Poverty in Kenya: facts and causes
Poverty eradication has been a headache for the leaders of the developing countries all around the globe. Some of the developing countries have gone far and some are still on the verge of making more effective poverty alleviation plans. Poverty in Kenya has been a major issue for years now and it is high time to act so that the nation can plan to prosper.
Poverty in Kenya at a glance
Kenya is among the many countries that still lie in the category of developing countries. Poverty eradication is a difficult task for this country’s people. Half of Kenya is very poor even in the year 2018. The latest report from UNICEF shows that an approximate of 46% Kenyans fall below the poverty line. Things may not look very hard for Kenya when we read papers and watch a few news bulletins but in reality, there are some things we probably do not know of and sometimes overlook the poverty in Kenya. In this article, we will get an insight of how things really are in our country.
Kenya is a country of economic and social inequalities. Due to the many contrasts of which Kenya is a country of, huge segments of the population struggle every day. According to the World Bank report, the people in the world below the poverty line are earning less than two Dollars each day. The people are vulnerable to social, economic, and climatic changes. Many Kenyans have access to basic education, healthcare, sanitation and clean water. Because of these mixed reasons, Millennium Development Goals progress regarding social security is also mixed.
In 2010, Kenya enacted a new constitution. This constitution mainly focused on the demographic, historic, geographic, and violation of human rights. The reason for this formation was to address these issues which have barricaded progress in the country for a long time. This exemption let the power from the National Government devolve to the 47 newly decentralized counties.
Causes of poverty in Kenya
1. Poverty in rural areas is really high
It might seem like the whole of Kenya is poverty-stricken, but that is not how it really is. You can connect poverty to a few definite regions on the basis of social or political influence. Agriculture is the main pillar of Kenya. 79% of the country’s population practice farming and it is sad to see that the same population who bestow the country with food is the poorest.
2. The rich and the poor co-exist
Generally, the society’s poor live by themselves in the slums while the prosperous fill up the residential areas and communities. But in this country, the slums are right beside the urbanized areas. The affluent are dependent on the poor for house management. This is how it works out in Kenya. If only the poor were paid better, things would be different.
3. Fault in the system
The government is supposed to be at the frontline holding back poverty from striking the country’s people, but it seems like things do not work out in the same way in Kenya.According to Transparency International, Kenya is one of the most corrupt nations. The officials are probably one of the biggest reasons why people in Kenya are still poverty-stricken. They are stealing from the poor people and make them pay bribes which contributes to the poverty levels in Kenya.
4. Not enough scope
Lack of business and employment opportunities in Kenya is one of the key reasons behind the poverty in our country. A lot of people need to rely on farming for their income. There is a scarcity of jobs in Kenya which gives the people no sense of employment. People also face many hurdles when they decide to set up a business in Kenya.
5. The contribution of the western countries
You will come across reports on different business projects which are initiated in Kenya. Most of these projects are taken up by western countries via NGOs and/or economic partnerships. The fact that a lot of people miss out on is that despite gigantic profits being made, most of them are not spent in Kenya.
6. Lack of education
We often talk about how this world should maintain equilibrium; how everything should be made equal for everybody. We discuss the necessity of education in the developing countries and how proper education can make people not only educated but also literate. But when we are talking about educating the poor areas of the world, we should also think how, and what should be done in order to make education available to everyone conveniently.
Education in Kenya is not well furnished because it is expensive. Out of all the things in the world, this is one element in life which should not cost us much. Unfortunately, with more development, the world is turning totally business-centric. And this is why education in Kenya is not affordable to the poor people. Poor Kenyans are unable to see the merits of getting educated and this results in lack of opportunities for making money.
7. The population balloon
It is a well-known fact that bigger households require more money and it is safe to assume that poor families will have a lower birth rate. This is not the case in Kenya, however. The poor people in Kenya have an average of 4-6 children in every household as compared to the affluent who only have a child or two. This also contributes to the higher poverty level in Kenya.
Contradictions in a country of contrasts
A country still trying to develop itself is not expected to have much of a lifestyle but you will be surprised to find out the big number of expensive luxury cars, high-end yachts, and the number of rich people in Kenya.
You will not find many people who are contributing to the development of the nation or helping out the poor and the needy. Although there are enough capable wealthy individuals who can help turn the tables, even if an inch, you won’t see anybody trying.
That being said, when you visit the slums in Kenya, you will find the poor people handling the latest technologies like laptops and smartphones. This might seem odd since they are slum inhabitants who are supposedly poor. But Kenyans have a different perspective towards life. They believe in living the present and not worrying about the future.
It might hold some advantages sometimes but it is not really a good perspective in a world which is changing fast. When people of this country learn to change their approach and start saving for the future, they will automatically start making progress without even realizing it.
Effects of poverty in Kenya
It does not matter which country we are talking about when we discuss the effects of poverty. Many people regard poverty as a curse. While we are not dealing with theoretical philosophy right now, there should be a more practical reason to believe. We do not know if poverty is really a curse or is it just the mistakes people make. But this much can be said that as long as poverty is not eradicated, development will progress slowly.
Let us talk about some of the effects which poverty has glued to the country and its people.
Poverty is a kind of situation which gets installed in our heads just like malicious software installed on our computers. It is a kind of fear that stops people from being able to explore the qualities they have in them. Simply put, those who have sculpted the shape of their identity with poverty do not possibly see themselves in a rich position. And if you do not believe in yourself, you will be doomed to regress despite having all the essential qualities.
The feeling of negativity is a big reason as of why almost half the Kenyan population is below the poverty line. Poverty has pushed Kenyans to the pits of depression, barrenness, and pessimism which have contributed to the population degrading down to alcoholism and turning into criminalists.
There will not be progressive changes as long as the people stick to doing the same things over and over again while anticipating better results.
