How West Pokot residents are dealing with high cost of living

A kilo of maize flour retails at Sh50 in Uganda markets compared to Sh60 in Kenya. [iStockphoto] 

With prices of basic commodities skyrocketing, traders in West Pokot are doing roaring business, sourcing alternative cheaper goods from Uganda for their customers.

Those living near the Kenya/Uganda border in Pokot North are also flocking the neighbouring country’s shops for essential goods such as flour, cooking oil, milk and fuel.

The residents flock Karita, Amudat, Kanyerus and Moroto markets in Uganda.

A kilo of maize flour retails at Sh50 in Uganda markets compared to Sh60 in Kenya. A litre of cooking costs an average Sh380 in Kenya and Sh250 in Uganda.

A 500ml packet of milk from Uganda sells at Sh80, compared to up to Sh100 on the Kenyan side.

Some traders have taken advantage of the soaring food prices and now source commodities from Uganda to supplement products for the Kenyan consumers.

Mr Peter Akidor says the mostly pastarolist local community has been adversely affected by drought. “This (high cost of living) has worsened the situation as locals struggle to keep their cattle alive to survive the effects of drought, while they also meet their needs,” he told The Standard.

He says many herders have migrated to Uganda in search of pasture and that living in the neighbouring country is cheaper. “The products there have become very attractive because they are more affordable than Kenyan brands,” said Mr Akidor.

Mr Domongole Abraham says many along the border have dual citizenship, making it easier for them to access the markets in Uganda and buy commodities.

“I would rather cross over to Uganda for the commodities that are more affordable,” said Mr Domongole from Orwolwa village that borders Uganda.

Those possessing the two countries’ identification cards also vote both sides.

Mr Domongole says his family consumes 2kg of maize flour daily, making it more difficult to sustain in Kenya.

Many small centres along the border, on the Kenyan side, stock Ugandan products.

“In West Pokot County, we have been using Ugandan products for long and we believe in Ugandan products,” said Mr Julius Merikit.

Mr David Pkukat, a shopkeeper, said the Pokot community had good relations with their neighbours in Uganda and there is good will in conducting business making it easy for them to access flour and other food items from Uganda.