The United Nations in Kenya

Kenya was admitted to United Nations membership on 16 December 1963, the same year the country attained independence. In 1996, the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON) was established, becoming one of four major UN office sites and the UN's headquarters in Africa. 

The 1970s saw further expansion of the United Nations presence in Kenya when the country become host to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). UNEP moved to the Kenyatta Conference Centre in 1974, and on to its current location in Gigiri in 1975, where it was joined in 1978 by the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements, now known as UN-HABITAT. Today there are 23 UN agencies operating from Nairobi.

In the Delivering as One Project in Turkana County, UN agencies in Kenya are leaving no one behind in building community resilience


  1. 1975: UNEP moves to its current location in Gigiri and was joined by UNCHS (today called UN-HABITAT). The two formed the nucleus of United Nations presence in Kenya, today comprising 23 agencies.
  2. 1992: 15 new refugee camps established to respond to first major influx, with UNHCR and WFP giving food assistance to more than 420,000 refugees from Somalia, Sudan and Ethiopia.
  3. 2011: The UN complex containing a completely energy and carbon-neutral building , housing UNEP and UN-Habitat was opened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and then President Mwai Kibaki.
  4. 2018: UNEP and UNON replace plastic bottles with glass bottles and announce ban on single-use plastics from cafeterias, replacing with sustainable or biodegradable alternatives
  5. 2018: President Uhuru Kenyatta endorsed as the global Champion of the Young People’s Agenda on the side-lines of the 73rd United Nations General Assembly.
  6. 2019: UN Kenya hosts the African Regional High-Level Conference on Counter-Terrorism and the Prevention of Violent Extremism 

The Sustainable Development Goals in Kenya

The Sustainable Development Goals are a global call to action to end poverty, protect the earth’s environment and climate, and ensure that people everywhere can enjoy peace and prosperity. These are the goals the UN is working on in Kenya: