KNBS REPORT

Poor Nairobians spend more on alcohol than the rich

Contrary to the common belief that the poor man lives on sukuma wiki and black tea, statistics say he spends most of his money on beef, bread and milk

In Summary

• Low-income earners in Nairobi have a monthly income of Sh23,671 and below.

• Those in the middle-income category earn between Sh23,671 and Sh120,000, while the high-income earners take home more than Sh120,000 a month.

Poor Nairobians spend more of their income on food, alcohol and cigarettes than the rich.

In fact, contrary to a common belief that the poor man lives on sukuma wiki (collard greens) and 'strungi' (black tea), statistics from the past decade indicate that the lowest income earners spend most of their money on beef, bread and milk.

According to data by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) collected from 2009, the poor in Nairobi spend about Sh425 of every Sh1,000 they earn on food and alcohol. The sum is above the average of Sh360 spent nationally on the same items.

Nairobians in the middle class spend Sh220 of Sh1,000, while those in the upper class spend only Sh69 of every Sh1,000 on the same items.

Data from the national statistician show the poor, or low-income earners, have a monthly income of Sh23,671 and below. Those in the middle-income category earn between Sh23,671 and Sh120,000, while the high-income earners take home more than Sh120,000 a month.

Does the poor man wine and dine to drown their sorrows and get days to pass by? That could be the case. What is clear though is that the poor Nairobian loves his bottle and dares to spend a higher percentage of his income to keep high, compared to the upper-class person who barely spends on alcohol.

For every Sh1,000 that he gets, he spends Sh158 on either spirit, beer or muratina/busaa. The middle-class person uses Sh140 on alcohol, while those in the upper class spend Sh135 of Sh1,000 on alcohol, though mostly beer and wine.

The poor city dweller spends significantly on foods such as beef with bones, bread, milk and sugar, maize flour, tomatoes, cooking fat, potatoes and food from 'vibanda' (informal eateries or retail stalls).

Regarding the type of food, low earners spend the most on beef at 4.4 per cent of their income. Beef retails at an average cost of Sh439 per kg. They spend 3.7 per cent of their salary on milk, which is sold at average Sh52 per for half a litre packet. Bread takes 2.5 per cent of their money and maize flour (2.2 per cent). Sugar is at two per cent and kerosene 4.1.

Leah Akinyi says she would rather eat in a kibanda than go back home to cook. She lives in DC area, Kibra, and works as a cleaner in a store at Adams Arcade. 

"I leave my children with Sh10 each for chips or chapati supu (chapati with soup) for lunch. I also eat at a kibanda or skip lunch. It would be very expensive to take a matatu back home to cook and get back," she explained.

She said none of her colleagues goes home for lunch. Some who are paid commission would rather strain during lunch hour to get every possible coin, while others carry packed food.

The low earners spend at least Sh190 on rent, electricity, kerosene, and house maintenance, while those in the upper class spend Sh204 on the same but mostly use gas instead of kerosene. The middle-class individuals take the medal with Sh241 on those items.

The rich in Nairobi mostly spend on their cars (13 per cent) through insurance, fuel, service and parking. They also spend significantly on education and health where those in the low class barely spend.