What you need to know:
- Female-headed households had relatively higher poverty rates compared to their male counterparts.
- To reverse the inequalities, the report suggested a shift in the distribution of incomes that favour poorer people and strengthening of labour markets.
The counties of Turkana, Mandera, Samburu, Garissa, Busia and West Pokot are some of the poorest in the country, with majority of residents starving due to an inability to pay for basic food commodities.
The residents of these regions live on less than Sh3,252 monthly, translating to below Sh100 every day for food and basic commodities, according to the latest data by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.
Nationally, the overall rate of poverty declined by about 10 per cent in the 10 year period that the report covered, a drop similar to that of other African countries and which has been attributed to significant investments made in maternal and child healthcare, improved living standards and higher enrolments in schools.
But while good progress has been made by the government, donor and development partners as well as other agencies in improving the economic conditions of citizens, the burden of the poor is still significant.
About one in every three individuals in Kenya is unable to consume the minimum daily calorific requirement of 2,250 Kcal as per their expenditure on food, says the Kenya Integrated Household Budget Survey report for the year 2015/16, which was released today.
The proportion of poor children is larger than that of adults and more in rural than in urban areas, showing that poverty appears to be predominantly a rural phenomenon.
In the six worst hit counties for instance, more than one third of the total population live in conditions of extreme poverty, meaning that they cannot afford the minimum food consumption basket.
The concentrations are also found in the counties of Kajiado, Kitui and Uasin Gishu.
“Turkana County had its figures at 52.7 per cent, Samburu (42.2 per cent), Mandera (38.9 per cent), Busia (26.8 per cent), West Pokot (26.3 per cent) and Marsabit at 23.8 per cent,” Mr Zachary Mwangi, the bureau director-general said in Nairobi.
These percentages, when broken down in actual numbers, indicated that on overall, about 16.4 million Kenyans live in poverty across the country.
A further breakdown of the figures indicate that poverty remains highest in rural areas where 11.4 million are poor compared to 900,000 and 3.8 million in peri-urban and core-urban areas respectively.
“About 3.9 million Kenyans live in conditions of abject poverty and are unable to afford the minimum required food consumption basket even if they allocated all their expenditure on food alone,” Mr Mwangi said.
“The extreme poverty incidences remain high in rural areas where 3.2 million individuals were hardcore poor.
"The results further showed that six per cent of households were extremely poor,” he added.
Female-headed households had relatively higher poverty rates compared to their male counterparts while households in polygamous unions are relatively poorer than those in monogamous unions, the report says.
The prices of basic food commodities like sugar, rice, maize, bread, wheat flour and dry beans also doubled, and in some instances tripled as a result of prolonged droughts and increase in fuel prices.
However, prices of kerosene and petrol rose by only 10 per cent over the same period mainly due to the decline in the international oil prices that started in 2014 through to 2016.
“The prices of the commodities doubled during the period except those of 2kg wheat flour, which increased by 30 per cent,” the report adds.
“The prices of dry beans and rice grade II recorded the highest growths, rising by more than three times during the reference period.”
On the flipside, the country experienced improved economic growth in the period under study, from a figure of three per cent to about 5.2 per cent.
The growth was attributed to private consumption due to increase in the number of disposable income, improved access to credit facilities, the stabilization of the shilling against other major currencies as well as robust manufacturing and production companies.
Private investments were also a contributor to the improved economic outlook of the country, the report notes.
“The recovery of growth in the global arena also supported domestic growth during the period as external demand for local goods and services increased.
"The establishment of county governments also imparted positively on economic growth as public consumption expenditure rose.”
Devolution was also hailed as the biggest contributor to the country’s growth as it opened up the once marginalised parts of the country as well as improved healthcare system and agricultural services, both of which are devolved.
And to reverse the inequalities, the report suggested a shift in the distribution of incomes that favour poorer people, strengthening of labour markets and increased access to healthcare, education, water and sanitation.