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81pc of Kenyans unable to meet needs – poll

Twenty one and 14 per cent said they will obtain items on credit or borrow money respectively/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 14 – Eighty one per cent of Kenyans feel their income is insufficient to meet their basic needs, a poll by Twaweza East Africa has revealed.

According to Twaweza East Africa’s Senior Programme Officer, Victor Rateng, eight in every 10 of the 1,739 respondents sampled in the poll said they were unable to cater for their daily needs estimated at Sh99 per person.

The survey released Tuesday also indicated that almost half (49 per cent) of the country’s population faces cash constraints with those affected compelled to cut down on their expenditure to survive.

Forty three per cent of those sampled went to bed without eating for the whole day due to lack of money. Another sixty five per cent told the pollster that they had skipped a meal in the past three months at the time the survey was being conducted.

Forty four per cent of households interviewed disclosed that they had withdrawn their children from school for either lack of school fees or inability to buy school supplies.

Three in every four of the respondents in the poll conducted between September 23 and October 11 said they had challenges paying house rent.

Asked what they will do when their income does not meet daily needs, forty nine per cent of respondents said they will reduce spending on some non-essential items.

Twenty one and 14 per cent said they will obtain items on credit or borrow money respectively.

The respondents identified inflation, corruption and unemployment as the most serious problems they faced at 41, 14 and 8 per cent.

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If those who took part in the survey were to be given Sh10,000 by the government, a majority indicated that they would allocate Sh3,600 on average to start or boost an existing business.

Savings, school fees and food followed in the list participants saying they would spend Sh3,593, Sh1,892 and Sh1,891 on each of the three.

Speaking during the launch of the survey, Dr Alex Awiti, Director at the East African Institute, attributed the cash constraints to the structure of the country’s economy which he said fails to take into consideration the county’s agricultural potential.

According to Awiti, inability to produce locally remained a major barrier to wealth creation despite annual improvements in the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“Our economy is such that the fastest growing sectors of the economy are in Information Communication Technology (ICT), trade, banking and telecommunications. These areas employ very few people,” he said.

Awiti wondered why Kenyans showed little interest in pushing for sectoral reforms to improve their lot adding much needed to be done to align the country’s economy to the needs of the its citizens.

“If this data reflects the reality in this country then it should shape the nature and the discussion of politics that we have today,” Awiti noted.

According to Twaweza East Africa, the 1,739 respondents submitted their responses through handsets provided by the research firm regardless of whether they had personal phones or not.

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