Cost of living big worry for Kenyans - Tifa poll

Kisumu residents take to the streets to protest against the rising cost of living

Kisumu residents take to the streets to protest against the rising cost of living on March 15, 2023. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Nearly half of Kenyans drawn from both sides of the political divide identify the high cost of living experienced in the country as one of the biggest problems that should be urgently addressed by the administration of President William Ruto, a new opinion poll has shown.

The poll released by Trends and Insights for Africa (Tifa) shows 48 per cent of Kenya Kwanza Alliance supporters and 48 per cent of those who back Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party identified the high cost of living as their major concern.

At least one in five Kenyans (17 per cent) report that they have slept hungry or one of their family members has slept without eating.

This condition affects 20 per cent of Azimio supporters, with 14 per cent of President Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza supporters saying they fall in this category.

Kenyans living in the South Rift, the President’s stronghold, had the highest number of people (62 per cent) that saw the skyrocketing cost of living as a big concern.

This was followed by Western (61 per cent), Coast (58 per cent), Nairobi (53 per cent), Azimio leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard (48 per cent), Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua’s Mt Kenya region (42 per cent), and northern Kenya (36 per cent).

“For the country as a whole and across the current political divide, there are hardly any contrasts in terms of what is identified as the main problems people are facing in their local areas, with the high cost of living, hunger/drought and unemployment being by far the most frequently mentioned,” the report said.

Dismal performance

The report released more than 100 days after President Ruto took office also gives the government a dismal performance in addressing major issues such as the high cost of living.

Thirty-seven per cent of Kenyans also ranked increased economic hardship as the biggest failure of the government. Over half (54 per cent) of Azimio supporters failed to give the government credit for performance while one quarter (23 per cent) of the Kenya Kwanza supporters failed to give the new administration any credit for performance.

According to Tifa lead researcher Dr Tom Wolf, delivering on the campaign promises by the new administration led by President Ruto has been difficult.

“It has become increasingly clear to most Kenyans that making quick and tangible improvements to the dire economic situation inherited from the previous regime has not been as forthcoming as many had thought, or at least hoped.”

“That is, making campaign promises is one thing, but actually delivering on them is another,” Dr Wolf said.

Dr Wolf added that the lack of fulfilment of the promises made by President Ruto is likely to affect his popularity ratings.

“Given the above realities, it has become clear that the success of Kenya Kwanza’s largely issue-based pre-election campaign has become a major challenge to its continued popularity, given the difficulties it (or whoever had won the election) now faces in making such campaign promises a reality, at least in the short term,” he added.

Over the next five years, 71 per cent of the respondents said, President Ruto should focus on addressing the high cost of living while 49 per cent said he should address job creation for the high number of unemployed people in the country.

The research was conducted through face-to-face interviews between March 11 and 19. It involved 2,065 respondents who were selected randomly.