Nairobi and Central Kenya counties dominate the list of richest counties in state statistics that have exposed disparities in wealth among the devolved units.
Nairobi has the lowest share of poor people with 17 persons in every 100 living in poverty, followed by Nyeri and Meru with 19 each, Kirinyaga (22) and Narok (23).
In Kiambu and Machakos 23 in every 100 residents are classified as poor, while Tharaka-Nithi, Murang’a and Mombasa close the top ten rich list with 24,25 and 27 persons in 100 struggling to survive respectively.
Turkana is classified as the poorest county in the 2016 survey with more than 79 in every 100 of its population living in poverty, followed by Mandera (78), Samburu (76), Busia (69) and Garissa (66).
Marsabit, Wajir, Tana River, West Pokot and Isiolo counties also form the 10 poorest counties with 63.7,62.6, 62.2, 57.4 and 51.9 per cent of residents struggling to meet basic needs.
The report by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) defines households living in poverty as those earning below Sh3,252 a month in rural and peri-urban areas and Sh5,995 in major urban centres.
Poverty levels in 23 counties are above the national average, underlining the serious differentials in livelihoods.
Kenya ushered in devolution in 2013 to bridge the uneven distribution of wealth that the centralised system of governance entrenched. Countrywide, 36.1 per cent of the country’s population of 45.4 million lives in poverty, an improvement from 46.6 per cent in 2006.
This means 16.4 million lived in poverty in the year ended June 2016, a modest drop from 16.6 million persons 10 years earlier.
“The overall national poverty headcount rate (proportion of poor individuals) dropped from 46.6 per cent in 2005/06 to 36.1 per cent in 2015/16,” the KNBS survey based on feedback from 24,000 households established.
From the data, it emerges that the country’s resources are largely in the hands of a few rich people, a majority of them in the urban areas.
Despite being the richest, Nairobi also hosts the second biggest population of the poor in the country, with 745,000 or 4.5 per cent of 16.4 million poor Kenyans residing in the capital.
Turkana’s poor population of 860,000 persons is the largest in Kenya.
About 3.9 million of Kenyans do not earn income to buy them basic food, with 84 per cent of this group, technically referred to as extreme or hardcore poor, in rural areas.
Those whose monthly budgets for food stood at below Sh1,954 in rural areas and Sh2,551 in urban areas, thus deemed food poor, declined from 16.3 million in 2005/06 to 14.5 million in 2015/16.