Kenyan Labor Migration: Challenges and Policy Solutions

Kenyan Labor Migration: Challenges and Policy Solutions


In recent times, there has been a growing trend of Kenyans seeking employment opportunities abroad, particularly in casual jobs like domestic work, store keeping, driving, and elder care. While there is nothing inherently wrong with pursuing opportunities elsewhere, it is essential to address several key issues to ensure the well-being and protection of Kenyans working abroad.

Policy Framework and Protection

Kenya lacks firm labor migration laws that safeguard its citizens working overseas, leading to rampant exploitation, and even tragic incidents like deaths, particularly in the Middle East. To address this, the government must establish clear regulations for privately owned migration agencies and increase awareness among Kenyans about potential risks such as fraud and deceptive contracts. Strict measures should be taken against exploitative employers, and a comprehensive framework should be implemented to ensure the safety and rights of Kenyan workers abroad.

Cultural Awareness and Training

Moving to a different country often entails adapting to a new culture, which can be challenging for many Kenyan workers. Language barriers, unfamiliar customs, and different norms can lead to misunderstandings and even legal troubles. Therefore, before individuals are approved to work abroad, they should undergo mandatory training sessions to familiarize themselves with the social and cultural aspects of the countries they intend to work in. This preparation will empower them to integrate better into their host communities and avoid potential pitfalls.

Behavioral Conduct and Rehabilitation

Instances of Kenyan workers engaging in negative behaviors abroad, such as drug abuse, illicit sex, love triangles, abortion attempts or fighting, have been reported. To maintain a positive image and ensure the safety of Kenyan workers abroad, a robust system should be put in place to identify and address such conduct promptly. Kenyans displaying harmful behavior abroad should be deported back home for rehabilitation and, if necessary, face the legal consequences in Kenya.

Unity and Support Structures

There have been unfortunate incidents of Kenyans harming one another instead of uniting in foreign countries. This highlights the importance of establishing support structures for migrant workers. Kenyans on short-term contracts should be encouraged to join associations that regularly check on their well-being and gather information about their living conditions. This network of support can help avert unfortunate events and foster a sense of community and unity among Kenyan workers abroad.

Realities of Working Abroad

The allure of high wages; like many dollars paid per hour overseas can entice Kenyans to seek employment abroad, but it is crucial to consider the full picture. While the promise of earning more in foreign currency may seem appealing, the cost of living in those countries is proportionately higher, and poverty rates among their citizens are increasing. It is essential for Kenyans to thoroughly explore employment and job opportunities within the country before making a decision to work abroad, as facing challenges at home is better than being thousands of kilometers away.

Final word

With these measures in place, Kenyans can confidently pursue opportunities abroad while being better prepared to face the unique challenges that come with working in a foreign land.

By Boniface Muema Harrison

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