The Irish Aid programme in Kenya is working to improve lives through agriculture and support to smallholder farmers, education and strengthening of business and trade development. While Kenya has reached lower middle-income status, almost half of the population still lives in some form of poverty. In North Eastern Kenya, which is remote, arid, and sparsely populated, these rates climb to over 70%.
Kenya has a population of 50 million and is ranked No. 146 out of 188 countries on the UN Human Development Index. There has been a long association between Ireland and Kenya with many Irish missionaries, non-government organisations, businesses and individuals having worked throughout Kenya. This association has served to strengthen the relationship between both countries. This relationship was captured in the exhibition 100 Years: Irish in Kenya which was launched by the Embassy in 2016 and has been exhibited throughout Kenya and also in Ireland.
The Embassy was officially opened in November 2017 by Mr. Simon Coveney, T.D., Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Dr. Amina Mohamed, then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kenya.
When Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney visited Kenya in 2017, he launched Our Shared Interest: Ireland Kenya Agri-Food Strategy 2017-2021. The Strategy’s main focus is on deepening trade and investment links between Ireland and Kenya in agri-business; supporting Kenyan-Irish institutional and policy linkages and providing specific support to potato and dairy value chains and fisheries, based on Irish expertise and experience in these areas.
Irish Aid’s support to the potato sector has included provision of low-cost storage 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. For example, through Irish Aid support, 15 storage facilities were constructed for farmers which reduced post-harvest losses and increased yields by 10% for over 2,500 farmers.
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 initiative, which is based on the hugely successful BT Young Scientists and Technology Exhibition in Ireland. In partnership with the Government of Kenya, YSK reached over 5,000 students in 80 schools in 10 counties through outreach activities in 2018 and will be expanded to cover all 47 counties in 2019. The Young Scientists Kenya inaugural National Exhibition took place on 5-6 July 2018.
Through the outreach activities, secondary school students are learning the importance of science and are being mentored on projects to find local solutions to local problems. For example, winning projects in 2018 included creation of organic fertiliser from water hyacinth – found in abundance on Kenyan lakes, development of natural mosquito repellent, invention of biodegradable paper bags made from cassava, studying the effect of population growth on urbanisation in Kenyan society and development of a computer for quadraplegic and paraplegic people.
Support to business and trade development
Ireland has supported the improvement of the business environment for both international and domestic investors to support Kenya’s economic development. This has included support to the Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest) to establish a One Stop Centre service for investors; and through support to the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA). Ireland is giving specific support to women in business in Kenya. We also facilitate annual outward trade missions to Ireland and a number of institutional partnerships and learning exchanges between Irish organisations and their Kenyan equivalents.
The Tánaiste addresses the Business Ireland Kenya network during his visit to Kenya in November 2017.