Your Kenya posting

A families’ guide to living in BATUK

Overview

Kenya is beautiful and diverse country, and a posting here can offer tremendous opportunities for travel, adventure and safaris. The locals mostly live a very simple and resourceful life, which can prove to be very humbling at times. With English as one of the official languages, communication is not generally an issue. It is a unique posting, and with opportunity comes challenge; however, there is a huge amount of support provided and what seems daunting at first soon becomes second nature.

This page will give an overview of what a posting to Kenya can offer. Once you have received your assignment order you will then receive a more in-depth information pack from the welfare office, and information from Abbey Wood.

If you have any further questions, or wish to receive a copy of the latest pre-arrival information for Kenya, please contact the AFF Kenya Co-ordinator at kenya@aff.org.uk.

Contents

01   Day to day living

The weather in Kenya is variable. Nairobi seldom gets too warm and can sometimes feel quite chilly, even cold. Nanyuki is a market town in the Laikipia County of Kenya. In the lea of Mount Kenya, (the second highest mountain in Africa) it generally experiences warmer daytime temperatures, but is cooler at night than Nairobi. Nanyuki is a minimum 3 hours’ drive from Nairobi. The town lies along the equator, and is home to several game reserves, national parks and conservancies. There is lots to explore, including Mount Kenya itself!

Top tip: when it rains, it really rains! So do not banish all your winter clothes to storage, bring some warm clothes and wellies.

Top tip: A little street sense goes a long way in Kenya and security should always be high on the agenda.

02   Welfare

The Community Centre at Nyati Barracks (BATUK Main, Nanyuki) hosts a variety of weekly activities. These are largely dependent on volunteers within the community. Partners’ PT is held twice a week in the gym, in addition to Zumba. There are also local activities to get involved with.

Ad hoc, termly and annual social events are arranged for families, wives and children, and there are plenty of opportunities for local community engagement and charity work.

A host and sponsor system is in place for new arrivals and the temporary provision of mobile phones via Welfare, although resources are limited and will depend upon availability.

03   Shopping

Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, has an abundance of malls and supermarkets, which offer a significantly wider choice than Nanyuki. Most things can be bought, although some things may cost more than in the UK. 

Nanyuki Mall, (a short distance from Nyati Barracks, Nanyuki) hosts a supermarket, various amenities and a few small independent stores. However, clothes shopping is limited.

There is an array of curio shops spread throughout the town, in which to purchase local merchandise and negotiate with the locals. It also has variety of local restaurants, stores, coffee shops and banks, including Barclays.

A large part of shopping is done online from the UK.

Top tip: Sign up to Amazon Prime to receive Pantry orders and research which stores offer postage to BFPO.

Top tip: There are a number of hotels and excursions that offer discounts and special rates to BATUK. Always check first!

04   Pre-screening

As soon as you are in receipt of an Assignment Order you should contact the Families Section at MOD Abbeywood in order to obtain the family travel pack. The email for the Families Section is desdscom-famsec-gp@mod.gov.uk.

For medical screening there is a new process led by the Global Medical Supportability Cell (GMSC) at Defence Primary Health Care Lichfield. The Families Section will send out medical forms but these are to be returned directly to the GMSC, and they decide whether any medical conditions can be supported at the location where the family are assigned.

You are advised to start the vaccination process as early as possible, as some courses can take weeks to complete. For up-to-date advice on the required vaccinations for Kenya, go to www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk. BATUK med centre nurses can complete the 6-month vaccines, if necessary. Please contact in advance. Please also bring your children’s red book for the practice nurse to update.

The Families Section will also screen families for educational needs.

05   Housing

There is no MOD owned Service Family Accommodation (SFA) in Kenya and all SSFA (hiring) is rented from local landlords. Housing stock is limited, so there is no luxury of choosing. The housing provided varies, from individual houses in a compound to estates of multiple houses within a compound, and standalone housing. Security is a high priority and all SSFA is gated, fitted with alarms and contracted security officers 24/7.

Most housing allocated is above entitlement and is of good standard, having been lifted to UK specifications. Please be mindful that this is still Kenya. All SSFA comes fully furnished with basic furniture and white goods including fridge, chest freezer, washing machine, tumble drier and cooker. Other items such as vacuum cleaner, iron, ironing board and crockery are provided on a temporary basis until your own personal effects arrive in Kenya, as part of the Get You In Pack. Please note dishwashers are not provided and there is no plumbing to allow for one.

Top tip: bring things to make your house a home, the furniture is plain and pictures and ornaments can transform the place you live.

Top tip: if you are travelling with young children, bring toys and games in your luggage to keep them entertained as it can often take ten weeks for your personal effects to arrive. It may also be beneficial to bring a portable device to enable you to watch TV, as they are not routinely supplied; and it will be a matter of awaiting your freight.

Top tip: There is also the option of employing domestic help. This can be discussed with your host/sponsor. Currently BATUK also employ gardeners for estate and SSFA maintenance.

