Kenya’s big divide and what to do
| Apr 23rd 2014 | 2 min read
Kenya: According to the World Bank, Kenya is one of the biggest and fastest growing economies in sub-Saharan Africa. It has enjoyed peace for the 50 years it has enjoyed self-rule.
Nairobi, the capital city boasts some of the swankiest sky-scrappers on the continent. Cranes and scaffolding jut out of the Nairobi skyline and major roads have been spruced up. Everything seems to be going well for the Kenyan people. Yet this modernity conceals another side of a city with despicable need and want, sprawling slums and shanties.
A World Bank report in The Standard on Saturday paints a bad picture of the country. Of the 40 million plus Kenyans, over 45 per cent live in abject poverty. What went wrong? What is the reason for this divide? A mismatch in policy formulation and implementation coupled with bad leadership has pushed back the growth agenda and subjected millions to a lifetime of penury. So even though Kenya has a high gross national income, it amounts to nothing because its effects are limited to only a few at the top.
And it is easy to know why Kenya is an underperformer. Kenya is a country that imposes heavy taxation on farm inputs making food sufficiency a mirage. A strangled agricultural sector consigns millions to poverty. From the East to the West, South to North, there are examples of wasted opportunity and missed chances. What’s more, Kenya is trailing countries that a few years ago experienced serious internal turmoil like Rwanda and Uganda.
Despondency is leading to a decline and erosion of the social and moral values of society. Prostitution, dementia, drunkenness and family violence are all linked to poverty. And an unhealthy, violent nation will not develop. So as the Jubilee Coalition ushers in a second year in Government, it is encouraging to note that they have devised ways to shake things up. They should pick the low-hanging fruit. Fixing agriculture is one such.
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