Dominic Kirui

Freelance journalist based in Nairobi covering climate change, food security, culture, conflict, politics, gender and global development.

In Kenya, Abuse Survivors Find a New Life in Peanut Butter

“At times, he would come home drunk and would take a knife and want to kill me with it,” Akinyi says. “On many occasions [he tried] to throw me off the balcony of the house we lived in. Only my strength would save me and let me see the light of day.” Her husband took another wife, who later left him. Several times, Akinyi tried to leave, too. But she always ended up coming back, for one reason: She couldn’t afford to support her children on her own. In 1999, Akinyi, then 41, finally took the s

As Orphanages Close in Africa, Women Take On the Burden of Care

AREA FOUR, MATHARE – Volunteering in orphanages used to be a rite of passage for young, wealthy people from the Western world who wanted to “do good” in Africa, while celebrities such as Madonna and Angelina Jolie famously adopted African orphans from institutions. But now, public opinion is turning against institutionalized care for orphans, as NGOs and governments shift focus to family and community care. That’s partially because many “orphans” in institutions are not orphans at all. A widely

Still No Guarantee of an Equal Share in Divorce for Kenyan Women

NAIROBI, Kenya – Divorced women in Kenya will continue to lose out on matrimonial assets after the High Court dismissed a petition that called for a couple’s property to be split evenly if their marriage ends. When the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA-Kenya) filed the petition in September 2016, they wanted to repeal section seven of the Matrimonial Property Act, which states that, upon divorce, a couple’s property will be divided according to each spouse’s contribution to the property during

How a Trademark Helped Women in Kenya Make a Business from Baskets

JORA VILLAGE, Kenya – When a group of women from Kenya’s Taita Taveta County first decided to band together to sell handwoven baskets, they only hoped to make a little money on the side. But today, 17 years later, many of them are the main breadwinners in their families, upending patriarchal norms that stretch back for generations. The key to their success did not come from a technological innovation to boost productivity or a cash injection from a local NGO. The women behind Taita Baskets owe

Mercury Rising: Gold mining takes a toxic toll on Kenyan women

NYATIKE, Kenya (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Scorching sun beats down on half a dozen women as they carry large sacks of crushed ore on their backs at the Osiri-Matanda gold mine near Kenya’s border with Tanzania. On wooden tables, they sieve the powdered ore into metal pans, add mercury, and heat the mixture over a charcoal fire. The air fills with fumes as the liquid metal evaporates - leaving behind a lump of gold. The women complain the work is hard, hours long and wages meager. But the j

For clean drinking water in Kenya, just add sunshine (and a can)

EMUCHIMI, Kenya (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - On a sunny afternoon in Western Kenya, Eunice Shigali filled a 10 liter jerrycan with water, then unfolded it like a suitcase and placed it in the sun. After a few hours, a green smiley face appeared on the side of the black container, telling her the water was clean and hot, and ready to cook ugali, a staple dish made of maize flour. “I used to light a fire to boil water for drinking, washing and cooking,” the 48-year-old mother of three told the

The Kenyan Church Leader Who Became a Family Planning Champion

WEST POKOT, KENYA – In Ng’ing’in village, 273 miles (440km) west of Nairobi, Loyesereng’ Lokosoywan arrives home with a packet of sugar he had gone out to buy for his family’s next round of tea. A few years earlier, he would never have gone to the shops while his wife was home and the children were around. It was not the way of a Pokot man to run an errand if he could send someone else to do it instead. But, Lokosoywan says, things have changed. As an example, he points to the issue of family

Daily Grind: Women Stone Crushers Feed Demand for Construction in Kenya

KISII, Kenya – On a fine afternoon in Nyantitira village, about 192 miles (310 km) west of Nairobi, Gladys Nanzala emerges from her house armed with a spade, a bucket and a few sacks. She is heading back to the stone mines, a few meters away from her door. The 40-year-old mother of four had been crushing stones since the early morning until noon, when she went home to make lunch for her family, before heading back to the mine. This has been her life for the past five years; she says she made th

In Kenya, Having a Child With Cerebral Palsy Can Mean Losing Your Job

NAIROBI, Kenya – Just a few meters from the bus station in Nairobi’s Eastland area, as buses rumble by and conductors call out to their passengers, Mary Mwikali is busy feeding her youngest child, four-year-old Naomi Njoki. The little girl can’t feed herself, because she was born with cerebral palsy, an incurable condition that is thought to be caused by brain damage before, during or soon after birth. Before Njoki was born, Mwikali, a 40-year-old mother of three, was happily married and made a

FEATURE-Sex for fish: Women's reluctant trade on Kenya's Lake Victoria shore

As the fishermen bring their catch ashore, the sight of women buying fish with money is rare. The currency is sex. ABIMBO, Kenya, May 9 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - At midday in Abimbo village on the Kenyan shore of Lake Victoria, 32-year-old Rachel Atieno is busy spreading out her silver cyprinid fish to dry in the sun. Atieno, a mother of five, has sold the fish since her husband died 10 years ago leaving her to support her family. With no other income, she was left with no option but to t

Kenyan Man Breaks Taboo, Builds Pit Latrines for Villagers

BOTORET, NAROK COUNTY, KENYA – On a cool afternoon, John Yegon puts on his jacket, grabs his walking stick and bids goodbye to his wife as he begins his daily routine of inspecting the pit latrines he has constructed for fellow villagers. From childhood until a few years ago, the 58-year-old father of six believed that digging a hole in the ground, be it for a latrine or a grave, was taboo. That was the culture in this community 150 miles (245 kilometers) west of Nairobi, the capital. For Yegon

Women in Kenya work to keep girls in school by supplying reusable sanitary pads

ELDORET, KENYA – After lunch break at Langas Primary School, in Eldoret’s Kisumu Ndogo slum, 192 miles west of Nairobi, Mercy Wairimu enjoys a quick skip of the rope with her friends before the bell rings for the afternoon lessons to resume. Mercy, 17, a class seven pupil in Uasin Gishu County, was lucky to have been informed by her teachers about menstruation before she got her periods last year, and she now confides in them about her experiences. But she has struggled to get sanitary pads, ev

Gold-For-Sex is increasing in the mining regions of Kenya

TOP PHOTO: Susan Akinyi sieving ground rock to get gold at Wagusu Beach, Siaya County in Kenya. Credit: Dominic Kirui It is only mid-morning and the sun is already blazing down on Lake Victoria’s Wagusu Beach. Susan Akinyi sits on the ground, hunched over, busily sieving finely ground stones in search of gold. The generators rumble in the background as the 30-year-old mother of three expertly shakes the sieve back and forth in the hope of finding a few crumbs of gold. For the past five years,

How Maasai Women of Kenya Perpetuate FGM Yet Suffer Effects

Nadupoi helps restrain a goat as her mother, Angela Rampei milks it. [PHOTO/Dominic Kirui] Under the scorching heat of the mid-morning sun at Ilmotiok, a village in Kajiado, Southern Kenya, Angela Rampei, 42 is busy milking goats as her eldest daughter, Nadupoi, helps in restraining the goats by holding their ears. Kenya’s Maasai, a pastoral community is known to depend on cattle for products such as milk and meat, but for the Rampei family, the case is different. Ndupoi’s father, Rampei Wuant