06   Spousal employment opportunities

Employment and volunteering opportunities are very restricted in Kenya and currently the educational/training facilities for spouses are limited, so you are advised to consider how you will use your time and bridge this gap in your CV. Consider some distance learning opportunities.

Recently, the Department of Immigration gave permission for individuals to work remotely from home on behalf of a UK company as long as the business has no involvement with Kenyan nationals/businesses. Additionally, there are plans for a learning and resource centre at Nyati Barracks, Nanyuki in 2020.

07   Education

The BATUK approved schools in Kenya are both private and offer high standards of education and a wide range of extra-curricular activities.

There is only limited special needs provision in Kenya. Any family who has a child with Special Educational Needs (SEN) must contact CEAS before accepting an assignment to Kenya.

Nairobi – BATUK children living in Nairobi will go to Braeburn Garden Estate School. This means that all children from the age of 2.5 to 16 years will attend either the nursery, primary or senior school.

Nanyuki – There are currently two primary school options: Braeburn Nanyuki International School & Hampton School which cater for 2.5 – 13 years.

There are no secondary schools in Nanyuki that are CEAS approved; all senior school children aged 11-16 have the option to weekly board (Mon to Fri) at Braebrun Garden Estate School in Nairobi. Transport is provided, but parents need to be aware this is a minimum three-hour journey on Kenyan roads.

For this reason, some parents choose to place their children into a UK boarding school instead. UK boarders are entitled to six Service Children’s Visits (SCV) per year, some of which can be reversed to enable one parent to travel to the UK in the shorter holidays. Where civilian airlines offer an Unaccompanied Minor Scheme the MOD will support these additional costs as part of the SCV. However, it remains a parental responsibility to research and organise the safe passage of their children to and from school.

There are a couple of local childcare providers both in Nairobi and Nanyuki.

You are responsible for ensuring that the education in Kenya would be appropriate for your child/children before accepting a posting to Kenya. In 2017, DCYP produced an Education Suitability Report for BATUK.

08   Medical & dental

The main medical centre is in BATUK Main (within Nyati Barracks). Telephone consultations are available for families and service personnel based in Nairobi, with the doctors at Nyati.  When needed, provisions are made at the Aga Khan Hospital (AKH) in Nairobi, approx. 250Kms away from Nanyuki – it is a private hospital run by Kenyan specialists. They may provide similar treatment to the UK. However, for any routine surgery, the UK is recommended.

Dental appointments can be made via the medical centre in Nanyuki. This also includes opticians. The dentist is based in Nairobi, opposite the AKH. There are plans for a new dental centre, within Nyati Barracks, to be operational in 2020.

Regarding pregnancy, current advice is to leave Kenya at 24 weeks, in order to ensure the safety of mother and child. Current policy states that all deliveries take place in the UK and the child returns at 4 months of age, after their immunisations. Currently, there is no midwife within BATUK, nor do the medical team have specialist training or experience, to guarantee that the care would be in accordance with NICE guidelines. The Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT) are not trained to transfer premature babies and do not have the equipment to do so.

Top tip: If you are on long-term medication, you should contact the Senior Medical Officer in BATUK and bring at least six months’ supply of the medication with you. Whilst BATUK do hold a stock of medicine they cannot guarantee that they hold every brand and type. The logistic process is fragile and unreliable so it is best to bring a supply of your own which can be stored in the dispensary whilst more is ordered.

09   Pets

Bringing your pets to Kenya can be very expensive. There are currently no quarantine requirements, but your pets will require a passport, vaccinations and a pet import licence from the Kenyan High Commission. It’s advisable to research your options some months in advance. If you’re in the UK contact DEFRA or the Pet Travel Scheme helpline if you need more information: pettravel@apha.gov.uk / 0370 241 1710   (Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm (closed on bank holidays)).

10   Transport and getting around

You will need transport for everyday use and long-distance travel. Vehicles purchased in Kenya are usually more expensive than in the UK. You have the option of purchasing them on arrival, either from Kenyans or other BATUK personnel. Another option worth considering, is to ship a vehicle over from the UK. Only approved BATUK taxi or bus services should be used and this can become expensive.

A 4X4 is recommended to cope with the many dirt roads in Kenya, and poor road surfaces and adverse weather. Should you choose to ship your vehicle over, it needs to be less than seven years and six months old. You can use a military maintenance sail vessel, but personnel will be liable for importation costs.

To drive in Kenya, you must sit the Kenyan matrix test (a Kenyan driving theory test); this can be completed in the UK at your unit or soon after arrival.

Top tip: Driving in Kenya is an experience. Whilst they drive on the left hand side, you need to have a high level of awareness to cope with the many pot holes and frequent unexpected manoeuvres from other local drivers!

Driving at night is not advised in Nanyuki due to poor street lighting and road surfaces. Driving between Nairobi and Nanyuki is restricted to daylight hours.

Top tip: Traffic in Nairobi can be particularly heavy, with much congestion especially during peak hours. So be prepared!

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