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Survey: Kenyans say good riddance to turbulent 2017

IFA chief executive Maggie Ireri. FILE PHOTO | NMG
IFA chief executive Maggie Ireri. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

It’s good riddance to 2017 which was riddled with biting drought, a surge in the cost of living and toxic politics that led to loss of lives, Kenyans have told pollsters.

Three out of every four respondents to a survey carried out by Trends and Insights for Africa (TIFA) judged 2017 to be an overall worse year than 2016.

The survey found that the biggest gripe for most Kenyans was the sharp increase in the cost of living, followed by political tension.

TIFA surveyed 1,005 Kenyans above the age of 18. The concerns about high cost of living and political tension had a ripple effect on the rest of society, leading to a perception that it was even more difficult to get hired this year than it was in 2016.

“Basically, 2017 was a bad year for Kenyans. The prolonged election period coupled with drought impacted negatively on the economy and this resulted in high inflation and reduced employment prospects,” said TIFA chief executive Maggie Ireri in the report.

2017 was the year when maize prices rose to historic highs, as a two-kilogramme packet of maize sold for over Sh150 before the government intervened with a price subsidy plan.

But it was more than just the ugali that was affected, drought depressed overall agricultural productivity, pushing up the prices of milk, beans, sugar and even basic vegetables.

In May, inflation hit a five year high of 11.7 per cent. It was a situation that left the average Kenyan family struggling to put a balanced diet on the table every day, while the poorest in society were in even more dire straits. 

The TIFA research indicates that people from Nyanza and North Eastern felt these tough economic times the most, with 93 per cent and 88 per cent, respectively, saying that economic conditions worsened in 2017.

On the other hand, Rift Valley had the lowest number of respondents (57 per cent) who felt that 2017 was an economically worse year than 2016.

The prolonged electioneering period left Kenyans frustrated and the vast majority (81 per cent) felt that the political climate deteriorated in 2017 in comparison to 2016. 

North Eastern (100 per cent), Nairobi (93 per cent) and Nyanza (92 per cent) regions were the most likely to feel that 2017 was worse politically.

Once more the Rift Valley region was the outlier as only 58 per cent of respondents said that 2017 was worse than 2016 in terms of politics.

“This could be an indicator that they did not feel the brunt of local and national politics in the same magnitude as other regions,” speculates TIFA.
Respondents from the Rift also had a more positive view about the employment prospects in 2017, compared to 2016.

Overall, 71 per cent of the respondents felt that 2017 offered them worse employment prospects.

2017 was characterised by a series of layoffs as the private sector tried to adapt to the difficult economic times. In the banking sector alone, at least 1,900 people had been sacked by October 2017.

At the same time agriculture, which employs majority of Kenyans both directly and indirectly performed poorly due to drought.

While insecurity was not at the top of concerns among respondents, at least 62 per cent of Kenyans felt that the security situation worsened in 2017 compared to 2016.

Residents of Nyanza and Nairobi, regions that were particularly affected by election related unrest, were more unanimous in rating 2017 worse than 2016 in terms of security.

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