Monday, July 29, 2013

Kajiado richest and Turkana poorest in new county ranking

A couple tends their livestock. Kajiado has been named the richest county for the second year running. Photo/FILE

A couple tends their livestock. Kajiado has been named the richest county for the second year running. Photo/FILE 

By SAMUEL SIRINGI ssiringi@ke.nationmedia.com

Kajiado has been named the richest county for the second year running based on the relatively lower level of poverty among its residents.

According to the second edition of the County Fact Sheets, the people considered poor in the county can be pulled out of poverty the easiest.

However, the report compiled by the Commission for Revenue Allocation has not specified the number of people considered poor.

In Kenya, one is considered poor if he or she cannot afford Sh106.25 ($1.25) per day.

According to the commission, compared to other counties, Kajiado needs the least amount money to move its poor people out of poverty.

On the other hand, Turkana county, which is classified as the poorest, county will need the highest amount.

Turkana has its poor people living 67.5 per cent adrift of the poverty line.

That means the Turkana county government has a bigger task and must spend much more money to lift its poor population from poverty.

Ninety four people in every 100 in Turkana are considered to be living below the poverty line.

In the recent past, Turkana has made news due to the increasing use of agricultural technologies that have improved food production. In the medium term, this could see the number of the absolutely poor reduced.

Nationally, it is estimated that 46 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line although a recent World Bank report indicated that the number could have dropped further to 38 per cent.

Kenya has 38 million people, meaning that about 14.4 million people are considered poor.

According to the latest report, which has also shown county disparities in health, security and other infrastructure requirements, Kirinyaga is the  second richest county. Its poor people are living only 5.8 percentage points away from the poverty line.

Last year, Nairobi was second but this year it is ranked sixth. The city county has its poor people living 6.9 percentage points away from the poverty line.

In Meru county, the poor are 6.2 percentage points away from the poverty line. The county has been in the news lately after the UK banned the importation of miraa (khat) considered one of the leading income earners for farmers in the county.

Lamu is the fourth richest county in this year’s standings, with its poor people on average living 6.3 percentage points away from the poverty line.

On the opposite end, following Turkana from the bottom is Mandera county, where the people considered poor live 45.7 percentage points away from the poverty benchmark.

In Samburu, which is ranked 45th, poor people live 42.4 percentage points away from the poverty line.

Tana River’s poor live 29.9 percentage points away from the poverty line. The county is ranked at number 42.

The CRA report says the poverty gap was an important index in estimating the depth of poverty, showing how far – on average – the poor are from the poverty line. This can, in turn, be used to measure the resources needed to lift them from poverty.

The latest County Fact Sheet is the first to be released after the March 4 General Election, when county governments became fully operational. In the recent past, there has been considerable debate about the successes achieved in implementing devolution.

The government has said it has allocated at least 20 per cent of the national Budget to counties, which is more than the 15 per cent minimum stipulated in the Constitution. However, the opposition has accused the national government of undermining devolution, a claim that the government has denied.

“Kenyans have embraced devolution with such passion because they expect that it will help fill these service delivery gaps,” the CRA report says.

The new rankings will have significant implications in the distribution of money to counties. Also to determine the distribution of cash to the counties will be the population of the regions.

Overall, counties that have large towns, those that are agriculturally rich and those that attract tourists fair better than others in the new rankings.

These include Nairobi, Kiambu, Lamu, Nyeri, Nakuru, Mombasa, Kericho and Narok.

Most of the 47 counties are still predominantly rural.

But even well-off counties do not have equal distribution of wealth.

CRA Vice-Chairperson Fatuma Abdulkadir said: “Kajiado’s riches are concentrated in areas in proximity to Nairobi.”

She cited Ngong, Ongata Rongai, Kitengela, Isinya and Kajiado towns as some of the better off areas.

“The interior is as poor as any other marginalised areas of the country,” she said.

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