Kenya lifted 9.82 million people out of poverty between 2005 and 2016, even as millions more languished in abject want, a new report by the World Bank shows.
The bulk of the people who recorded an upward change in fortunes during the decade was a result of an improved economy which grew at an average of 5.3 per cent, significantly above the 4.9 per cent average for sub-Saharan Africa.
“The share of the population living below the national poverty line fell from 46.8 per cent in 2005/06 to 36.1 per cent in 2015/16, reflecting a modest but sustained improvement in living standards over the decade,” says the Kenya Gender and Poverty Assessment 2015/16 report by the Bretton Woods firm.
“However, Kenya’s poverty rate is roughly twice the average for lower-middle-income countries worldwide.”
The poverty line denotes those living on less than $1.90 or (Sh191.88) per day.
The report says rural areas drove the recent decline in poverty rates.
This saw the poverty rate in rural areas fall from about 50 per cent in 2005/06 to 38.8 per cent in 2015/16, reflecting a decline in the rural poor population from 14.3 million to 12.6 million. But poverty rates in urban areas stagnated, with a 2.7 percentage-point drop in the headcount poverty rate, which the bank deems as not statistically significant.
“The urban poor population increased during the period, both in absolute terms and as a share of the total poor population,” it says.
The World Bank report shows rural populations rode on better yields from agriculture from years of reduced drought and higher amounts of rain fall in the period.
“Due to the agricultural sector’s heavy dependence on rainfall, poverty reduction accelerated during years of good weather and slowed during years of drought,” says the report.