A World Bank report indicating that Kenya has lifted 9.82 million people out of poverty in the past decade should be cause for celebration.
The bank notes that this has been the result of economic growth at 5.3 per cent on average between 2005 and 2016, above the 4.9 per cent average for sub-Saharan Africa.
The report says the growth has benefitted the rural populace more than it has the urban poor, having primarily been hinged on improved agricultural yields – due to reduced drought and higher amounts of rainfall.
This data, however, masks the fact that millions more still languish in abject poverty. It perhaps comes as no surprise that the report also shows that Kenya’s poverty rate is about twice the average for lower middle-income countries worldwide.
Notably, the gap between the poor and the wealthy has continued expanding in the years – with the good economic performance largely excluding the majority of citizens.
Kenya still has a lot to do to lift the majority of its citizens from debilitating poverty in spite of the economic growth.
Besides, that the economic performance rode on agricultural growth – rather than manufacturing or other sectors — is significant.
Given that agriculture in Kenya has historically been prone to the vagaries of the weather and poor markets, it could easily mean a reversal of fortunes in adverse climate.