusts, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Floods and drought closely linked to climate change have left Kenya’s vulnerable farmers and pastoralists at risk: as a result of the below-average rainy season and evolving drought emergency, one in ten Kenyans face crisis levels of food insecurity.
Ireland’s bilateral country programme in Kenya focusses on supporting the development of Kenya’s agriculture sector, particularly in the potato and dairy value chains and fisheries. As Tánaiste, Minister Coveney, visited Nairobi in 2017 and launched the Our Shared Interest: Ireland Kenya Agri-Food Strategy 2017-2021 (IKAFS) through which programmes Ireland shares its agri-food expertise and knowledge with Kenya. The Strategy’s main focus is on deepening trade and investment links between Ireland and Kenya and supporting Kenyan-Irish institutional and policy linkages in the agri-business sector.
Climate smart innovations and gender equality are cornerstones of IKAFS. This year, Ireland launched a €100,000 project with TradeMark East Africa to increase the number of women trading within the agricultural sector in Kenya. The programme will eliminate barriers to trade for women and build the capacity of female producers, aggregators, cross-border traders and women-owned or women-led MSMEs/SMEs.
Irish Aid’s support to the potato sector has included provision of low-cost storage facilities and capacity building of smallholder farmers to increase revenues and improve food and nutrition security. The impact of small levels of support can have far-reaching effects: to date the project has supported almost 15,000 farmers to increase yields by over 50%.
Kenyan Government official visiting Tops Potato Propagation Centre in Donegal in June 2018, facilitated by Embassy Nairobi.
Ireland has also led the introduction of the Young Scientists Kenya (YSK) initiative, which is based on the hugely successful BT Young Scientists and Technology Exhibition in Ireland. Through outreach activities, secondary school students are learning the importance of science and are being mentored on developing projects to find local solutions to local problems. The Young Scientists Kenya inaugural National Exhibition took place in July 2018, with President Kenyatta as Patron.
In 2020, with significant support from the Embassy of Ireland, Young Scientists Kenya pivoted online to overcome challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Students from 22 counties were able to participate in an online exhibition, joining teams from public and private schools, from arid and semi-arid regions (ASAL) and urban settlements, both girls and boys, and with differing abilities and needs. The 2020 projects covered crucial issues in agriculture, technology, health, energy, and STEM inclusivity, as well as timely projects responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. YSK Kenya now reaches and inspires 13,000 students directly and over 10,000 through online outreach.Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence, Simon Coveney T.D. was delighted to meet a number of YSK 2020 winners from Nova Pioneer Kenya during his visit to Kenya in July 2021.
Support to business and trade development
The Embassy of Ireland in Kenya fosters the expansion of two-way trade and business links between Ireland and Kenya, including through supporting private sector development and empowering women entrepreneurs and traders, to support Kenya’s economic development.
Our Embassy continues to see growing interest by Irish companies keen to invest in the region, and the Business Ireland Kenya (BIK) association now maintains over 150 members. With the support of the Embassy, BIK held 12 webinars in 2020 providing useful and timely knowledge-sharing and learning. Enterprise Ireland also have approximately 90 clients with a presence in the region. Key sectors of focus in Kenya are agricultural technology, education, engineering, and digital technology.
During this 2021 visit, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence, Simon Coveney T.D., marked deepening Kenya-Ireland business ties by signing the Ireland Kenya Double Taxation Agreement, and launching a Doing Business in Kenya Guide for Irish companies. Visit the Business Ireland Kenya Resource hub and read the 2021 Doing Business in Kenya Guide here.
In July 2021, while visiting Kenya, Minister Coveney joined Business Ireland Kenya to launch the ‘Doing Business in Kenya Guide’.
- Ireland led the introduction of the Young Scientists Kenya initiative and in partnership with the Kenyan government, reached over 5,000 students around the country.
- Ireland signed 6 Business and Government Memorandums of Understanding with partners in Kenya in 2017.
- Ireland supported 2,400 farmers to receive training and to build 15 low-cost potato storage facilities.
- Find further information on Ireland’s development assistance programme in our Annual Report repository.