Most Kenyans down to basic needs as Covid impact bites – survey

Three out of four Kenyans have cut spending on non-essential items.

In Summary

Of the those experiencing reduced earnings, 35 per cent say their income has decreased a lot.

•Only 17 Per cent of respondents in Kenya are extremely optimistic about their financial situation improving, the survey indicates.

Vegetable traders in Ainakboi.
Vegetable traders in Ainakboi.
Image: FILE

Approximately three out of four Kenyans have cut down on non-essential spending compared to three months ago, a survey by research firm–GeoPoll indicates.

This is occasioned by reduced earnings where 70 per cent of those surveyed reported decreased incomes. Of these, 35 per cent say their income has “decreased a lot”.

This reflects the current situation mainly in the private sectors where some workers have taken a pay cut of up to 40 per cent since last year.

Renewed government restrictions due to yet another resurgence of the virus in Kenya has had a severe economic impact, the report released yesterday indicates, with businesses struggling to breakeven.

The 'Ongoing Impacts of Covid-19 across Africa, Latin America and Asia' survey was conducted using GeoPoll’s mobile web platform in early July 2021 in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania, Egypt, Brazil, Colombia, and China.

The sample size was approximately 400 respondents per country and 3,600 in total, which provides a five per cent margin of error and a 95 per cent confidence interval.

“Increases in spending on non-essential items are primarily attributed to increases in prices (71 per cent). Nigeria comes in the highest at 84 per cent, reflecting its issues with inflation. Ghana and Kenya are close behind at 82 per cent and 80 per cent, respectively,” GeoPoll says in its report.

The cost of living in Kenya hit an 18-month high in August on a steep increase in food prices, cooking gas and kerosene, an indicator why Kenyans are bypassing non-essential items.

The monthly Consumer Price Index released Tuesday by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows inflation rose to 6.57 per cent compared to 6.55 per cent in July. 

"This was mainly driven by a 10.65 per cent rise in food and non-alcoholic products,  transport 7.63 per cent, housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuel commodities of 5.07 per cent,'' KNBS said.

Only 17 Per cent of respondents in Kenya are extremely optimistic about their financial situation improving, the survey indicates.

The percentage of respondents that are not at all optimistic ranges from five in China to 20 per cent in Kenya.

Facing a third or fourth wave of the pandemic with limited access to vaccines has 60 per cent of respondents in South Africa and 49 per cent in Kenya feeling more or much more concerned about Covid-19, than they were three months ago, the survey indicates.

“However, despite the stresses of dealing with the pandemic, 55 per cent across countries claim their emotional health is better or much better than it was in April 2021,” Geopoll notes.

The 49 per cent of Kenyans concerned about the pandemic is however down from 64 per cent of respondents in a similar study in April this year.

The pandemic has since last year exerted immense pressure on the world’s emerging markets including Kenya, creating economic concerns that rival the health concerns.

With a third or fourth wave of the virus gripping many countries, it is becoming increasingly difficult for governments to get a handle on either of those challenges, GeoPoll notes.