Situated in the laps of Great Rift Valley, Kenya serves as the major tourist attraction in Africa, still it faces unemployment and hunger that make it tough for the poor to survive. After agriculture, tourism is the second major source of foreign exchange for the country as nearly a million tourists visit the African country every year.
However for Kenya, often described as the cradle of humanity, such a large tourist influx is not enough to generate enough jobs as the country remains in the grip of extreme poverty, hunger and illiteracy. The Republic of Kenya, with population of around 40.8 million, has around 40 per cent people unemployed and 70 per cent of working class is engaged in small scale farming. Half of the farm output remains non-marketed subsistence production. Not without reason, for large section of population it is becoming difficult to meet the basic needs of life.
Though Kenya is the largest economy in east Africa and is a regional financial and transportation hub, still the nation is in the clasp of poverty. One major reason behind its poor growth is widespread corruption. Other problems like unemployment, crime and social conflicts too remain high.
Most Kenyans live below the poverty level of $1 a day. Natural calamities like droughts often cause turbulence in their lives that and put millions of people at risk.
In the absence of industries, Kenyans find it difficult to get a job to earn enough to lead healthy life, which eventually lowers the GDP of country. Rise in taxes by the government makes basic commodities like food and clothing unaffordable for most of the citizens. Poor sanitation and lack of clean drinking water leads to social and health issues, adversely affecting the nation.
While the country is expected to grow by more than 5 percent in the year 2011-12 but extreme reliance on agriculture and poor infrastructure make its economy susceptible to vagaries of nature.
By making agriculture profitable for the small farmers and helping them find suitable markets, the Kenyan government can pull millions of people out of poverty but continued political instability and violence have deeply affected the governance of the country. To fight hunger, the country needs to increase foodgrain production, and not merely focus on its export centric cash crops of tea and coffee. Creating opportunities in infrastructure development, transport, telecommunication and tourism could be another way of helping poor find jobs and break the shackles of poverty. Local entrepreneurs can be encouraged to start small scale industries to produce cheaper goods and create jobs.
Amidst all the chaos, young Kenyans are learning soft skills and finding jobs abroad. Increasingly, remittances by these professionals are becoming important for their family members based in Kenya. Broad-basing its economy beyond agriculture and tourism, and taking steps to sharpen the skills of its human resources and encourag manufacturing, are expected to help Kenya in the long run.