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Sad reality of 23.4 million Kenyans living below poverty line

By Paul Wafula August 12th, 2020 2 min read

A third of Kenyans are living below the poverty line, a new report that paints a sad picture of the indignity that millions are going through has revealed.

The 2020 Comprehensive Poverty Report by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) launched Tuesday indicates that 15.9 million out of 44.2 million Kenyans are poor, describing this scenario as an adult earning less than Sh3,252 in rural areas and Sh5,995 monthly in urban areas.

Besides the monetary poverty, it also measured the multi-dimensionally poor.

An individual is considered multi-dimensionally poor if he or she is deprived of at least three basic needs, services or rights out of the seven analysed.

The basic needs are physical development, nutrition, health, education, child protection, information, water, sanitation and housing.

The analysis also found that more than half (53 per cent) of the population or 23.4 million are multi-dimensionally poor.

The report found that children comprise the largest share of the multi-dimensionally poor (48 percent), followed by youth (25 percent). The elderly account for the smallest proportion of the multi-dimensionally poor at 6 per cent.


Geographical disparities in poverty indicate that there are inequalities in accessibility and availability of services.

Multidimensional poverty incidence in rural areas (67 per cent) is more than twice the incidence in urban areas (27 per cent).

The report also found that one in every three Kenyans (36 per cent or 15.9 million) are monetary poor.

Children comprise more than half of the monetary poor at 55 per cent, followed by youths (22 per cent). Again, the elderly account for the smallest proportion (6 per cent).

Monetary poverty incidence in rural areas (40 per cent) is higher than in urban areas (29 per cent), especially among youths and adult women and men.


More than 27 per cent of the population in Kenya is poor in monetary and multidimensional terms, 26 per cent is multi-dimensionally poor only, while 9 per cent is monetary poor only.

The report reveals great disparities in financial well-being and in fulfilment of basic needs and rights across counties.

More than a quarter of the population that is monetary and multi-dimensionally poor (2.8 per cent out of 11.8 million) resides in Turkana, Kakamega, Kilifi, Mandera and Kitui counties. Isiolo, Lamu and Nyeri counties together host only 0.9 per cent of the most vulnerable.

The other interesting finding is that boys are more likely to be multi-dimensionally poor than girls, but the difference is only 3 percentage points.

The difference in monetary poverty incidence between girls and boys is insignificant. The report is the first attempt at measuring poverty in a comprehensive manner.