Despite some positive developments, poverty in Kenya has continued to be a huge problem. Even hunger in Kenya continues to rear it’s head from time to time.
The dry poverty statistics in Kenya sum it all up. Somewhere between one quarter and half of the population earn less than $1 US each day (the annual GDP per capita is around $360 US). It was estimated in 1992 that half of all rural Kenyans were living below the poverty line. That represents approximately 9 million people. The situation is not quite as bad in the urban centers, where such poverty only effects a third of the population.
A 2005 report by the United Nations ranked Kenya as 154th out of a list of 177 countries, in terms of life expectancy, literacy levels and overall gross domestic product. Just three years earlier, the country had ranked 134th. For comparison, Uganda was ranked at 144th, and Tanzania was 164th. Both are immediate neighbors of Kenya.
There are several factors contributing to the ongoing problem of poverty in Kenya, though the issue of Kenya’s economic state is far more complex than a simple list of causes.
Limited Economic Diversity
Around three quarters of Kenya’s population is dependent on the agriculture industry, but with its erratic weather patterns and vast regions of arid desert, it is a very unstable sector. Periods of drought can be crippling, not only in terms of food supply, but in jobs as well.
Even when crops have been sufficient, poor government policies and international trade terms hampers agricultural growth, leading to further declines in the industry through the 70s and 80s. Starting in 1991, further serious problems in the country’s GDP became evident, leading to extended government action which has not proven to be successful at stemming the tide of poverty in Kenya.
Lack of Opportunity
Weak overall infrastructure for the country means that nearly all the rural population are forced to rely on their own subsistence farming for their own food as well as monetary income. Jobs are scarce, leaving people with little opportunity for employment. There are considerable obstacles for starting a small business yourself in Kenya as well. Micro credits may be one way to foster small entrepeneurs. They will be important when eradicating poverty in Kenya.
Another factor is education. School fees are often out of reach for poor families, leaving each generation to continue trying to find work while lacking the education to advance. Cultural biases towards women create further limitations for the growing number of female-led households.
According to Transparency International, Kenya is one of the most corrupt nations in the world. It is difficult for the majority of the population to escape the poverty in Kenya, when government money is used improperly.
Bribes, fraud and tribal favoritism are common within the all levels of government, which hampers any attempt to improve conditions across the country. In the early 2000s, the Kenyan government began taking steps to reduce the rampant corruption. These reforms have inspired some confidence, and brought additional foreign investment back to Kenya, but at the core of the system corruption remains.
Unfair Tariff Walls By Rich Countries
Protection of their own economies through tariff walls poses another problem. An increase of international trade has proven beneficial for many developing countries – look at China, India and countries in South America.