POVERTY

80% of households in Turkana can't afford basic needs — KNBS

Moreover, inequality is greater in urban areas than in the grassroots.

In Summary
  • Overall, the level of inequality has shrunk over the 20-year period having started out at a worse score of 0.46.
  • Turkana also recorded the highest inequality rate in the country with a Gini index score of 0.559
Women return home after fetching firewood.
EXTREME POVERTY: Women return home after fetching firewood.
Image: COURTESY

At least eight in 10 people in Turkana live in absolute poverty, a report by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics on inequality shows. 

Titled Inequality Trends and Diagnostics, the two-decade-long survey undertaken by various stakeholders further shows a wide gap between the rich and the poor. 

It says the absolute poverty rate in the county is 79.4 per cent, more than double Kenya's average of 35 per cent. 

The 2020 Comprehensive Poverty Report by the KNBS indicated that 15.9 million of 44.2 million Kenyans are poor, with an adult earning less than Sh3,252 monthly in rural areas and Sh5,995 in urban areas.

The latest report analyses previous surveys that cut across a 20-year period between 1994 and 2016.

Turkana also recorded the highest inequality rate in the country with a Gini index score of 0.559. Even so, there is no correlation between poverty and inequality. 

Mandera, Samburu, Busia, and Garissa rank among the other top five poor counties with an absolute poverty rate of 77.6, 75.8, 69.3, and 65.5 per cent respectively.

Nairobi, Nyeri, Meru, Kirinyaga, Kiambu, and Machakos rank as the least poor, having absolute poverty rates of 16.8, 19.3, 19.4, 20, and 23.3 per cent respectively.

The five have a generally low level of inequality below the national Gini ratio of 0.404.

Overall the level of inequality has shrunk over the 20-year period, having started out at a worse score of 0.46.

Other indices, including Theil, Atkinson, and the Palma ratio, all show a decline in inequality levels over the same period.

The level of inequality is higher among the non-poor than it is among the poor. It is also higher among households whose heads have a higher level of education.

Moreover, inequality is greater in urban areas than in rural areas.

Thirty-five of 47 counties have registered a decline in inequality, while 12 have seen a metric increase. Nairobi has cut its levels of inequality the most during the two-decade period.

Wajir is the least unequal county with a Gini coefficient score of 0.272 ahead of Mombasa, Bomet, Homa Bay, and Vihiga.

Gender inequality gaps narrowed, but remain high in rural populations, in higher education, and in civic engagements.

A larger decline in inequality was recorded for male-headed households than for female-headed ones, and in urban than in rural areas.