Revealed: The richest and poorest regions - Daily Nation

Revealed: The richest and poorest regions

Tuesday November 18 2008

 

By SAMUEL SIRINGI

Free education, CDF and scrapping of some medical charges in public health centres have helped to reduce poverty in Kenya, says a new report.

The survey released on Tuesday shows how the levels of poverty are distributed in each of the 210 constituencies. Kajiado North constituency was ranked top while Turkana Central took the ‘poorest’ slot.

Nationally, the number of poor people fell from 52 per cent in 2002 to 46 per cent in 2006, according to the “Wellbeing In Kenya” survey released by Planning assistant minister Peter Kenneth.

The survey will now be used to determine how much money each constituency will get in the next financial year since it ranks the richest and poorest areas of the country.

The report was shelved earlier this year after some MPs from Nyanza Province, led by Mr Jakoyo Midiwo, claimed that its findings had been doctored to show that the region was relatively well off.

According to the MPs, poverty levels were still high in the region.

They rejected the report, saying it was meant to deny the region its fair share of the national cake. But its launch on Tuesday means that it will be used as the basis to distribute CDF allocations in the next financial year.

Kenya had about 36 million people when the survey was conducted, according to the director-general of the Kenya Bureau of Statistics, Mr Anthony Kilele.

In 2002, 18.7 million people were classified as poor, compared to 16.6 million in 2006. This means that during the five0-year period, 2.1 million people escaped from poverty.

According to the report, poverty is measured by the amount of money one needs to buy food to meet minimum nutritional requirements.

A person living in a rural area needs Sh1,562 while one who lives in a town needs Sh2,913 per month. Anyone who spends less than this amount on food is regarded as poor.

Constituencies are ranked according to the percentage of their populations living under the poverty line.

Mr Kilele said robust economic growth over the last five years had contributed to helping more people out of poverty.

The economy had been growing at a rate of about six per cent per year for the period under review.

“There was more money going into people’s pockets allowing them to live better lives,” said Mr Kilele.

“There was also increased transfer of funds from the urban areas to rural parts of the country,” the official said.

However, the economy experienced negative growth in the first four months of the year due to post-election violence.

Mr Kilele said the many building projects during the five years and the increase in the number of vehicles indicated overall economic growth.

The CDF kitty meant there was a lot of money being released to all parts of the country, and this led to the creation of more jobs and a reduction in the levels of unemployment.

The introduction of the free primary education under Narc also left parents with more money which they could spend on improving their lifestyles. Removal of charges in hospitals, especially for malaria and maternity services also ensured that more Kenyans had access to medicines.

According to the Constituency Report of Well-Being in Kenya, which is based on the Kenya Integrated Household Budget Survey of 2005/2006, Kajiado North is now ranked as the richest of the 210 constituencies.

Out of a projected population of 237,507, only about 25,308 (or 11.5 per cent) were classified as poor.

Coming a close second was Kajiado Central constituency where only 13,909 (or 13 per cent) of the 108,097 people live in poverty.

Kajiado South, Westlands, Kabete, Kiambaa, Ntonyiri and Nairobi’s Lang’ata, Embakasi and Starehe were among the top 10 richest constituencies in that order.

The poorest constituency was Turkana Central, where 97 per cent of the people were listed as poor. The constituency has 218,181 people.

Other areas at the bottom of the list were Turkana South (96 per cent), North Horr (95 per cent), Saku (94 per cent), Wajir (93 per cent) and Wajir South (90 per cent). The constituencies together have 1.2 million people.

According to the Labour Force report, which was also released yesterday, 1.9 million people aged between 15 and 64 are jobless.

Overall, there are 12.7 million people in this age bracket, which means that majority of them — about 10 million people — are in gainful employment.

Despite this relatively rosy picture, statistics show that 51 per cent of Kenyans remain undernourished. Those without enough to eat were getting 1,261 calories per person per day, which was far below the recommended 1,830 calories.

The reports were launched by Mr Kenneth as part of celebrations to mark the African Statistics Day at the KICC, Nairobi.

Mr Kenneth said rising food prices had led to an increase in inflation, resulting in the reduction of people’s buying power, which in turn cut savings and investments.

“Rising food prices have a direct and detrimental effect on economic growth, wealth creation and poverty,” Mr Kenneth said.