A woman buying foodstuffs in a supermarket.

A woman buying foodstuffs in a supermarket. Nine out of 10 Kenyans say the country’s economy is doing badly, a survey shows.

| File | Nation Media Group

Nine out of 10 Kenyans feel pinch of bad economy – survey

Nine out of 10 Kenyans say the country’s economy is doing badly, a survey shows.

The survey, which polled 2,400 Kenyans between November and December last year, was conducted by pan-African research network Afrobarometer, whose Kenyan unit is based at the University of Nairobi’s (UoN) Institute of Development Studies. 

It shows 85 per cent of Kenyans describe the country’s economic situation as “fairly bad” or “very bad”, a 30 per cent increase compared to the findings of a similar survey done in 2019, which highlights a worsening economic situation in the two-year period.

The study shows almost three-quarters (74 per cent) of Kenyans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, which is also a 20 per cent increase from the 54 per cent who held a similar view two years earlier.

A majority of the respondents indicated that in the year to the survey, tough economic conditions had rendered them unable to cater for basic necessities such as food and shelter. 

“Large majorities of citizens say the country is headed in the wrong direction and describe their living conditions as bad. Majorities experienced shortages of basic necessities such as food, water and medical care during the year preceding the survey,” said Afrobarometer.

More sinking into poverty

On the other hand, the number of Kenyans who feel their lives have become better in the months preceding the survey has shrunk, signalling that more people are sinking into poverty than those whose lives are improving.

“Only one in four Kenyans (25 per cent) describe their personal living conditions as “fairly good” or “very good”, a 16 per cent decline compared to 2019 (41 per cent),” said the firm.

The survey shows that many Kenyans have either gone or know someone who has gone many times without income, enough food, water and cooking fuel.

“Substantial proportions of the population frequently went without a cash income (47 per cent), medical care (26 per cent), enough clean water (22 per cent) and enough food (18 per cent),” said Afrobarometer.

The study shows about 37 per cent of Kenyans are experiencing moderate levels of poverty, 36 per cent are in low lived poverty and one in five (22 per cent) are falling into high lived poverty.

It shows most Kenyans believe the government is performing “fairly badly” or “very badly” in managing the economy (83 per cent), improving the living standards of the poor (83 per cent), creating jobs (85 per cent), narrowing income gaps (90 per cent) and keeping prices stable (92 per cent).

Growing agony

The study findings are in sync with the results of other surveys conducted by both private and public sector think-tanks on the status of the country’s economy, reflecting the growing agony of Kenyans as they struggle to keep up with the high cost of living amid stagnant or falling incomes.

The findings come after a report launched by the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (Kippra) last month gave deep insights into the plight of Kenyans during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Kenya Economic Report 2021 by Kippra showed that while only 6.6 per cent of Kenyans could afford to pay house rent at all before the outbreak of the pandemic, this number has jumped more than five times to 37.5 per cent during the pandemic.

Kippra is a critical public policy think-tank domiciled at the National Treasury under the State Department of Planning.

The report showed that 6.2 million Kenyans have fallen into poverty amid mass job losses and salary cuts that have left households struggling to pay for basic needs such as shelter and food.

“Before the Covid-19 pandemic, about 45.8 per cent of households paid rent on the date agreed upon with the landlord. Following the emergence of the pandemic, about 30.8 per cent of households paid rent on time and 37.5 per cent were unable to pay house rent," said the report.