Tharaka Nithi, Kenya

2023-09-28 15:20:46

"Enhancing Women's Livelihoods Labor Force Participation Through the Crèche Program"



  • Population size: 400,000
  • Population Growth Rate(%):3.00  
  • Surface Area ( 2609
  • Population Density (people/ 153
  • GINI Index: 0.6
  • Main Source of Prosperity: agriculture



Women perform a significant role in housework and childcare. They continue to shoulder a disproportionately larger share of family responsibilities despite their increasing employment. In response to the issue of infant care, the Tharaka Nithi County Government opened a crèche at Chuka Market in 2021. The objective of the creche initiative is to reduce the burden of child care, promote the psychosocial well-being of lactating mothers, and foster the child's growth and development. However, the Chuka crèche programme is too small and not distributed throughout the county. Since the inauguration, the county government and Kenyatta University WEE Hub have made progress on the drafting of a Child Care Policy, which will be presented to the County Assembly in July 2023. This policy will aid in the institutionalization of the creche programme and its expansion throughout the county. Within five years, the Crèche programme will be implemented in all of Tharaka Nithi County's market centers, bringing about the anticipated transformation.


Kenya's 2010 Constitution (Articles 21, 27, 81, and 100) protects this programme to increase women's labour force participation and livelihoods.



The legal framework safeguarding this initiative on enhancing women’s labor force participation and their livelihoods is embedded in the 2010 Constitution of Kenya (Article21, 27, 81 and 100). Vision 2030 is one of the policy frameworks that promote women's economic empowerment through the implementation of the five-year midterm plans. Other policies include the Sexual Offenses Act 2006, Matrimonial Property Act 2014, Prevention against Domestic Violence Act 2015 and the National Policy on Gender and Development 2019



The distribution of unpaid work at home has largely remained rigid in Tharaka Nithi County, with little gendered renegotiation on how this inequality can change. The time women commit to childcare and performing other duties in the home takes up the much-needed time and opportunities that would otherwise have been used in other income-generating activities. Childcare has largely been recognized as a barrier to women's engagement in productive economic activities outside the home.


Quality childcare can alleviate poverty by enabling women to work and earn a steady income and improve child milestones


In response to the childcare issue, TharakaNithi County Government has had an intervention by building creches (or children day care centers) at markets to ensure that women can go to work and have their children taken care of. The initiative, through curriculum experts from Kenyatta University, also aims to finalize a policy for the County Government to allow children under the age of 5 years to be taught using a special curriculum that will be developed.


The change will occur within 5 years when the Creche programme will be deployed in all the market centers in Tharaka Nithi County.


The creche initiative will involve the construction of a special daycare center in markets across Tharaka Nithi County, where mothers can leave their children while they engage in economic activities. In the creches, children will be introduced to a specially designed curriculum, as well as be engaged in play sessions.


The County Government has established a multi-sectoral approach to the issues affecting Women's Livelihoods in Tharaka Nithi. By working with various departments in the County, a working group has overseen some of the initial phases of the programme.


Through public-public partnerships, Tharaka Nithi County is working with Kenyatta University in undertaking three interrelated studies, namely: observational studies on Women’s Livelihoods and Female Labor Force Participation (FLFP), plus an experimental study (a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of the effect of crèches on FLFP, child development, and women’s psychosocial wellbeing, all in Tharaka Nithi County, Kenya. These partners share the evidence based on the ongoing research and will publish these findings to inform even the ongoing drafting of the National Policy on Women and Care Work.


Research work for the project is being funded by the Melinda & Gates Foundation. The technical working group that includes the county government officials and researchers from Yale and Kenyatta University has been involved in the design of the programme and implementation, monitoring and evaluation. However, the actual construction works of the creche have remained the responsibility of the County Government of Tharaka Nithi. The human capital engaged in the project is county government staff.



The initiative is a disruptive innovation in Tharaka Nithi and Kenya at large. The creche initiative does exist in developed parts of the world but has not been exploited in Kenya.



A thirty per cent (30%) increase in women's labour force participation will be achieved within three years, by using research evidence to implement policies that reduce constraints to women's labour force participation as a result of childcare, resulting in increased economic independence, child development,

psychosocial well-being, and improved living standards at both the county and national levels.


They collect indicators like:

1. Economic Domain Variables (Women in paid employment, House and land ownership, access to factors of production) 

2. Human and Social Resource Variables (age, marital status, education, exposure to media, social capital access) 

3. Attitude towards social-cultural norms 

4. Decision-making on household and sexual reproduction 

5. Psychosocial wellbeing 

6. Children’s growth and development milestones The parameters of the model will be estimated using the methods in Heckman (1976) and Schultz (2004) and the RCT approaches (Miguel and Kremer, 2004).

Kenyatta University researchers will collect and disaggregate data.


The implementation of the creche will be focused on areas near market centers, as this is where most women in Tharaka Nithi engage in their day-to-day livelihood activities. It is planned and envisaged that in the localities where the creches will be constructed, other social amenities such as water, roads, playgrounds, security, and electricity will be enhanced. Therefore, by extension, other community members will benefit from these resources.


Currently, the creche at Chuka Market only serves the women who work at Chuka Market. In the future, they expect to have the creche in every market center in Tharaka Nithi County. A thirty per cent (30%) increase in women's labour force participation will be achieved within three years, by using research evidence to implement the Child Care Policy that will reduce constraints to women's labour force participation as a result of childcare. Resultant outcomes will include increased economic independence, improved child growth and development, improved women's psycho-social well-being, and improved livelihood outcomes at the household level.



Goal 1: End poverty in all of its forms 

Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages 

Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls 

Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all