A change in the formula for allocation of funds to counties may help fight the inequality that was revealed in a poverty-levels survey launched on Tuesday. (READ: Revealed: The richest and poorest counties)
Commenting on the report “Exploring Kenya’s inequality: Pulling apart or pulling together?” chairman of the Senate devolution committee Kipchumba Murkomen said the pending Senate Bill on revenue sharing would help counties fight poverty.
“There are counties getting smaller allocations for sectors such as health than what they used to get before devolution,” he said.
The Elgeyo Marakwet senator said it was wrong to disburse money in lump sum without establishing what each region would require in critical sectors, as it meant some counties were getting short-changed.
He said with the current system, governors would find it difficult to fund critical sectors that the poor depend on.
Speakers at the launch of the report released by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics and the Society for International development (SID) in Nairobi on Tuesday, he said the poverty figures based on 2009 census, would help leaders assess development needs at the county and ward levels.
There were 15.8 million people in the labour force according to the 2009 census, meaning that less than half of the 42 million people are employed. Some 4.6 million were economically active (either employed or looking for jobs), 4.8 million worked in the informal sector, 2.7 million engaged in family businesses and 6.5 in family-owned holdings such as farms or subsistence activities.
In the report whose details we published on Tuesday, counties from arid and Semi-Arid regions such as Wajir, Garissa, Turkana and Mandera have the lowest job opportunities.
We had also reported that the country’s 15.4 million working people do not get paid for their work because they mainly work in family-owned businesses or farms.
On Tuesday, the bureau’s acting director-general Zachary Mwangi clarified that this position would be erroneous.
In a statement, Mr Mwangi said it would be inaccurate to say those in family-owned businesses get no pay.
“The definition of work covers all persons undertaking economic activities, both in market and non-market related activities.
Family-owned businesses constitutes what is referred to as own account workers or self-employed,” he observed, explaining that this would include those in formal and informal employment, in profit organisations or family holdings.
Further, the Statistics chief clarified that the figure of 7.7 per cent of people aged between 15 and 64 and indicated as jobless does not mean they are idle with no source of income.
This is because it includes the retired and full-time students who may not be looking for jobs after all.
The Commission for Revenue Allocation which developed the formula used to allocate funds to counties was accused of failing to use the most recent census figures in tabulating what each county would get, and that the wealth index at county level also missed crucial statistics on poverty levels.
The inequality report assesses levels of development, such as income, education and safe drinking water at the ward level, a more accurate way of measuring levels of poverty.
SID Programme director Katindi Sivi-Njonjo said the report indicated that there were some counties that had been categorised as rich in a CRA assessment and yet there were some wards within those counties that had high poverty levels such as Loima in Kajiado County, compared with Rongai ward in the same county.
A CRA assessment had rated Kajiado as the richest county, but the plight of residents of Loima may be buried in the statistics, with leaders on Tuesday calling for the equalization fund to go towards assisting ward specific poverty.
Speakers decried the skewed priorities of leaders only concerned with personal emoluments, and a poverty strategy that only promotes consumerism and not productivity.