Covid plunges more Kenyans into poverty

Donations from Kajiado Governor Joseph Ole Lenku to locals affected by Covid. [Peterson Githaiga, Standard]

The high cost of living and continued disruption from the Covid-19 pandemic are eroding the incomes of many Kenyans and pushing more households into poverty.

This is according to the latest survey by research firm GeoPoll that paints a grim picture of the financial hardships majority of Kenyans are experiencing.

“Renewed government restrictions due to yet another resurgence of the virus in Kenya has had a severe economic impact, with 70 per cent of respondents reporting a decrease in income with 35 per cent stating it decreased by a lot,” stated the survey.

The study was conducted through GeoPoll’s mobile web platform with about 400 respondents drawn from nine countries including Kenya. Respondents were asked to report on changes to their incomes, vaccination preferences and financial prospects over the past three months. 

In Kenya, 55 per cent of respondents said their spending on necessities such as food has increased over the past three months, with nine out of ten citing higher food prices as the reason for the increased spending.

The decline in income coupled with job cuts and furloughs reported across firms have led to reduced expenditure on non-essential items with households adjusting their spending to accommodate reduced earnings.

“About three out of four respondents in Tanzania (75 per cent) and Kenya (70 per cent) and half in Columbia (54 per cent) and South Africa (50 per cent) say their spending on non-essential items has decreased compared to three years ago,” stated the report. “These four countries also report some of the highest decreases in income.”

Kenyans surveyed in the poll also displayed the highest level of pessimism about their future financial prospects compared to all countries surveyed. Only 17 per cent of respondents in Kenya are extremely optimistic about their financial situation improving, compared to 44 per cent in Nigeria.

About 20 per cent said they were not at all optimistic. On vaccination, 65 per cent of respondents in Kenya said they would get the vaccine right away if available, compared to 48 per cent in April 2021.

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