Living standards in Kenya improve: Study


From left: Environment principal secretary Richard Lesiyampe, Unep’s Africa representative Mounkaila Goumandakoye, UN resident co-ordinator Nardos Bekele Thomas and Planning secretary Anne Waiguru go through the Kenya National Human Development Report during its launch May 6, 2014. The study says living standards have improved in the past two years. Photo/Anthony Omuya


  • The index is higher than the average for sub Saharan Africa which is at 0.475
  • UNDP warns that there are challenges that must be tackled to sustain socio economic development
  • The living standard in Nairobi County has improved

Living standards in Kenya have improved in the last two years, according to the latest human development study conducted by the United Nations Development Programme and the Kenya government.

The findings of the study contained in the latest Kenyan National Human Development Report (KNHDR) 2013 shows the country’s Human Development Index (HDI) improved from 0.509 in 2012 to 0.522 last year.

The index is higher than the average for sub-Saharan Africa which is at 0.475.

HDI is a tool developed by United Nations that measures a particular countries socio-economic development status. It uses indicators like life expectancy, literacy levels and income per capita among others.

Though the country registered some improvements, UNDP warns that there are challenges that must be tackled to sustain socio economic development.

The challenges ranges from poverty which is still widespread leading to food insecurity and malnutrition in many areas of the country as well as lack of access to healthcare and education in northern Kenya.

The living standard in Nairobi County has also improved and stands at 0.641, followed by Kajiado with 0.591 and Mombasa 0.548 while Turkana is worst at 0.24.

The study also notes that in 47 counties in-depth analysis indicates that 20 of them have HDI estimates above the national estimate, while 27 have measures lower than the national average.

The findings also show if untimely dealt with, climate change could hinder the efforts the country has made so far towards the achievement of human development.

The study cites the frequency of droughts now averages every two to three years compared to a five to seven year cycles in the past.

The findings of the study indicate that the poor and women are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change and is already having huge adverse impacts on the lives of people and ecosystems relative to all the sectors analysed.

UNDP economic advisor Wilmot Revees said that Kenya contributes marginally to the climate change problem.

However, he said Kenyans are of the most vulnerable to climate change, with 90 per cent of natural disasters in the country mainly attributed to droughts and floods.

National policy

According to the study, 17 per cent of Mombasa could be submerged with a sea-level rise of only 0.3 metres but lauds Kenya’s response to climate change due to formulation of requisite policies and strategies.

The study has recommended the formulation of a national policy on climate change and enactment of a climate change law as well as adoption of an Integrated Policymaking process and Integrating and mainstreaming climate change adaptation into core development policies, strategies, and plans.

The Kenya government has also been urged to develop human and institutional capacities in all aspects of climate change research, response, and planning at national and local levels.

“Strengthening of multi-stakeholder processes in order to include all actors in decision-making; collaboration among all relevant stakeholders is needed,” recommends the study.

Devolution and Planning Cabinet Secretary Ann Waiguru while launching the study in Nairobi observed that the economic sectors such as agriculture and tourism are suffering significant losses from uncertain weather patterns, with direct consequences on the well-being of the population.

Ms Waiguru also said that health challenges are being exacerbated by the effects of rising temperatures on the incidence of certain diseases, such as malaria.

“Access to water, energy and basic conditions for human developments is seriously threatened by the progressive depletion of ecosystems, as well as the impacts of extreme weather on delivery infrastructure,” she said.

She said that Kenya is actively implementing strategies to respond to current and projected climatic changes.

Ms Nardos Bekele-Thomas UNDP Resident representative said there is need for concerted efforts to roll back the effects of climate change.

“We want to commit our financial and technical assistance to work with the government of Kenya and its people to dealing with climate change,” said Ms Thomas.

Cabinet secretary for Environment and natural resources Prof Judy Wakhungu said the government was committed in developing policy framework to support Kenyans in addressing climate change.

“We have already a Bill in Parliament and we hope it will be passed as soon as possible,” said Prof Wakhungu.