Kenya vocational training with AVSI

Sustainable futures: empowering Kenyan communities through vocational training and smart agriculture

AVSI in Kenya
  • Nairobi HQ Office
    St. Kizito Building Off Thika Rd, Exit 8
    Nairobi, Kenya
    Phone: + 254 721 537 657
  • Dadaab Office
    UNHCR DMO Dadaab sub county, Garissa County
    Phone: + 254 742 171 999
  • Otiende Office
    Sister of Adoration of the blessed sacrament Center, KENYA POLICE DOG UNIT ROAD 18A
    Phone:: +254 707 861 619
  • Little Prince office
    Little Prince Primary School – Fort Jesus Kibra
    Phone: + 254 729 786 335
  • Meru Office
    Off Makutano Road, Ronogone Parish
    Phone: + 254 721 867 929

AVSI has been actively working in Kenya since 1986, following the invitation by Cardinal Maurice Otunga to support the youth that were faced by the risk of unemployment and getting into crime and drug addiction. Today, AVSI is present in 31 Counties of Kenya to promote the development of local communities with a focus on education, vocational training and job creation, agriculture and food security, climate change and energy. AVSI works in Dadaab to support the host communities and refugees and contribute to the development of the Somalia returnees. 

Kenya today: navigating unemployment and climate change challenges

With a population of approximately 47 million, Kenya finds itself at a pivotal juncture, with nearly 80% of its inhabitants under the age of 35. While this youthful demographic presents immense potential for the country's future, it also grapples with challenges. 

Primarily, unemployment looms as a pressing issue. According to World Bank data, 2.6 million Kenyans are unemployed accounting for 5.6 % of its population.

Furthermore, despite Kenya's political framework being designed to uphold democratic principles, ensure accountability, and enforce the rule of law, the August 2022 elections and the subsequent post-election violence, have shed light on persistent social tensions and inter-ethnic conflicts. These conflicts not only hinder development but also undermine livelihoods, emphasizing the need to foster social cohesion and stability. 
In the past years, Kenya has experienced a surge in the impacts of climate change. Unpredictable rainfall and prolonged droughts have inflicted damage on agriculture, the backbone of Kenya's economy, leaving farmers grappling with failed crops and diminished livelihoods. Additionally, extreme floods and storms have become more frequent and intense, causing widespread destruction of infrastructure, displacement of communities, and loss of lives. The increasing frequency of heatwaves has exacerbated health risks, particularly for vulnerable populations, while water scarcity has intensified, further straining already limited resources and exacerbating conflicts over access to water sources.  

Kenya: the African hub of technological transformation 

Kenya, particularly Nairobi, is at the forefront of Africa's technological transformation, leveraging connectivity to drive economic growth, social development, and governance reforms. The widespread availability of the internet and mobile phones has empowered individuals to make informed decisions about their livelihoods by accessing news, market prices, and job opportunities. Mobile money services like M-Pesa have revolutionized financial inclusion, benefiting rural populations and small businesses. Kenya's remarkable strides in technological innovation underscore its status as a pivotal player in Africa's journey towards a digitally empowered future. 

Kenya's response to the refugee crisis 

Kenya is the fifth largest refugee-hosting country in Africa and the thirteenth largest asylum country in the world, with over 650,000 registered refugees and asylum-seekers according to UNHCR data. The refugees originate from Somalia, South Sudan, DRC, Burundi, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda, Eritrea, Rwanda, among others and the vast majority reside in Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps. Refugees often face challenges related to limited access to basic services such as housing, education, and healthcare. Many live in overcrowded informal settlements, struggling to find stable employment due to legal restrictions and discrimination. Despite efforts by the Kenyan government and humanitarian organizations to improve conditions, the situation remains complex, requiring comprehensive strategies to address the diverse needs of refugees and promote their integration and self-reliance. 

Education: the cornerstone of AVSI intervention in Kenya 

While Kenya has taken steps to promote inclusion in education, there is still work to be done to address systemic barriers, strengthen support systems, and ensure that all learners have equitable access to quality education.  

AVSI in Kenya champions education and protection by implementing holistic programs that encompass early child education and development, primary and secondary education, vocational training, teacher training

AVSI’s response to youth unemployment: the St. Kizito Vocational Training Centre model  

St. Kizito Vocational Training Centre was founded by AVSI in 1994 through funds from the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, following the desire of Cardinal Maurice Otunga, to build a school that would allow the most vulnerable young people to be able to receive a quality education, learn a skill and have a dignified future.  

St. Kizito Vocational Training center employs the dual training model (50 % of theoretical and practical studies in school and 50 % of practical learning at the industry) by partnering with around 70 companies for internships while ensuring that skilling programs are market oriented and supporting transition of youth into the labor market. This has allowed the vocational training centre to graduate at least 800 students yearly. 

AVSI's 2023 tracer studies show a remarkable 66% employment rate among former St. Kizito students (considering both wage and self employment), compared to Nairobi's general youth employment rate of 27%. This indicates that St. Kizito alumni are 150% more likely to be employed. 

