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Economy

Kenya 8th on extreme poverty list

A woman and her children await food
A woman and her children await food rations in Turkana on March 21, 2017. FILE PHOTO | NMG  

Kenya has been ranked eighth globally and sixth in Africa among countries with the largest number of people living in extreme poverty, according to the World Poverty Clock report.

The report says that 29 per cent (14.7 million) of the 49,684,304 people are very poor as they consume less than $1.90 (Sh197) per day or Sh5,910 monthly.

With a poverty escape rate of 0.5 people per minute, the drive to achieve the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is at risk.

UN’s SDGs aim at reducing the number of people living in extreme poverty by 2030.

According to the report, Turkana has the largest number of people living below the poverty line with 87.4 per cent (756,306) and a poverty escape rate of -1.1 people/hour.

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Bungoma has the second largest population with 33.4 per cent of 2.2 million people (726,012 people) wallowing in poverty.

Poverty rates are also high in Wajir (76 per cent), Narok 49 per cent, Kwale 41.3 per cent, Kilifi (39.1 per cent), and Busia (33.5 per cent).

The Vienna-based World Poverty Clock last year said that about 11 million Kenyans were living in poverty.

It means that the number of poor people in the country increased by over three million from last year when the economy grew by 4.9 per cent from 5.9 per cent in 2016 in the face of electoral uncertainty and drought, which hit the farming and manufacturing sectors hard.

Official data shows that the proportion of Kenyans living in poverty has fallen by 10.5 percentage points in a decade to 36.1 per cent.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) attributes the drop to economic expansion and devolution of resources to local authorities.

Kenya’s economy grew an average 5.2 per cent a year between 2006 and 2016.

This helped lower the proportion of those living below the poverty line, defined as monthly consumption of less than Sh3,252, to 36.1 per cent in 2015/16 from 46.6 per cent in 2005/6. But the World Poverty Clock defines those on a monthly consumption of less than Sh5,910 as poor.

There were 16.4 million people below the poverty line at the time of the KNBS survey in 2016, down from 16.6 million a decade earlier - when the population was 10 million people lower.

Nigeria has now overtaken India as the world's poverty capital as 86.9 million people are currently living in extreme poverty.

India has about 71.5 million people living in poverty, according to the researchers.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is third with 60.9 million people living below the poverty line. Ethiopia and Tanzania follow DRC with 23.9 million and 19.9 million people live in extreme poverty.

Also ahead of Kenya is Mozambique (17.8 million people) and Bangladesh (17 million people). Indonesia (14.2 million) and Uganda (14.2 million) people close the top 10 list of countries with the largest population of poor people.

Also on the top 10 list of African countries with extreme poverty are South Africa (13.8 million), South Sudan (11.4 million) and Zambia (9.5 million).

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