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Kenyans stare at worst standard of living as inflation hits 9.6P.c in October

Data collection occurred throughout August 2022 in 9 countries across the globe, including Guatemala, Jamaica, Nigeria, Tunisia, South Africa, Kenya, Turkey, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

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By Steve UMIDHA

Kenyans have been told to prepare for the worst standard of living with experts now warning that the situation will weaken in the coming months before it gets better.

Latest data by research firm, Geopoll on the ‘global cost of living crisis’, while listing commodities whose prices have gone up since May, warned that many Kenyans across the country have surpassed the limit of what they can afford to pay to live.

“As bad as the cost of living crisis may be right now, most respondents expect it to get worse before it gets better. They expect both prices in general and their total household spending to continue to rise,” notes the survey.

Skyrocketing food prices in Kenya where the average household spends more than 40 percent of its income on food, have pushed many families to the brink. With as many Kenyans saying food prices have “increased a lot” in the past 6 months, even food staples have climbed out of reach.

Respondents who took part in the survey, agreed that food prices had been climbing steadily in the past several months, illustrating the scope and severity of the crisis.

Meat, eggs and fish are some of the food products whose prices have increased the most, according to the report – rising by 50 percent, followed by cooking gas or fuel and cooking or edible oil ascending at 61 percent and 81 percent respectively.

The prices of wheat and maize corn has also shot up by 73 percent according to the survey, with the ravaging drought in the country has also left the country more dependent on costly grain imports.

“In our study, 1 in 4 respondents overall say they or a household member has gone to sleep hungry in the past 7 days because there was not enough food. That number rises to 44 percent in Kenya,” reads the report’s findings.

On an individual level, one in three respondents in our study or 34 percent say their income has not changed since February. Decreasing incomes and rising prices in Kenya have worsened the financial situation for 47 percent of most Kenyans, according to the report.

More than 3 out of every 4 respondents in Kenya or 79 percent reported feeling extremely concerned about rising prices.

Despite enduring multiple waves of COVID-19 throughout 2021, many parts of the world showed promising signs of economic recovery. In early 2022, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine along with a sharp downturn in China halted much of that progress. Experts now project global economic growth to slow from an estimated 6.1 percent in 2021 to 3.6 percent in 2022 and 2023.

The ongoing drought concerns as well as economic mismanagement, and supply chain disruptions caused by the war in Ukraine have spiked commodity prices across sub-Saharan Africa, increasing food-security concerns throughout the region. Kenya has not been spared.

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) estimates that 3.1 million Kenyans are facing acute food insecurity.

The inflation rate in Kenya reached a five year high in August, primarily driven by an increase in food prices hitting 9.2 percent in September, 2022 and the outlook for 2022 and 2023 remains extremely uncertain.
Monthly inflation data by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows the country’s overall rate of inflation in October stood at 9.6 per cent compared to 9.2 per cent in September.

The last time the country witnessed this kind of inflation was in June 2017 when it hit 9.21 per cent.

“The rise in inflation was largely due to an increase in prices of commodities under food and non-alcoholic beverages (15.8 per cent); transport (11.6 per cent) and housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels (7.1 per cent) between October 2021 and October 2022,” KNBS said.

In response to soaring inflation, the government has been left with a daunting choice to either increase spending to support its citizens while burying itself deeper in debt or implement austerity measures and potentially incite social unrest.

Geopoll says concerned Kenyans are primarily blaming government policies and mismanagement for the crisis.

Such was the case last week when President William Ruto defended his call for the public to pay taxes as the government moves to ramp up revenue collection in its race to meet a Sh6 trillion collection target by 2027.

The move has seen the Kenya Kwanza – government through the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) embark on tax reform measures that could see every Kenyan above 18 years brought into the tax bracket.

The prospect of change in government, however, may bring hope to some. That holds true to recent sentiments by President William Ruto who assured the public that tangible ‘fruits’ will be felt after 12 months in office. Ruto was sworn in office in September 2022.

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