Election related violence is the biggest worry for majority of Kenyans in the New Year, a study has shown.
A new poll by Infotrak Research and Consulting shows 60.6 per cent of respondents’ single biggest worry for 2017 is election related violence.
The poll, sponsored by The Standard Media Group, however shows that 27 per cent of Kenyans have no worries about the New Year. It found that 7.3 per cent of Kenyans were worried about the high cost of living, while another 7.1 per cent are worried about insecurity in the New Year.
Unemployment and job insecurity is a concern for 4.7 per cent of Kenyans, while just 3.9 per cent are worried that they would starve in 2017.
The poll, conducted between December 21 and 22, 2016 asked 800 respondents what their fears or worries about 2017 were. It comes at a time political temperatures are rising, with the government and the Opposition differing over the election amendment law to allow the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to use a manual system in the event the electronic system fails.
The Opposition has read mischief in the amendments, saying they were made without consultations and forced through Parliament.
CORD, the Opposition coalition, had threatened to stage protests against the passage of the amendments by the National Assembly. But the coalition suspended the protests that were to begin on Tuesday after the Senate formed a select committee to listen to public views on the amendments.
The protests would have likely fueled conflict between the two divides in what could raise tension ahead of the August elections. Similar protests called by the Opposition mid last year cost lives.
Kenyans with tertiary, university or post graduate degrees, who form majority of the middle class, were the most worried about post-election violence. Sixty six per cent, which is two thirds of those who said they feared violence, had tertiary education. About 51 per cent and 61.4 per cent of those with primary and secondary level of education respectively also feared election related violence.
Men feared violence more than women, despite women and children being the biggest victims. The survey shows that 64.2 per cent of men feared violence, while 24.3 per cent had no fears for the New Year. Eight out of 100 men named high cost of living as their biggest worry while 8.4 per cent named unemployment as their biggest fear.
On their part, 56.9 per cent of the women polled fear election violence while 30 per cent, a third of those polled, fear nothing. Six per cent of women fear high cost of living while 5.7 per cent cited insecurity. A similar percentage of women fear job insecurity and 3.5 per cent drought.
This high cost of living ranks second after election related violence in the list of issues Kenyans fear going into 2017, while insecurity, unemployment and famine come third, fourth and fifth respectively.
“With rising unemployment, Kenyans have opted for self-employment with 42.4 per cent planning to start a business in 2017 compared to 19 .9 per cent who plan to get a job. Other mentioned resolutions include healthy living at 18.6 per cent and property investment at 15.3 per cent,” the survey says in part.
Job creation always ranks among the top pledges during campaign periods. The Jubilee administration, which campaigned on a platform of creating one million jobs, has been unable to hit this mark. Data from the economic survey shows that the country has been generating about 800,000 jobs on average per year, a majority of whom were created in the informal sector. Job creation is likely to suffer going by previous trends where the economy slows down as the country goes to the ballot.
Already, the economy has shown signs of slowdown with the third quarter numbers showing growth slowed between July and September.
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The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data shows that a contraction in the agriculture and forestry sectors saw the economy grow by 5.6 per cent compared to an expansion of six per cent posted over a similar period in 2015.
By region, Coast fears violence most, followed by Nyanza, areas that are seen as opposition zones. The North Eastern and Rift Valley regions have the least fear of election related violence.
Majority of respondents in the North Eastern region said they had nothing to worry about in the New Year, with 46.4 per cent expressing optimism about 2017. The Nyanza region is the most worried, with only 10 per cent of respondents here saying they had nothing to worry about. Respondents from the Coast and Nyanza regions were also the most worried about the high cost of living.
People from North Eastern Kenya are the most worried over insecurity followed by their neighbours in Eastern. Residents from Nairobi are the least worried among Kenya’s population on their security.
The coastal region had more people worrying about unemployment and job insecurity, with 8.2 per cent of the population from the region saying that is their biggest fear. Nyanza residents are also the most worried lot in the country over drought and famine in 2017.
About 23.2 per cent of those polled were aged between 23 and 30, while 19.3 per cent were between 31 and 35 years.