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Sunday, September 30, 2018
In Kenya 95 percent of its citizens say the gap between the rich and the poor is “too large".
The global charity organisation Oxfam in 2017 said 8,300 (less than 0.1 percent) own more wealth than the bottom 99.9 percent numbering more than 45 million.
The richest 10 percent earn an average 23 times more than the poorest 10 percent.
In Kenya, Oxfam says, more and more corporates are evading taxes, estimated at more than Sh100 billion a year — further compounding an already bad problem.
Since 2005, the number of Kenyans living on less than Sh190 (US$1.90 per day), has declined from 48.6 percent to 36.1 percent in 2015. In absolute numbers, however, this still is a marginal, almost negligible, improvement — from 16.6 million in 2006 to 16.4 million two years ago.
In March, a review of data by the Kenya Land Alliance showed women were allocated only 1.6 percent of about 10 million hectares of land that was registered between 2013 and 2017. This is despite the World Bank saying women run more than three-quarters of Kenya’s farms.
The report defines living in poverty as households earning below Sh5,995 a month in major urban centres, and Sh3,252 a month in rural areas. This is happening in a country where top executives of leading firms earn more than Sh1 million a day.
Co-operative Bank chief executive Gideon Muriuki last year walked home with Sh370 million, Sh99.8 million in salary and allowances and a Sh270.7 million bonus, with mobile telephone services giant Safaricom paying Bob Collymore Sh196.5 million, up from Sh168.5 million he earned in the year ending March 2017. In the same year, ARM Cement chief executive Pradeep Paunrana was paid a total of Sh114.7 million, with former Kenya Airways chief executive Mbuvi Ngunze walking away with Sh104.8 million.
A Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) survey of the richest counties showed Nairobi County has the lowest share of poor people. Only 17 of every 100 people in Nairobi live in poverty, followed by Nyeri and Meru with 19 each. Even then, the 2016 statistics report showed 40 percent of Nairobians at the bottom control a depressing 0.4 percent of the total expenditure. The agricultural county of Kirinyaga comes fourth, with Narok, blessed with the expansive Maasai Mara Game Reserve and good weather for wheat and barley growing, closing the tally of the five richest counties with 22 and 23 of its 100 people living in poverty, respectively. Kiambu, Machakos, Tharaka-Nithi, Murang’a and Mombasa close the top 10 rich list with averages of between 23 to 27 of 100 people struggling to put food on the table. Turkana, Kenya’s largest county, and which often receives the second highest amount of shareable revenue, at Sh10.7 billion this year, is classified as the poorest county in the 2016 survey with more than 79 in every 100 of its population living in poverty. The other devolved units in the bottom 10 are Mandera (78), Samburu (76), Busia (69) and Garissa (66), as well as Marsabit, Wajir, Tana River, West Pokot and Isiolo where 63.7, 62.6, 62.2, 57.4 and 51.9 percent of its residents, respectively, struggle to meet basic needs.