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Economy

World Bank pours cold water on Kenya’s war against poverty

Food distribution in Turkana County. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Food distribution in Turkana County. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

At least 16 million Kenyans could still be wallowing in poverty in the next 12 years, the World Bank has warned, casting doubt on the government’s promise to deliver high-quality life to all its citizens by 2030.

The global lender, citing a slow reduction pace averaging 1.8 per cent between 2005 and 2015, said more than a quarter of the Kenyan population will continue to live below the poverty line by 2030.

With the population projected to hit 65.4 million in the next 12 years, at least 16.4 million people are likely to remain poor.

“Kenya is not on track to eradicate poverty by 2030,” said Mr Allen Dennis, World Bank senior economist in charge of macroeconomics and fiscal management.

Under Vision 2030, the government seeks to transform Kenya into an industrialising, middle-income economy that gives high quality of life to its citizens.

“To achieve a poverty rate of three per cent by 2030, an annual poverty reduction rate of 6.1 per cent would be necessary”, Mr Dennis said, adding that a combination of inclusive growth and redistributive policies would be necessary.

The bank is rooting for favourable investment policies in labour intensive sectors, saying growth in agriculture has had the strongest impact on poverty reduction among lowest income earners.

It accounts for 41.07 per cent followed by 14.01 per cent services growth and manufacturing’s 6.02 per cent.

From 2011, the World Bank has been defining absolute poverty to encompass individuals whose daily consumption is no more than $1.90 (Sh191) a day.

Poverty declined from 43.6 per cent in 2005/06 to 35.6 per cent in 2015/16, says the World Bank.

Apart from monetary deprivation, the poor tend to face other multiple challenges in society including lack of access to improved sanitation and healthcare.

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