Local Perceptions of Population Growth: The Causes and Effects of Local and National Population Changes on the People of Kenya

Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Spring 2012

Department 1

Center for Global Education


In the early 1990s, Kenya held the record for highest population growth rate in the world, with greater than four percent per year (Van Der Veen 2004:243). Kenya's population broke 40 million by the year 2010 and is still expanding (World Bank Group 2010). This rapid growth in population has brought many changes to the country, creating pressure on land and other resources. A large rural-urban migration has left Kenyan cities faced with a shortage of space, high unemployment rates, and rapidly expanding impoverished slums. This study seeks to construct an understanding of how Kenyans have witnessed evidence of population growth in their own lives and in the lives of those around them. The focus is on population growth's effect on health care and education, as perceived by Kenyans. This project also examines how population growth has affected the religious community, examining changes in the congregations and religious beliefs of various Christian denominations. A final objective of this project is to examine the factors that Kenyans believe account for the growth in population, both in local areas and nationally. Interviews were conducted with 29 health workers, teachers, and religious figures in Kisumu and Nairobi. Findings support that Kenyans have witnessed much change in the land, environment, amount of space, and size of towns and cities all across the country. Schools and health facilities are overcrowded and a lack of appropriate funding has led to shortages in space, staffing, and supplies. Church congregation have also grown dramatically and Christian leaders of many denominations are now open to and supportive of the use of family planning. Noting several reasons for the country's growth, some Kenyans remain positive for the future, while others fear increasing consequences of an expanding population.

This paper was written for the Kenya: Health and Community Development program.