December 29, 2023


Kenya Ranked with Zimbabwe and Below Mali and Burkina Faso

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Working Poverty in Kenya as incomes fail to match inflation

Working Poverty in Kenya as incomes fail to match inflation

Photo courtesy of Oxfam

Eight out of 10 Kenyans who are employed, some 15.3 million people, live in poverty with insufficient funds to provide them, or their families with a decent living according to statistics released by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

International Labour Organisation Data

The ILO is a United Nations (UN) agency that brings together governments, employers and workers of the UN’s 187 states to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men.

The ILO’s statistics reveal that 26 percent of employed Kenyans are categorized as being extremely poor, with 29 percent rated moderately poor and 25 percent ‘near poor’.

Kenya Ranked with Zimbabwe and Below Mali and Burkina Faso

Of the 120 national economies ranked by the ILO’s data, Kenya is listed at number 30 in the world in terms of the highest proportion of employed people whose jobs do not afford them an income sufficient to raise them out of poverty.

Despite their economies producing a lower GDP than Kenya, Mali, Burkina Faso, Haiti, Cambodia and Ghana where workers are better off than in Kenya which rates alongside Zimbabwe in terms of working poverty.

The ILO’s rankings were based on the ‘international poverty line’ of $1.90 (Sh297.35) per person per day at purchasing power parity.

Minimum wage and the cost of living keeping those employed impoverished

Although the cost of living in Kenya has increased the minimum wage has failed to keep pace with it.
In 2022 the minimum wage in Kenya rose by 12 percent but that was set against the cost of a minimum wage basket that increased by 22 percent.

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics also suggests that ‘real wages’ – that is income when the cost of living has been taken into account – fell by three percent in 2022.

The ILO’s data is also supported by the findings of the Kenya Institute of Public Policy Research and Analysis (Kippra).

Kippra’s Kenya Economic Report 2023 showed a growing number of working people whose income are well below the level needed to pay for basic needs such as food and accommodation.


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