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Factors Affecting Local Kenyans' Participation in Rock Climbing


In April 2020, Climbing Life Kenya undertook a study of the factors affecting participation by local Kenyans in rock climbing activities. This exploratory study included a survey of novel and experienced Kenyan rock climbers from varying socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds and review of existing literature on the subjects of inclusion and participation gaps in rock climbing. Involving the local population in rock climbing is a critical step towards the continued growth of rock climbing in Kenya and findings on factors hindering such participation will be instrumental in developing an environment that engenders local participation whilst contributing to Kenya’s rock climbing body of knowledge from a local perspective. This Summary of Findings presents primary data gathered from the responses received from the survey participants.

Premise of Study

There are different schools of thought on local participation in rock climbing in Kenya. One school of thought contends that there is a misconception that locals are not interested in climbing. It argues that the locals are in fact unseen and disregarded due to the lack of access to rock climbing activities and as a result of being structurally excluded from active participation; thereby leading to an aversion to the sport by the local community even before they even get a chance to try it. Other perspectives assert that rock climbing is a lifestyle local Kenyans do not subscribe to by virtue of their background whilst others contend that rock climbing in Kenya has a rich history spanning over 100 years and therefore no problems exist as they have not seen or experienced any problems.

If there is no problem and rock climbing in Kenya is an open and welcoming activity in which everyone can participate, why then in an African-majority country with numerous rock climbing destinations and with a history spanning over a century do we have so few Kenyans being aware of rock climbing's existence or even participating in the sport? Why is there a near-absence of local African rock climbers in documented Kenyan rock climbing history? Are there circumstances, systems, structures, or conditions which exclude locals in rock climbing? Or are Kenyans simply disinterested in the sport?

This thought-provoking study sought to explore local Kenyans' participation in rock climbing by better understanding if any barriers to such participation exist. The premise of this study is that getting more insight on local Kenyans' participation in rock climbing activities from a local perspective will help focus on solutions that address the root barriers to participation and enable meaningful action towards changing the conditions which keep most local Kenyans from experiencing rock climbing or even knowing of its existence.

Request for summary of findings here

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