AVSI continues to equip the school with innovative resources and infrastructures such as the 30 KW hybrid mini grid, that ensures the ability of the vocational training centre to contribute significantly towards empowering a green future, offering diverse course in line with latest technologies and strategic industry sectors.

visita mattarella con studenti saint kizito kenya
In March 2024 The President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella met the students of St. Kizito Vocational Training Institute in Nairobi, find out more here

Digital skills to foster economic inclusion and combat unemployment  

AVSI in Kenya combats unemployment by investing in digital skills within communities. Through targeted initiatives, AVSI empowers youth with the necessary knowledge to market their products or services online and via social media platforms, expanding their reach and business potential. Additionally, AVSI facilitates the transition from traditional savings methods, such as storing money in metallic boxes, to digital accounts for participants of Village Savings and Loans Associations. This transition ensures transparency, streamlines digital transactions, and provides access to essential services, further promoting economic growth and financial inclusion within these communities. 

In Daadab with the scouts  

AVSI has been working in Dadaab since 2009, improving access to quality education mainly through the construction, rehabilitation and equipping of educational infrastructure, youth skilling and teacher trainings

To skill youth AVSI is committed in strengthening the Kenya Scouts Association capacity in Dadaab. Scouts are positive influencers and peace ambassadors between refugees and host communities, especially for children at risk of radicalization. 

Through scouting for education, peaceful coexistence, food and environment, AVSI has contributed to sustainable solutions within Dadaab Camp and host community areas. The importance of youth awareness and preparedness has been showcased during the Covid-19 period as well as during the El Niño rains in 2023. 

A Group of scouts in Dadaab, Kenya

The Distance Support Program in Kenya  

The Distance Support Program, also known as the Orphan and Vulnerable Children Empowerment Network project (OEN) in Kenya, has been a catalyst for positive change since its establishment in 1997. Aimed at empowering vulnerable children, including orphans and those from economically challenged and health-affected families, the program has impacted over  9,200 children in Kenya.

Its innovative approach considers the sponsored child as the entry point to the family, allowing AVSI to support an additional 12,292 people (parents, caregivers, siblings). Implemented in 11 counties in collaboration with local organizations, the program deploys educators to offer personalized support, fostering positive changes for individuals, families, and communities. 
Beyond facilitating education with school fees and materials, the Distance Support Program focuses on enhancing youth employability, supporting caregivers through economic empowerment, and conducting awareness campaigns on children's rights and nutrition. With an inclusive and long-term perspective, the program welcomes children without merit selection, encouraging self-discovery and investing in their emerging skills and qualities for holistic growth. 

Additionally, AVSI with the support of AVAID (a founding member of AVSI) has contributed to the construction of eight education institutions including Little Prince Primary School that educates over 400 vulnerable children yearly in Kibera, one of the slums of Nairobi. The school also provides a training destination for many families who get skills on Income Generating Activities, capacity building, adult literacy, nutrition program, health education, HIV sensitization among others. 

A child in a school of the slum of Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya
Distance Support with AVSI:
help a child grow up and thrive in Kenya
With less than 1 euro a day, you will ensure that a child can attend school, has a healthy diet and access to healthcare
  • 27€   Monthly
  • 312€   Monthly

Smart agriculture and agribusiness for climate resilience 

AVSI's agricultural programs empower smallholder farmers, boost rural economies, ensure food security, and contribute to environmental conservation. Collaborating with governments, CSOs, and stakeholders, AVSI focuses on value chains, particularly coffee and milk. By providing training, resources, and technical assistance, AVSI improves agricultural productivity, promotes agroecology, and enhances climate resilience. 

Coffee Value Chain: The ARABIKA project funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, targets over 30,000 small coffee producers across seven counties, enhancing their income and reducing vulnerability. It intervenes in the supply chain, improving quantity, quality, cooperative management, and marketing. 

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Dairy Value Chain: The Maziwa project, funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, doubled milk production and improved management in Meru County. This initiative improved food security, facilitated access to healthcare and education, and built resilience in local communities. Expanding its impact, the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation is supporting 15,000 smallholder dairy farmers and 30 agri-producer cooperatives to recover from the impacts of Covid-19

One of the beneficiary of the AVSI project to improve the Dairy Value Chain in Kenya
Vitalis Dishon Karani, a dairy farmer from Tharaka Nithi County of Kenya involved in the AVSI project to improve the Dairy Value Chain in Kenya

Biofuel farming in Meru County 

AVSI has been operational in Meru County since 1999, partnering with the Don Bosco Community Based Organization in Mutuati, which supports over 300 needy families. The community primarily relied on Miraa, a chewable stimulant, for their livelihood, but its market was impacted by government export restrictions. In 2021, AVSI, through Arithi Dairy Cooperative demonstration plots, introduced the castor tree, a non-food biofuel crop, as an alternative income source suitable for the arid region. Seeing its potential, 1,500 farmers planted castor seeds on 3,500 acres of unused land. This initiative creates jobs for youth in farming and harvesting, improved food security through intercropping, has expanded economic opportunities, and provides environmental benefits. 

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