Juakali Industry: A Pillar of Resilience and Opportunity in Kenya


By Melvis Gala
In a nation where manual labor is both a cornerstone of the economy and a symbol of resilience, the juakali industry stands as a testament to the strength and determination of Kenya’s workforce. For many, this sector represents more than just a job—it is a lifeline and a source of pride.

Morris Ochieng, chairman of the Juakali Association in Eldoret town, offers a profound perspective on the challenges and rewards that come with this vital industry. “The juakali sector is the backbone of livelihood for many Kenyans,” Ochieng says. “Yet, despite its significance, there is a troubling underestimation of the skills and efforts of those working within it.”

The juakali industry, a network of informal artisans and laborers working in open-air markets, employs a significant portion of Kenya’s population. This sector, which spans various trades from metalwork to carpentry, has been instrumental in providing employment opportunities in a country where formal job creation often falls short of demand.

David, a juakali worker, shares his personal experience: “The job has served as a great source of finance for me and has helped me maintain a stable life.” His words echo the sentiments of many who find stability and purpose through their work in the juakali industry.

Despite the economic contributions of the juakali sector, workers often face significant challenges, including lack of formal recognition and limited access to resources and training. These difficulties highlight the need for greater awareness and support for the sector’s growth and sustainability.

The Juakali Association under Ochieng’s leadership is at the forefront of efforts to advocate for improved conditions and opportunities for workers. “We are working to shed light on the hard work and skill that goes into this industry,” Ochieng explains. “Our goal is to elevate the juakali sector from being a mere survival mechanism to a respected and viable career path.”

As the labor market continues to evolve, the juakali industry’s role in offering job opportunities remains crucial. It is essential for policymakers, businesses, and communities to recognize the sector’s value and work towards fostering an environment that supports its development.

In a country where job dynamics are a significant concern, understanding the contemporary challenges faced by juakali workers can serve as a catalyst for positive change. By building cooperation and raising awareness, there is hope for a future where the contributions of the juakali industry are fully acknowledged and appreciated.

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