Nearly half of Kenyans are poor and cannot afford a decent lifestyle, according to a new study by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).
The report titled ‘Spatial Dimension of Well-being in Kenya: Where are the Poor?’ says 45.2 per cent of Kenyans are simply chugging along and can barely afford the bare minimum – basic basket of food and non-food items.
The report paints a gloomy picture of inequality in different parts of the country, with the study having found out that while residents of some regions enjoy the good life, others are wallowing in abject poverty.
While only two in ten Nairobi residents live below the poverty line (or spend less than Sh2,913 in a month), nine out of 10 residents in Turkana spend less than Sh1,562 monthly.
Turkana County, with a poverty incidence of 87.5 per cent, has the highest number of poor people followed by Wajir with a poverty incidence of 84.2 per cent.
Nairobi and Kiambu counties, with a poverty incidence 21.8 per cent and 24.2 per cent respectively, have the least number of poverty-afflicted people.
Generally, the report shows rural dwellers are poorer than their urban counterparts, showing correlation between increased urbanisation and economic growth.
“Nearly one in two people in rural Kenya are poor compared to only three in 10 in urban Kenya. Given that close to 70 per cent of Kenyans still live in rural areas, poverty is still more of a rural phenomenon,” noted the report authored by Paul Samoei, Samuel Kipruto, Mary Wanyonyi, David Muthami and John Bore.
At the Constituency level, Embakasi West in Nairobi, with a poverty incidence of 10.2 per cent, has the least number of poor people while Turkana East has the highest headcount of people in poverty at 93.1 per cent.
At the ward level, Lower Savannah Ward in Embakasi East, with a poverty head count of 3.3 per cent, has the least number of poor people while in Katilia Ward in Turkana County, almost everyone is poor. The ward has a poverty incidence of 98.9 per cent.
More than half of the people living in rural areas, or 50.5 per cent, are poor, with a poverty gap of 14.1 per cent.
In other words, on average, each of the individuals requires, on a monthly basis, an amount of money equivalent to 14.1 per cent of the poverty line (Sh2,913) to be able to sustain a welfare status commensurate to the poverty line.
Of the 25.8 million people living in rural areas, 13 million live below the poverty line.
Worryingly, although rural poverty reduced from 53.1 per cent in 1997 to 49.7 per cent in 2005/06, it marginally went up to 50.5 per cent in 2009, meaning efforts to contain poverty are not bearing fruit. This was not the case in urban areas, which experienced rapid reduction of poverty from 50.1 per cent in 1997 to 34.4 per cent in 2005/06, before dropping further to 33.5 per cent in 2009.