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World Bank lauds Kenya for reducing poverty rates

Nairobi, Dec 4 (IANS) Kenya has made progress in reducing poverty and inequality over the past decade, the World Bank said in a report which was released in Nairobi.

Utz Johann Pape, senior economist at the World Bank said that poverty rates declined over the period but remain high by the standards of lower middle income countries.

“Between 2005/06 and 2015/16 Kenya’s annual GDP growth rate averaged 5.3 per cent significantly above the 4.9 per cent average for sub-Saharan Africa,” Pape told journalists during the launch of the report on Tuesday, Xinhua news agency reported.

The report says poverty reduction accelerated during years of good weather and slowed during years of drought due to the agricultural sector’s heavy dependence on rainfall.

According to the report, while the agricultural sector has not been as dynamic as the service or industrial sectors, agriculture and non-farm activities in the rural economy played an important role in reducing poverty.

“Kenya’s poverty rate under the international poverty line also declined, falling from 43.7 per cent in 2005/06 to 36.8 per cent in 2015/16,”noted Pape, adding that Kenya’s coverage on social protection programs is very limited.

“More effective re-distributive policies including social protection programs and initiatives designed to expand economic opportunities could accelerate poverty reduction,” noted Pape.

The report also notes that the poverty rate in rural Kenya fell from about 50 per cent in 2005/06 to 38.8 per cent in 2015/16, reflecting a decline in the rural poor population from 14.3 million to 12.6 million.

Housing costs have also increased in small and medium sized towns as urban remained stagnant, says the reports.

“Closing in on poverty eradication in 2030 will require dedicated policies to accelerate poverty eradication,” added Pape.

Health indicators have also improved significantly over the past 10-15 years. “Mortality among children under the age of five declined from 114.6 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2003 to just 52 in 2014,” read the report.



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