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Workers sinking further into povery in Africa - UN report

Having a job does not guarantee a decent living. In fact, eight per cent of employed workers and their families worldwide lived in extreme poverty in 2018

In Summary

• In sub-Saharan Africa, where the share of working poor stood at 38 per cent in 2018 from 45 per cent in 2010.

• Finding in the latest report illuminates the World Poverty Clock report ranked Kenya eighth globally and sixth in Africa among countries with the largest number of people living in extreme poverty.

Road construction workers at work on Banana Ndenderu road. Photo/FILE
Road construction workers at work on Banana Ndenderu road. Photo/FILE

Kenya is among developing countries in Africa where more than a third of employed people are extremely poor, the Sustainable Development Goals Report 2019 has revealed.

According to the annual report, substandard working conditions are the main issue; underscoring the central role that decent and productive employment plays in helping people escape poverty.

‘’Having a job does not guarantee a decent living. In fact, eight per cent of employed workers and their families worldwide lived in extreme poverty in 2018, despite a rapid decline poverty rate over the past 25 years,’’ the UN report said.

According to the report, the situation remains particularly alarming in sub-Saharan Africa, where the share of working poor stood at 38 per cent in 2018 from 45 per cent in 2010.

Progress in reducing working poverty has slowed over the past five years, suggesting that efforts in this area need to be reinvigorated.

Finding in the latest report illuminates the World Poverty Clock report ranked Kenya eighth globally and sixth in Africa among countries with the largest number of people living in extreme poverty.

According to the poverty index, 29 per cent (14.7 million) of the 49,684,304 people were very poor as they consumed less than $1.90 (Sh197) per day or Sh5, 910 monthly.

The report by UN, which cast doubts on, the world’s ambitions to lower poverty rate by 2030 is also speaking to the 2019 Finacess Household Survey released by Central Bank of Kenya in April that showed 52 per cent of Kenyan households is living hand to mouth.

According to the banking regulator, the high cost of living amid stagnated wages has seen households turn to borrow to finance their living.

In September 2015, UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), poverty eradication at the top to the list.

Building on the principle of “leaving no one behind”, the agenda emphasizes a holistic approach to achieving sustainable development for all.

More than one billion people have lifted themselves out of poverty over the past 25 years with most of the progress recorded in Eastern Asia, where the poverty rate fell from 52 per cent in 1990 to 10 per cent in 2010 to less than 1 per cent in 2015.

In the latest report, Eastern Asia’s work poverty rate dropped from 11 per cent in 2010 to 1.7 percent while that of Central and Southern Asia halved from 24 per cent to 12 per cent.

Even so, in the least at developed and landlocked developing countries, at least one-quarter of workers live in extreme poverty despite having a job.

Employed young people (between 15 and 24 years of age) are more likely to be living in poverty, with a working poverty rate that is double that of adult workers.

Furthermore, the report has cautioned that without significant shifts in policy, extreme poverty will still be in the double digits in sub-Saharan Africa by 2030.