Foreign Aid In Kenya Encourages Mediocrity.

Kenya receives bilateral aid through multilateral organizations such as USAID and DFID. The USAID claims that Kenya is “the largest, most diversified economy in East Africa, [thus] Kenya is a crucial economic partner for the U.S. in the region.” In addition, a case study of Kenya showed that there is a positive relationship between foreign aid and development in Kenya. However, there are conflicting reports from other sources which claim that some of the aid in Kenya cannot be accounted for due to corruption. This post questions whether Kenya is praised for being relatively developed compared to her neighbors which encourages mediocrity or whether the government of Kenya should be held accountable for the billions of dollars and Euros drilled into the economy. Evidently,the Kenyan government is adhering to the bare minimum required by the conditions of the donors and therefore, it does not fully utilize the potential of Kenya to emerge from the shackles of poverty and corruption.

As explained by the last blog, Kenya has a close relationship with the US due to counter-terrorism efforts aimed at curbing the growth of Al-Shabaab. But according to the USAID data, peace and security only get about 5.2.M which is actually the lowest amount of aid given to a sector. Therefore, inasmuch as US aid to Kenya is talked about in the form of security, the actual money is located in other sectors such as health ($356.7M), humanitarian assistance ($103.4M), and economic development($49.1.M). In total, the USAID spends about $557.2M in Kenya. According to the remarks made on the USAID website, especially with regard to Obama’s visit to Kenya, one can clearly see that the USAID  sees a positive correlation between its work and the development shown in Kenya. Furthermore, the DFID reports that Kenya’s average growth for the last 5 years (2009-2013) has been 5.6%, which despite being above average for Sub-Saharan African countries, still lags behind her East African neighbors such as “Uganda (5.8%), Tanzania (6.7%) and Rwanda (6.4%).” This is the growth that USAID is excited about. Of course it is better than a stagnant country or a receding one, but is this what the Kenyan government should aim for? An average growth?

Kenya does not receive the largest ODA from the British government, but its one of the highest recipients of British aid considering that Britain was her former colonizer, thus supporting Moss’ point, which is, “donors tend to give much more aid to countries with which they have had a past relationship.” (123). Kenya gets almost £80 million every year from the British government, which is less than what she gets from the American government. In the 2013-2014 fiscal year, the Kenyan auditor general Mr Edward Ouko, stated that “of the Sh1.3 trillion (£6.3 billion) budget, only 1.2 per cent was spent legally and effectively.” He added that “approximately Sh600bn (£3.76bn) ‘had issues’ and could not be properly accounted for, while they were unable to tell whether a further Sh390bn (£2.4bn) had been spent legally.” The unaccounted money, which is more than the accounted money, is the one that fuels corruption in Kenya. It creates extra pockets for money to circulate in the economy thus making corruption, particularly bribing inevitable.

Foreign aid should be minimized and should also be channeled to specific problems in the different sectors and not to vaguely functioning sectors. Therefore, currently aid is a bit helpful but most African governments could do better if they were forced to be accountable and responsible without excessive aid.


  4. DFID Kenya, Operation-Plan 2011-2016 (December 2014)
    Published on Institute Of Diplomacy and International Studies (
  6. Moss, The International Aid System.
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