Kenya: Rural Areas Lead Urban Centers With High Poverty Levels, New Report Shows

Nairobi — Poverty levels are higher in rural areas compared to urban centers, a new report shows, highlighting low economic opportunities in the upcountry.

While poverty incidence in rural areas stood at 40.7 percent in 2021, it was marginally lower at 34.1 percent in towns and cities.

Low job opportunities in the upcountry are to blame for high levels of poverty, with the majority finding working opportunities difficult.

Poverty incidence in towns seems to be low owing to the numerous economic opportunities that cities enjoy with factories and private and government institutions.

"Hardcore poverty incidence remains high in rural areas, where 7.8 per cent of residents (2.6 million individuals) were hardcore 34 poor as compared to urban areas where 1.5 percent of the residents were hardcore poor, " the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) report reveals.

KNBS data also shows that 4.9 percent of households were hard-core poor, meaning they could not afford to buy essential goods and services.

Nationally, 4.4 million Kenyans live in poverty.

A high proportion of poverty indexes are higher in Turkana (38.2 percent), Wajir (26.6 percent), Samburu (25.9 percent), Mandera (25.2 percent), Marsabit (20.7 percent) and Tana River (20.5 percent).

Individuals who are unable to afford basic necessities such as food stood at 5.8 percent countrywide, meaning that 2.8 million people live in abject poverty.

It also exposed the sorry state of the country's food situation, noting that 10.8 million individuals are below the food poverty line, which translates to a whopping 32.2 percent of the country's total populace.

"The results show that the overall poverty headcount rate for individuals at the national level was 38.6 percent in 2021, implying that 19.1 million individuals lived in overall poverty," added the statement.

Turkana County also leads with the highest severity of poverty index at 22.6 percent, followed by Wajir at 13.8 percent, Samburu at 13 percent, Mandera at 11.3 percent, Marsabit at 8.8 percent, and West Pokot at 8 percent.

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