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Economy

8m Kenyans trapped in extreme poverty, says UN agency

Poverty
Poverty elimination has been among the key commitments made by successive regimes since Independence. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Kenya is underperforming in its poverty reduction efforts with the 2030 aim to end extreme poverty remaining off target, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa has said.

The country’s current one-person-per-minute rate of escape from extreme poverty falls below the target rate of 1.4 by close to 30 percent, leaving some 7.97 million Kenya still living in extreme poverty as at March 2020.

The extreme poor reduced by about 510,000 from a similar period last year and about 2.7 million Kenyans are still likely to be extremely poor by 2030 when the UN set the target date to wipe out extreme poverty.

Poverty elimination has been among the key commitments made by successive regimes since Independence but remains a moving target with increasing population and economic headwinds.

Only Zimbabwe whose current escape rate is three people per minute against its target of 11.4 per minute, Mauritania where the escape rate of 1.8 exceeds the target 1.4 and Gambia where the rate remains 1.7 against the targeted 1.8 are on track to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030 according to the report.

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Poverty on the other hand is still on the rise in South Africa with more people sliding into the bracket of the extremely poor.

The continent is, however, facing shocks, including the current Covid-19 pandemic which is likely to hit economies hard.

“As a safety net, these countries should provide incentives for food importers to quickly forward purchase to ensure sufficient food reserves in key basic foods and prepare fiscal stimulus packages, for example guaranteeing wages for those unable to work due to the crisis, favour consumption and investment and maintain infrastructure investments to protect jobs,” it said it is latest update on poverty reduction and effects of the coronavirus.

ECA says the pandemic is disrupting global supply chains — drop in value creation, slowing down investments and has hit tourism with oil exporters’ revenue losses likely to hit $65 billion.

Kenya defines extreme poor as households and individuals whose monthly adult equivalent total consumption expenditure per person is less than Sh1,954 in rural and peri-urban areas and less than Sh2,551 in core-urban areas.

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