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What does poverty look like in Kenya?

Kenyan Economy Expanding but Unequal 

According to USAid, with a GDP of $95 billion, Kenya recently reached lower-middle income status, and has successfully established a diverse and dynamic economy. In the decade between 2005 and 2015, Kenya's extreme poverty rate fell from 46.8 percent to 36.1 percent (World Bank). However, USAid reports that two-thirds of Kenyans live in poverty, making less than $3.20 a day. As a result, the majority of Kenyans, particularly women and girls, can be considered chronically vulnerable. 


“Kenya’s economy has shown considerable resilience to the enormous shock of the pandemic, and this year is expected to post one of the stronger growth rebounds in the region thanks to diversified sources of growth and sound economic policies and management,” said Keith Hansen, World Bank Country Director for Kenya. “However, poverty has increased, and the buffers and coping mechanisms of households, firms, and the public finances have been depleted.”


Informal Settlements: Snapshot

According to the World Bank, Kenya’s fast-paced economy has led to rapid urbanization,  with the majority of urban residents being absorbed into informal settlements. Informal settlements are areas with insecure residential status. They’re very overcrowded, roughly 60 percent of Nairobi’s 4.7M population occupy only 5 percent of the city’s footprint. Housing is made of poor quality building materials – like mud or metal sheets – and they often lack basic amenities like drinking water, electricity and sewage disposal.


Conflict, crime, substance abuse, unsupported schools, domestic abuse and child endangerment are systemic issues. 


“The glaring inequality [in Kenya's informal settlements] causes its own problems and tensions, one manifestation of which is urban violence and insecurity.” -The World Bank

Rural Divide: Snapshot

Learn more about multidimensional poverty and the global poverty crisis

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