Partnering with rural communities in Kenya


Population: 41 million

Per Capita GDP: $1,600

Unemployment: 40%

Inflation: 9.3%

Life Expectancy: 59 years

Official Languages:
English & Swahili

Protestant 45%; Catholic 33%

Lwandeti Library Dendyo Library Ndori Library Lukohe Library

Children in rural African communities tend to have even fewer educational opportunities available to them.

Buildings & Books has chosen four rural communities in western Kenya – Lwandeti, Dendyo, Ndori, and Lukohe – to establish our first four libraries.

The people of Kenya have demonstrated a commitment to educating their children. In 2003 the country abolished all school fees, and the 7% of national GDP it invests in education is the third highest expenditure on the continent. But progress has been slow, with nearly a quarter of school-aged children still out of school and one-fifth of the country’s 15-24 years-olds unable to read or write.

Overcoming obstacles to education

In Kenya, like many countries in Africa, the obstacles to education include overcrowded classrooms, poorly trained teachers and a severe lack of resources and learning materials. Kenyan parents are also responsible for providing their children’s textbooks, beginning in 1st grade, and a single textbook can cost a full day’s wages.

As a result, only about a quarter of Kenyan students own their own math or reading textbook, further compounding problems caused by the scarcity of school and community libraries throughout the country.

These problems disproportionately affect children living in rural communities, which lag behind urban centers in areas like economic growth and educational opportunity. The cycle of poverty is therefore harder to break in communities like those in which we are constructing libraries.