Your Kenya posting

A families’ guide to living in BATUK

Overview

Kenya is a beautiful and diverse country and a posting to BATUK (British Army Training Unit Kenya) can offer tremendous opportunities to embrace the culture and to explore Kenya and its neighbouring countries. There are a myriad of safari adventures, trips to the coast, the Masai Mara and Mount Kenya to explore.

At BATUK Main (Nanyuki, Nyati Barracks) the local populace of Nanyuki mostly live a very simple and resourceful life, which can prove quite humbling. The town of Nanyuki continues to develop and expand. There are plenty of volunteering opportunities and charitable causes to get involved with. As English is one of the official languages, communication is not generally an issue.

BATUK is a unique posting, with both opportunities and challenges.

This page will give an overview of what a posting to Kenya can offer.

If you have any further question, please contact the AFF overseas manager, Esther Thomas: overseasmgr@aff.org

Please check our COVID-19 section for up-to-date information, as the coronavirus outbreak may affect the advice given on this page.

Kenya is currently a red list country. If you are due an assignment order (AO) be aware that your move as a family may be slightly delayed or impacted in other ways by this. Please contact the Unit Welfare office, your head of department, sponsor or replacing serving person for further clarification.

As soon as an AO is received, you are strongly encouraged to contact the BATUK Unit Welfare Officer who will forward the necessary documents, including the BATUK Mounting Instruction, the private vehicle import guide and the BATUK Education Suitability Review (ESR) if you have children of school age. Email batuk.welfare@gmail.com

If you have children at boarding school in the UK and claim CEA then please refer to our COVID-19 pages for information on interim guidance and advice on allowances for families overseas due to additional COVID-19 travel restrictions.

COVID-19 Allowances page and COVID-19 Overseas page.

Contents

01   Day to day living

The weather in Kenya is variable. Nanyuki (BATUK Main) is in the lea of Mount Kenya, (the second highest mountain in Africa). It’s a minimum of three hours’ drive from Nairobi. It generally experiences warmer daytime temperatures, and is cooler at night than Nairobi. The town lies along the equator and is home to several game reserves, national parks and conservancies.

Top tip: There are two annual rainy seasons, the long and short rains; and when it rains, it really does rain! So don’t banish all your winter clothes to storage, bring some warm clothes and wellies. The seasons also differ slightly, with the warmest weather being equivalent to UK wintertime.

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

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02   Welfare

The Community Centre on camp hosts a variety of weekly activities including coffee mornings, Parents ‘n’ Tots and youth club. These are largely dependent on volunteers within the community. Partners’ PT is held twice a week in the gym. There are also local activities to get involved with such a golf and Zumba sessions.

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

A host and sponsor system is in place. There is also a spouses’ welcome committee, which has been established to help welcome and support new arrivals. Families are to attend the families’ arrivals briefings once in country.

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03   Shopping

Nairobi has an abundance of malls and supermarkets, which offer a significantly wider choice than Nanyuki. Most things can be purchased although many items will cost more than in the UK. 

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

There is an array of curio shops spread throughout the town, in which to purchase local merchandise and negotiate with the locals. There are courier services that can also arrange local delivery into Nanyuki from sellers in Nairobi or other in country destinations. Nanyuki also has a variety of local restaurants, (Le Rustique, Kongoni’s, Jibs, Nook, Cape Chestnut, Barneys, Soames) stores, coffee shops and banks, including Barclays.

BATUK actively encourages families to use local resources and integrate as fully as possible into the local community.

Online shopping via the UK is possible but may cost more and take some weeks.

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

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04   Pre-screening

As soon as you are in receipt of an AO you should contact the Families’ Section at MOD Abbeywood in order to obtain the family travel pack and start the medical and educational supportability checks. The email for the Families’ Section is UKSTRATCOM-DefSp-DSCOM-FamSec@mod.gov.uk.

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 six-month vaccines, if necessary. Please contact them in advance. Also remember to bring your children’s red book for the practice nurse to update or alternatively, register for the online eRedbook: eRedbook – The Digital Red Book For Parents. There is an allocated health visitor to BATUK.

All parents need to obtain educational clearance for their children in terms of supportability and any special educational needs. This is done via CEAS for BATUK, as there is no MOD school.

As the clearance process can take up to nine weeks it is recommended that an early application is made to ensure that the needs of the child can be met.

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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 extremely 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 and has contracted security officers 24/7. Some SSFA have alarms fitted but not all.

Most housing allocated is above entitlement and is of good standard. 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 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 PackPlease 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 where 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 to 16 weeks (owing to Kenya being on the red list) 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 waiting for 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.

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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.

Spouses looking to work remotely whilst in Kenya should seek advice from BATUK chain of command on their individual circumstances against the Defence Co-operation Agreement (DCA).

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07   Education

The Mounting Instruction outlines the application process.

The current list of schools is as follows:

There are a limited number of crèches and nurseries in each of the local areas, but this is a personal choice and BATUK cannot endorse private businesses. Currently, the Braeburn schools listed above have nursery facilities and they can give you details of other providers.

Any family who has a child with Special Educational Needs (SEN) must contact CEAS before accepting an assignment to Kenya.

All senior school children/ those attending schools in Nairobi will be weekly boarders. At present, transport for children is arranged via BATUK school buses and is a minimum three hour journey on Kenyan roads.

For this reason, some parents choose to place their children into a UK boarding school. 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 (UNMIN) the MOD will support these additional costs as part of the SCV.

You are responsible for ensuring that the education in Kenya would be appropriate for your child/children before accepting a posting to Kenya.

 

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08   Medical & dental

The medical centre is at BATUK Main. Telephone consultations are available for families and Service personnel based in Nairobi, with the doctors at Nyati.  Online e-consult is the method of booking any medical appointments. When needed, provisions are made at the Aga Khan Hospital (AKH) in Nairobi, approx. 250km 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. This also includes opticians. There is a dentist available in Nanyuki once per week and another based in Nairobi, opposite the AKH. There are plans for a new dental centre within Nyati Barracks.

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.

For more information see our Overseas Health page.

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.

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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)).

 

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10   Transport and getting around

You will need transport for everyday use and long-distance travel. Please note that only approved BATUK taxi or bus services should be used and this can become expensive.

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.

There is a specific BATUK Guide to importing private vehicles into Kenya.

Key points on timescales and administration process:

  • ASAP (at least 3 months out) request this Guide and permission to import vehicle from DCOS BATUK CTG-BATUK@DCOS@mod.gov.uk.
  • V5C must be in the name of the serving person shipping the vehicle. If the SP’s dependant is named on the V5C, duty tax will be applied as only the SP is tax exempt.
  • You are advised to contact BATUK MovCon for dates when the ships depart the UK – CTG-BATUK-HQ-MovCon@mod.gov.uk

Key points about vehicles to note:

  • Car must not be older than 8 years at the time of import into Kenya
  • QISJ – Quality Inspection Services Japan – must be done prior to leaving the UK (3 months’ validity)
  • Vehicle must be right-hand drive; left-hand drive vehicles will require special permission.

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. There are curfews for travelling in place, which are restricted to the hours of 0600-1500hrs outside of Nanyuki. There are also additional curfews in place locally, owing to the pandemic.

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

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