A million Kenyans escape poverty


Kakiteitei village in Turkana East benefit from relief food from the Kenya Red Cross. PHOTO | SAMMY LUTA | NMG

Slightly over a million Kenyans escaped from poverty in 2021 as the economy recovered from the ravages the Covid-19 pandemic that had rendered many workers jobless.

A new report on poverty by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows that there were 19.1 million Kenyans who lived below the poverty line in 2021, a drop from 20.9 million in 2020, pointing to a recovery of the economy.

This means that 38.6 percent of citizens live below the poverty line, whose total consumption per adult is less than Sh3,947 per month in rural areas and less than Sh7,193 per month in urban regions.

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“In 2021, the overall poverty rate was 38.6 percent compared to 36.1 percent in 2015/16. However, this is a reduction compared to poverty rate of 42.9 percent in 2020. This indicates that 19.1 million individuals were poor in 2021,” said the Cabinet Secretary for National Treasury, Professor Njuguna Ndung’u, Thursday.

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Although the recovery of the economy saw those who lost jobs in 2020 return to gainful employment, the real wages, adjusted for inflation, will take longer to recover, analysts say.

Rural poverty

According to the survey by KNBS, most poor people are in rural areas at 13.7 million compared to 5.4 persons living below the poverty line in urban areas such as Nairobi and Mombasa.

Around 15.1 million Kenyans cannot afford to put food on the table, with the 2021 poverty rates showing that a third of Kenyan households are food poor.

A person is considered food poor if their consumption is less than Sh2,331 per month in rural areas and Sh2,905 per month in urban areas.

Also read: Why poor Kenyans, elderly miss out on welfare stipends

President William Ruto’s administration, which took the reins in September last year, pledged to alleviate poverty through job creation.

Through its Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA), the Kenya Kwanza government said it would boost food security by investing in large-scale irrigation and availing cheap fertiliser to farmers to reduce the cost of production.

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