Going Back in Time: SNV

In the spirit of 60 years of bilateral relations between Kenya and the Netherlands, we are going back in time to explore the history of our strong ties. 

SNV has been present in Kenya since 1967. In 2022, the organization celebrated 55 years of successfully delivering an impact that matters to communities they work with and for. Jeen Kootstra (Country Director Kenya and Burundi) tells us more about the history of SNV.

Can you tell us a bit about the history of your organization?

SNV started as an organisation of young volunteers that were being sent by Netherlands Government to developing countries to support communities in agricultural production, construction of water infrastructure, nutrition and health.57 years later, we are still SNV. Now a global development partner driven by a vision of a better world: a world where across every society, all people live with dignity and have equal opportunities to thrive. We aim to transform the agri-food, energy, and water systems to enable sustainable and more equitable lives for all.

In Kenya, we are currently implementing 20 projects in collaboration with private sector and government. Our activities are facilitated by a team of 150 development experts.

What have been the most notable changes of working in Kenya over the past decades?

SNV has proven to be as resilient as the people of Kenya. Early in the years, SNV received core funding from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. However, this funding mechanism was changed and between 2012 and 2016 the core funding was gradually reduced requiring SNV to build its own projects. The journey has been successful and has enabled SNV to deliver on over 60 projects in the last 10 years in Kenya.

Our team has also grown. Initially, SNV would employ about 25 staff with a high portion of Dutch nationals. This has since changed, in Kenya alone, SNV employs over 150 staff and consultants. Only a small portion of our staff is international and hails from 7 different countries!

Devolution in year 2010 gave  us an opportunity expand our partnerships. Now, we have established relations with all 47 Counties to ensure sustainability of projects.

Beeld: ©SNV
SNV Team picture (2024)

Can you describe what is special about working in Kenya?

Kenya is special due to its diversity; from favourable weather and high potential for agriculture in certain areas and challenging weather and infrastructure in others.  It also has a thriving private sector and is very strong in technology development, IT in particular. An example is the strong mobile money network reaching deep into the rural areas.

There has been a great reception of innovations across the 3 sectors that SNV works in, ranging from mechanisation of agricultural processes, use of renewable energy in productive uses like drying, cooling and irrigation and even in rural water resource management by communities.

What is your wish for the coming 60 years of NL-Kenya relations?

For the coming 60 years, SNV Kenya envisions a relationship with the Netherlands that continues to be based on mutual benefit and shared goals. We hope to further strengthen our cooperation, focusing on sustainable development and resilience against climate change, to ensure equitable lives for all.

For more information about this sector or any other agricultural questions feel free to contact us via NAI-LNV@minbuza.nl. For the latest updates on activities, new articles and more follow us on X (Twitter) on @NLAgiKenya and subscribe to our newsletter by sending us an email. In case of any non-agriculture questions for the Embassy of the Netherlands in Nairobi see, this website for contact information.