Wednesday, July 06, 2016

The working poor

Forty-six per cent of Kenyans, according to World Bank, live below the poverty line. This means that they survive on less than $1 (Sh101) a day. In 2014, World Bank reported that four out of 10 Kenyans live below the poverty line.

With the number of the poor residing in Kenya’s informal settlements, the slum dwellers are now devising ways of earning a sustainable income. Abubakar Akay Abdullah, a 40-year- old father of two, does not fall in the category of people living below the poverty line, despite the fact that he resides in Africa’s biggest informal settlement. “I think a poor person is one who cannot afford his daily needs and I do not think anyone chooses to be poor. I have never slept hungry so I do not regard myself as poor,” he says. Abdullah is a charcoal distributor in Kibera’s Katwekera area. “This is my only source of income. I start my work at 6. 30am and close at 9 pm,” he explains. His work involves distribution of packaged charcoal to clients in various parts of Kibera. The father of two may not be among the Kenya’s middle class, but says he still provides for his family despite the fact that he resides a sprawling slum. In a day, Abdullah makes about Sh700 from his charcoal business.

A 2013 study by Grail Research puts the country’s middle class at 44.9 per cent of the total population, stating that due to the increased consumption by this segment, the country’s economy is on a growth trajectory. The upper middle class, according to the 2013 Rising Middle Class of Africa report, the middle class spend between $10 (Sh1,011) and $20 (Sh2,022) per day.

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