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October 19, 2018

Growth in economy not felt by Kenya’s poor, says World Bank

An aerial photograph shows the rusted iron-sheet roofing in the sprawling Kibera slum, one of the largest and poorest slums in Africa and home to about 1 million people, in Kenya's capital Nairobi October 30, 2012. REUTERS.jpg
An aerial photograph shows the rusted iron-sheet roofing in the sprawling Kibera slum, one of the largest and poorest slums in Africa and home to about 1 million people, in Kenya's capital Nairobi October 30, 2012. REUTERS.jpg

Kenya’s economic growth is not trickling down to poor Kenyans, according to the World Bank.

 In a new report on gender and poverty, the bank says at least 17.3 million Kenyans still live below Sh92.4 per day.

 “The moderately robust GDP growth over the past decade has not generated consummate increases in household consumption,” the report released on Tuesday states.

 It says that each percentage point in GDP growth has been associated with a mere 0.57 per cent reduction in extreme poverty.

 As per the report, Kenya’s poverty elasticity is lowest in the region, meaning that the country’s percentage reduction in poverty rates associated with a percentage change in mean income is lower than that of Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda. 

It says despite the progress Kenya has made in reducing poverty and inequalities over the past decade, with the share of population living below poverty line reducing from 46.8 per cent in 2005/06 to 36.1 per cent in 2015/16, it will not realise sustainable goals to eradicate poverty by 2030. 

It indicates that while poverty and vulnerability rates have fallen substantially over the past decade, more than half of Kenya’s population remains vulnerable to falling into poverty in near term.

 Although vulnerability rate which correlates with poverty rate fell faster in rural areas than urban areas, the 57 per cent vulnerability in rural areas still exceeds that of urban areas which is at 43 per cent.

 North Eastern Kenya reported high absolute poverty rate of 50.6 per cent from 70 per cent in 2015 followed by former provinces of Western and Rift Valley at 42.5 and 41.4 per cent respectively. 

Nairobi has less absolutely poor people at 16.7 per cent down from 21.3 per cent followed by the former Central Province at 24.3 per cent. To eradicate extreme poverty by 2030, World Bank says Kenya’s annual poverty reduction must be at 6.1 per cent yet the country’s decade average is at just 1.6 per cent per year.

 ‘’If poverty reduction continues at its current pace, the extreme poverty rate will remain above 25 per cent in 2030,’’ said World Bank country director Felipe Jaramillo.

 He said Kenya needs faster and inclusive economic growth coupled with a sharper focus on targeted poverty reduction policies like expanded social welfare, improved agricultural production, sustainable infrastructure, education and health. 

The report notes that Kenyan women aged between 25 and 60 are more likely to live in poor households than men, an aspect attributed to bias in wealth distribution starting at the household level.

 Kenya’s female labour force penetration for instance during the decade under review stood at 71 per cent compared to men’s 77 per cent.

According to the report, a male wage worker earns 30 per cent higher that of their female counterparts. A man in Kenya for instance earns an average of Sh18,276 compared to Sh14,075 earned by female.

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