TOUGH TIMES

Food prices, lack of rent and debts hit households as Covid-19 bites

14.8% taken loans from friends and relatives to survive.

In Summary

•At least 41.9 per cent of households had cut financial spending on commodities they could do without while 14.8 took loans from friends and relatives to survive.

7•8.8 per cent of responds said food prices have increased, with only 2.8 per cent reporting a drop.

Customers shopping for essential commodities in a Naivas Supermarket./FILE
Supermarket Customers shopping for essential commodities in a Naivas Supermarket./FILE
Image: Reuters

High food prices in the past month has greatly affected households as the coronavirus menace continues to take a toll on earnings.

Most breadwinners have either lost jobs, taken a pay cut, or are on unpaid leave. Those in business have either closed or are witnessing reduced sales.

In the latest survey by the National Treasury dubbed 'Social economic impact of Covid-19 on households Wave 2, conducted in May, 78.8 per cent of respondents said food prices have increased, with only 2.8 per cent reporting a drop.

 

Although the survey did not delve into actual prices of some of basic food commodities during the period under review, May 30 to June 6, findings are in tandem  with the end of May inflation data.

Despite inflation easing in May to 5.47 per cent compared to 5.62 per cent April, prices for basic foods like kale (sukuma wiki), maize flour and beans rose.

A kilo of sukuma wiki retailed at an average Sh50.86 up from Sh49.88 in April while a kilo of beans went up by Sh2 from Sh119.89 the previous month. Spinach equally went up to Sh58.63 compared to Sh57.34 last month.

Prices started easing in the second week of June as the global economy slowly opened after months of containment measures against the spread of Covid-19 , leading to a general drop in June inflation to 4.59 per cent, the  lowest since January.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) which measures the percentage change in the price of a basket of goods and services consumed by households, decreased by 0.31 per cent.

Speaking while launching the monthly report, National Treasury Cabinet secretary Ukur Yatani expressed confidence that the cost of leaving would ease in the coming months after President Uhuru Kenyatta lifted the cessation of movement into and out of Nairobi, Mombasa and Mandera.

''There is hope at the end of the tunnel if we maintain self-discipline in observing Covid-19 safety measures,'' Yatani said.

 

The report demonstrated increased domestic hardship compared to the first wave of Covid-19, with 37 per cent of households unable to pay rent.

According to the survey, 61 per cent of those who did not pay rent for May attributed it to the reduced income which affected different companies while 25.7 per cent cited layoffs.

It also shows that a paltry 0.7 per cent of households in rented dwellings had received waiver or relief from landlords on rent for May while six per cent had received a partial waiver.

Majority of workers at 77.9 per cent are not sure when they will report back their place of work. Only 48.5 per cent of self employed individuals were proceeding with their activities while 35 per cent of paid employees were reporting to work.

According to the study, 41.9 per cent of households had cut financial spending on commodities they could do without while 14.8 per cent took loans from friends and relatives to survive.