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Low Wages - Low Value of Life

Sonal Shah | East Africa (Kenya Uganda Tanzania)

These workers demolished an entire house in two days using only hand tools such as mallets - to make way for the new bypass road. They had no harnesses, safety nets or scaffolding.

Workers in East Africa earn a pittance compared to the Western world – construction, transport, electricity and fishing to name a few key industries. But the heart of the problem is the value put on the worker’s life – it is not a matter of health and safety. Workers will carry on against all odds to eke out a living knowing full well that in the event of their death, their families will have to carry on as normal since there is little importance put on their lives.

Construction is seen as a predictor of the economy and on the other hand the thousands of workers employed in the industry never see good wages despite the huge profits from the construction projects and despite horrendous working conditions. Similarly the motorbike riders in East Africa (known as boda boda) are also seen as a cornerstone in the economy. They too earn a pittance (around $10 a day according to Motorcycles Assemblers Association of Kenya) but are subject to horrendous risks and loads. It is only the resilience of these workers that keeps them going.

I have been living in Kenya since 2014 and this is one of the issues that has touched me deeply. The workers I have come across and have been photographig since 2014 have all a smile on the face despite horrific conditions of work, 

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