Some 75 per cent of Kenyans are looking forward to the end of this year, which they believe has been worse than 2016.
According to a new opinion poll released on Thursday, political unrest, slow economic growth, job losses and inflation have made their lives more miserable.
Those polled by TIFA Research, a market survey firm, in a study conducted between December 12 and 16, felt the country’s political climate, economic conditions, employment prospects, cost of living and internal security have worsened this year.
According to the research, only 12 per cent of the respondents feel the year was better than 2016.
Another 10 per cent said there were no significant differences with the remaining three per cent saying they didn’t know.
“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,” says Maggie Ireri, TIFA Research chief executive.
The survey, whose data was collected through computer-aided telephone interviews, targeted Kenyans aged 18 years and above and had a sample size of 1,005 respondents, living in rural and urban areas with a margin of error of + or -3 and a 95 per cent confidence level.
According to the survey, 64 per cent of the respondents said their biggest challenge this year has been the high cost of living, while 52 per cent cited political tension and 25 per cent unemployment coupled with the 100-day doctor’s strike which deprived thousands of Kenyans of essential medical care.
COST OF LIVING
North Eastern had the highest number of respondents at 82 per cent followed by Nyanza’s 72 per cent of those who cited the high cost of living as a major challenge.
Others who complained of high cost of living are from Eastern at 67 per cent, 56 per cent in Central, 63 per cent in Coast and Western, 60 per cent in Rift Valley and 56 per cent in Nairobi.
Some 71 per cent of respondents in North Eastern and 59 per cent in Coast singled out political tension as a big problem.
In comparison to other regions, Nyanza had the highest mentions for unemployment, doctors’ strike and poverty.
“The crisis in Kenya was not only evident in political tension but also in the wallets of many citizens who could not afford to buy basic food commodities such as maize flour, milk, and sugar, whose prices rose sharply and in some instances by over 200 per cent. 2017 was the year when food prices became the yardstick for Kenya’s economic performance in the eyes of the ordinary mwananchi,” said Ms Ireri.
Considering that 2017 was an election year and that Kenyans voted twice, 81 per cent felt that the political climate had worsened while 79 per cent said the economic conditions deteriorated in 2017.
The highest negative perception of worsening economic conditions was from Nyanza, while the lowest mentions were in Rift Valley.
Kenya lowered its 2017 economic growth forecast from 6.1 per cent to 5.5 per cent due to drought and political uncertainty.
The agriculture sector contributes about 26 per cent of GDP and employs more than 40 per cent of the total population, 70 per cent of who are in rural areas.
The drought affected crop production and animal productivity, consequently hurting the agro-processing industry because of constrained supply of food products.
The survey indicated that 71 per cent of Kenyans felt their employment prospects worsened in 2017.
Nyanza region had the highest mentions for low employment prospects while Rift Valley had the lowest.
The sentiments on employment prospects, explained Ms Ireri, are an indication of the reality as the job market experienced massive layoffs in various sectors.
“This is attributable to various factors, such as slow economic growth, political unrest, automation of business processes, inflation and the high cost of doing business,” she said.
“The agricultural sector that employs a considerable number of Kenyans under-performed due to the effects of the drought and this affected the livelihoods of many. Unemployment is considered a by-product of a weak economy.”
The pollster said a majority — 81 per cent — of Kenyans felt the cost of living escalated in 2017.
“In addition to unga, other basic commodities whose prices shot up include milk, sugar, dry beans, and potatoes. It is, therefore, not surprising that the cost of living was a key concern among Kenyans as most households were forced to dig deeper into their pockets in order to meet their basic needs,” said Ms Ireri.
The findings show that 62 per cent of Kenyans feel that internal security worsened in 2017 whilst 24 per cent disagreed.
The worst sentiments on insecurity were from Nyanza at 85 per cent followed by Nairobi at 80 per cent.
The negative sentiments in Nyanza and Nairobi could be attributed to the fact that these regions were more active in political demonstrations than others.