In Kenya, where 2.5 million people toil in irregular, precarious jobs—compared with 900,000 in the formal sector—many workers are unable to support their families and so become targets for the labor brokers who haunt villages and cities and convince them to get jobs abroad. But as migrant workers, they often experience harsh conditions and lower wages than promised by labor brokers.
In recent weeks, the Solidarity Center and our long-time partner, the Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotel, Educational Institutions, Hospitals and Allied Workers (KUDHEIHA), joined with other local migrant worker and anti-human trafficking organizations to hold a series of outreach and education efforts in the Mombasa area among local communities, culminating in three migrant worker rights forums.
Although many workers here travel abroad for jobs, primarily to Arab Gulf countries, customs or embarrassment may prevent them from sharing their experiences, and many residents do not have access to credible information on migration. As a result, communities are unaware of the hazards involved in migrating for work.
Before each event, KUDHEIHA organizers went door to door and distributed information pamphlets on the street to provide people with information about the forum and invite them to join.
“Accomplishing gains for domestic workers [in Kenya] seemed impossible, but it was done,” says Livingstone Abukho, KUDHEIHA Mombasa chairman. “Therefore, it can be done for migrant workers.”
Partners in these outreach efforts include TRACE Kenya, Haki Africa, HAART Kenya and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.