Lack of dissemination of proper information to the population is another reason behind why Kenya sees more regress than progress. The citizens should be made able to access basic information through which they can turn their way of thinking and perspective about the world and about their individual lives better and helpful.
In brief, poverty in Kenya has resulted in the following detrimental effects:
- Lower literacy rate
- Increased crime rate
- Low social mobility
- Increased feeling of social insecurity
- Proliferation of diseases and short life expectancy
- Social tensions and inequality conflicts
Poverty reduction strategies in Kenya
In 2008, a long-term development project was launched in Kenya. This blueprint was named Vision 2030 and its main objective is a prosperous and competitive country with high-quality life by 2030. This project has been initiated to guide the nation and take it forward so as to meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. This blueprint also aims to alter a developing Kenya into a new industrialized and middle-income nation.
The Government of Kenya understands the fact that economic progress there mainly depends on agriculture, manufacturing, energy sector, and tourism. Because all these need support, and to have all these work well, there has to be sustainable management of resources.
The evidence speaks about Kenya’s agriculture-led progress to be two times more effective than an industrialization-led growth. It can be made possible by maximizing agricultural smallholding productivity and increasing non-farming activities. The Government of Kenya looks forward to vitalizing the rural economy by making financial services available to the backward communities and enabling the growth of smallholding enterprises.
Kenya came across forbidding blocks in June 2011 when the drought called the Horn of Africa left 150,000 refugees and 3.75 million Kenyans in need of compassion and aid. Kenya faces a hard time with the existence of over 500,000 Somali refugees and 30,000 from South Sudan. The emergency was effectively responded to by UNICEF and partners and they helped in bringing the crisis under control.
Education is key to reduction of poverty in Kenya
As we have already mentioned earlier, Kenya needs more education; education that is proper and affordable. Most people tend to miss the truth that children are the pillars of the nation. It is necessary for every child to not just learn to read and write, but be literate cultured. There is a fine line between being educated and being literate. Education is what is going to change the perspective of an individual and show him/her what life is all about and how it should be dealt with.
If it is necessary to solve a nation’s problems, there is hardly any point in trying to fix the minds of the adults, but the children. A mind injected with years of ideas and facts cannot be easily altered. But the new generation can be moulded into a strong set of pillars which will support the development and growth of the nation as a whole.
Indicators of poverty in Kenya
It is to be noted that the historical patterns of the inequity in terms of poverty only means that there are also some critical challenges. It was found that the children are facing kind of deprivation issues. This can be solved only by focusing on the added support to budgeting, service delivery and planning.
Corruption is also a very effective poverty indicator in Kenya. The money that is sent for development of the country is mostly driven towards the pockets of interested groups. This is only making things worse in terms of overall development and poverty eradication in the country.
Poverty levels in Kenya
Luxury has a different meaning in Kenya; basic sources of livelihood are often considered as luxurious items in Kenya. However, the poverty levels can be understood briefly as under the following points:
- Most of the poor people in Kenya are living in the rural areas.
- Almost half of the population are living in poverty.
- The AIDS/HIV outbreak drove a large number of Kenyans to poverty.
- Unpredictable and devastating weather and climatic factors have also contributed to the high poverty levels.
- The abjectly poor communities have taken shelter in the northern regions of the country.
- The uncontrollable population growth has helped in straining services and infrastructure, hence leading more Kenyans towards poverty.
- Excessive corruption lowers down poverty-fighting efforts.
- When it is about the increased poverty levels, the women are considered as a vulnerable group.
- The growth in the literacy levels did not affect the poverty levels in Kenya.
- Kenya lags economic diversity which has caused the poverty levels to increase.
Most of the Kenyans are living in the places where there is a higher potential for agriculture which comprises an approximate of 18% of the total area of the country. This shows how stressed the resources are. This is definitely not enough for providing the basic amount of income to the Kenyans. The accounted population is so much higher that, in the sectors where there is agricultural potential, it is around 6 times more than that of Kenya’s average of around 55 persons per square kilometre.
On the other hand, the rural economy is solely dependent on farming that counts to an average of 75% of the total agricultural output of the country. There is also another factor that, most of the farmers solely depend on rain with very much less modern animal husbandry or irrigation taking place. Poverty has also increased because of the unpredictable weather and climate which has created chaos in the lives of the poor Kenyans.
Poverty in Kenya statistics
The headcount ratio for Poverty at $1.90 per day (2011 PPP) percentage of the population was 21.5% for 1997 and 33.6% for 2005. The population has also increased from 47.2 million in 2015 to 48.5 million in the year 2016. As per the data of October 2017, World Bank, here are the following data-
The overall urban and rural poverty lines include the following, 2,913 Kenya Shillings and 1,562 per person per month. They include very minimum provisions for non-food as well as food expenditures.
In the year 2005-2006, 46% of the Kenyans were poor, as they were not even in the condition to provide for the daily amount of regular calorie consumption. As we are aware of the fact that majority of the population are living in the rural areas. Many of the people turn out to be very poor, it could be seen that approximately one out of every five people are living in poverty.
Balance of trade of a country can be analysed for measuring its poverty levels. If there is a trade surplus then it is definitely a good thing, but if there is a trade deficit, it means that the amounts of imports are greater than the export which is a measurement of poverty indicator as well. In January 2018, Kenya had recorded a trade deficit amounting to 104,019 million KES.
The increased population and the deficit in the Current Account is another indicator of poverty. Not just this, if we summarize the overall data and statistics it can be seen that nearly three in ten people are living in poverty in urban Kenya whereas, for the rural Kenya it is one in two people. This is terrifying because a huge number of the total population is living in the rural areas. Thus, it may be concluded that, poverty may be a rural phenomenon for Kenya.