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.
Extent of Poverty in Kenya
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.
Poverty in Kenya and Millennium Development Goals
The prospects for Kenya meeting its poverty reduction targets set by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) remain bleak; in 2006 46% of the population was unable to meet essential food and non-food requirements, more than the corresponding figure below this poverty line in 1992.
Improvement during the recent years of more dynamic economic growth has been too slow to suggest that the target of halving the 1992 figure could be reached by 2015. Instead inequality as measured by the Gini coefficient has increased and extreme poverty (inability to meet basic food requirements) in 2006 was almost 20%.
Progress toward attaining universal primary education is far more positive thanks to the 2003 decision to grant free access which has had the effect of increasing school enrolment by 2 million children. Despite these gains, regional inequalities are pronounced, particularly in the enrolment of girls in arid and semi-arid regions. There are also concerns about the pressure on educational standards that is bound to follow such sudden demand on capacity.
Cost analysis brutally exposes the gap between hope and reality in the MDG project. A needs assessment carried out in 2005 concluded that the cost of achieving the MDGs in Kenya would be $61 billion over the period to 2015. The level of foreign aid in recent years, somewhat constrained by donor concerns over standards of governance, has amounted to considerably less than $1 billion pa.