In 2017, Kenyans experienced a number of challenges ranging from political unrest, slow economic growth, job layoffs, and inflation to high cost of living.
In a survey conducted by TIFA Research between December 12 and 16, it was found that three quarters of Kenyans feel that 2017 was worse than 2016. There is also a perception that there was deterioration of the political climate, economic conditions, employment prospects, cost of living and internal security.
“Basically, 2017 was a bad year for Kenyans. The prolonged election period coupled with drought impacted negatively on the economy and this resulted to high inflation and reduced employment prospects” says Maggie Ireri, the CEO of TIFA Research.
The poll by TIFA Research reveals that high cost of living, unemployment and political tension were the major challenges Kenyans faced in 2017.
64 per cent of those polled cited high costs of living, 25 per cent attributed to unemployment while 52 per cent said they year was flawed by political tension.
High cost of living
The highest mentions of this challenge was in North Eastern (82 per cent) followed by Nyanza (72 per cent).
“The crisis in Kenya was not only evident in political tension but also in the wallets of many citizens who could not afford to purchase 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 yard stick for Kenya’s economic performance in the eyes of the ordinary mwananchi” says Ms Ireri.
Considering that 2017 was an election year and that Kenyans voted twice, 81 per cent felt that the political climate worsened.
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Political tension had the highest incidence in North Eastern (71 per cent) followed by Nyanza and Coast both at 59 per cent mentions.
Rift Valley is an outlier as only 58 per cent were of the opinion that the political situation deteriorated. According to TIFA Research, this could be an indicator that they did not feel the brunt of local and national politics in the same magnitude as other regions.
The job market in Kenya experienced layoffs in various sectors including; media, banking, manufacturing, insurance, NGO’s and retail. This was fuelled by factors such as slow economic growth, political unrest, automation replacing people, inflation and high costs of doing business. The agricultural sector that employs a considerable number of Kenyans underperformed due to the effects of the drought.
The survey indicates that 71 per cent of Kenyans felt that employment prospects worsened in 2017. Nyanza region had the highest mentions for employment prospects worsening whilst Rift Valley had the lowest.
Unemployment which is considered a by-product of a weak economy was mentioned as an issue in 2017 by 25 per cent of Kenyans.
79 per cent of the public felt economic conditions worsened in 2017 compared to 2016.
The harsh economic conditions were felt mostly in Nyanza region and North Eastern which had a 93 and 82 percent rating respectively while Rift Valley was the least affected with 59 percent rating.
Kenya also lowered its 2017 economic growth forecast from 6.1% to 5.5% which was attributed to drought and political uncertainty as a result of the long electioneering period.
The drought affected crop production and animal productivity which contributes 26 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
62 per cent of Kenyans felt that internal security worsened in 2017 while 24 per cent had a contrary opinion. The worst sentiments pertaining security was from Nyanza at 85 per cent followed by Nairobi at 80 per cent.
In 2017, there was a series of political demonstrations that resulted to human injuries, loss of lives and destruction of property.
According to TIFA Research, the negative sentiments in Nyanza and Nairobi could be attributed to the fact that the regions were more active in political demonstrations.
The fieldwork which was funded by TIFA Research Kenya was conducted between 12 and 16 December 2017 with a sample size of 1,005 respondents living in both urban and rural areas.