The high cost living, corruption and unemployment are the three biggest challenges facing the country, according to a new opinion poll by Ipsos.
Twenty-six per cent of the 1,964 people interviewed said that inflation was the biggest problem, followed by corruption (19 per cent) and unemployment (16 per cent). Insecurity and hunger/drought tied at fourth place with 11 per cent of the respondents saying this was the biggest problem in the country.
Of those interviewed, 32 per cent who said the high cost of living was the biggest problem, said they supported the Opposition alliance, Cord, while 23 per cent said they supported the governing Jubilee Alliance.
Of those who said graft was the biggest problem, 22 per cent said they supported Jubilee while 18 per cent said they supported Cord. Those who said unemployment was the biggest problem were evenly distributed at 11 per cent for both Jubilee and Cord.
Jubilee supporters also appeared to be more worried about insecurity and terrorism, with 11 per cent saying this was a big problem compared with 10 per cent among Cord supporters. Jubilee supporters (10 per cent) also said hunger and drought were serious national problems compared with nine per cent of Cord supporters.
Overall, 52 per cent of those interviewed said they felt that the country was heading in the wrong direction, with poverty a key concern. Only 29 per cent felt that the country was heading in the right direction.
The survey released at the weekend indicated that before the attack at Garissa University College, where 148 people, a majority of them students were massacred, terrorism fears rated at below one per cent but shot to 11 per cent after the attack.
Jubilee supporters maintained a higher level of confidence in the government compared to the Cord. According to the poll, 41 per cent of Jubilee supporters said the country was headed in the right direction, compared to 35 per cent who disagreed. Among Cord supporters, by contrast, 74 per cent said they thought the country was headed in the wrong direction compared to 35 per cent who disagreed.
The objective of the poll was to gauge whether people were optimistic about their economic prospects since the advent of devolution, and what the leadership at both levels could do to improve the lives of the people.
When asked whether there was a member of the family that goes to bed hungry, the Coast region had the highest number of respondents who said yes — at 61 per cent. It was followed by Nyanza at 50 per cent. The Central region had the lowest at 33 per cent.
Eastern region had the highest percentage of respondents who said they had experienced a famine in the past one year at 78 per cent. Nyanza on the other hand, had the highest number of people (67 per cent) who feared that they would experience famine in the next 12 months.
Most people in Nyanza — 91 per cent — reported having experienced poverty in their locality, followed by Coast and Western at 89 and 87 per cent respectively. A total of 78 per cent of the respondents reported poverty in their areas.
Fifty two per cent of the respondents said both the national and county governments could do more to improve people’s welfare by creating employment opportunities while 36 per cent favoured incentives to improve agriculture and livestock farming.
Improvement of infrastructure came in third as one of the measures that could reduce poverty (27 per cent). Improving access to and standards of education was fourth at 20 per cent.
According to the survey, whose findings were released by Ipsos research analyst Tom Wolf, Kenyans were sharply divided over whether the recent marginal reduction in the price of petrol and kerosene had any impact on their lives. Close to 51 per cent said it had a positive impact, but 48 per cent said it hadn’t.
On another score, 48 per cent of the respondents said there was no change in the condition of their households over the past three months, while 22 per cent said that the economic condition had improved.
The figures however varied, when the question was put to Jubilee and Cord supporters, with 57 per cent of Cord supporters saying their condition had worsened compared 44 per cent of Jubilee supporters.
Majority of Kenyans who thought the country was headed in the right direction, cited improved economy at 41 per cent, infrastructure at 18 per cent and good leadership at 11 per cent. Those who disagreed, on the other hand, cited high cost of living and unemployment at 61 per cent, increase in corruption cases at 19 per cent and insecurity, including crime and terrorism failures at eight per cent.