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Kenya is one of the most unequal countries in the sub- Sahara region. Forty two percent of its population of 44 million lives below the poverty line.
Access to basic quality services such as health care, education, clean water and sanitation, is often a luxury for many people. Large segments of the population, including the burgeoning urban poor, are highly vulnerable to climatic, economic and social shocks.
In 2010, Kenya enacted a new Constitution that specifically addresses longstanding historical, geographic, demographic and human rights violations that have hindered progressive development.Three years later Kenyans conducted fairly peaceful elections to vote in the National and County Government with expectations for equitable resource allocation and accountable service delivery. For UNICEF Kenya, this ultimately translates into the realization of all children’s rights regardless of their social or economic status.
The proportion of Kenyans living on less than the international poverty line (US$1.90 per day in 2011 PPP) has declined from 43.6% in 2005- 06 to 35.6% in 2015- 16
Poverty incidence in Kenya is lowest in East Africa and is lower than the Sub- Saharan African regional average. poverty rates in Kenya remain relatively high compared to other lower middle income countries.
Kenya’s income levels and poverty rate, human development indicators are relatively high. Kenya performs better on non monetary dimensions of poverty.
The agricultural sector was a key driver of poverty reduction in the past decade.
Kenya has registered growth domestic product (GDP) growth rates above 5% for most of the past decade. However the transmission of that growth into increased consumption at household level remains low or GDP growth would have translated into even higher poverty reduction.
“At the current pace of poverty reduction, about one percentage point per year, Kenya cannot eradicate poverty by 2030,” says Utz Pape, World Bank poverty economist .“Accelerating the pace of poverty reduction in Kenya will require higher and more inclusive growth rates coupled with a sharper focus on poverty reduction policies.”
The KEU also notes that the profile of poverty in Kenya has a significant spatial dimension that is omitted in the international comparison. Most of Kenya’s poor live in rural areas predominantly in the northeastern parts of the country. This spatial dimension persists, and possibly exacerbated inequality across regions in Kenya. Scaling up and geographic targeting of anti poverty and social protection programs are important instruments to target the neediest households and reduce regional disparities, according to the economic update.
Kenyans enjoy improved access to sanitation while access to improved water remains low. Almost 72% of Kenyan house holds have access to improved water sources. However, Kenya performs better in access to improved sanitation when compared to countries with similar international poverty head count rates.
Kenya’s literacy rate is highest in SSA, and it has increased further by 11% since 2005, reflecting the massive progress made in Kenya’s educational system over the past decade. In 2015, 84% of the population above 14 years could read and write compared to Ghana at 71%.
More than half of Kenyan adults above 24 years (almost 58%) have completed primary education, a notable increase from an estimated 44% in 2005. However, the report also high lights that while just over 14% of adults aged 25 and older have completed secondary school, up from 3% in 2005, this falls below other countries with comparable poverty rates. That notwithstanding, net school enrollment ratios have improved in the last decade with a primary school enrollment ratio of about 87%, but secondary school completion presents a significant barrier.
Kenya has been ranked eighth globally and sixth in Africa among countries with the largest number of people living in extreme poverty.
The report says that 29 per cent (14.7 million) of the 49,684,304 people are very poor as they consume less than $1.90 (Sh197) per day. With poverty escape rate of 0.5 people per minute.
UN’s SDGs aim at reducing the number of people living in extreme poverty by 2030.
On the positive side, however, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund consider Kenya on the right path to economic growth. This is due to investments in Kenya’s infrastructure, and the country’s role as a regional business hub.
Longstanding corruption within Kenya’s government such as bribery, fraud, and tribal favoritism is one of the leading causes of continuing poverty in Kenya.
Kenya is and remains poor is that about 75 percent of the population relies on agriculture to make a living. Yet Kenya’s erratic weather and arid climate make it a very unstable living to rely on. Jobs outside the agriculture industry are rare, and the education required for such jobs is even rarer, especially for poor families.
On the other hand, the flower industry in Kenya is flourishing especially with exports to European countries, along with coffee and tea farming. Another industry currently on the rise in Kenya is the tourism industry. The government recently introduced free and mandatory education.
There is need to develop the rural non farm sector around agriculture. There is need to focus on skill development through technical training to take up opportunities in value addition.