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Why high cost of living is not all about the price of Unga

By Winnie Onyando November 24th, 2023 3 min read

When politicians address the issue of the high cost of living, their focus often narrows down to the seemingly straightforward solution of reducing maize flour prices.

However, it is crucial to recognize that the intricacies of the high cost of living extend far beyond the realms of affordable maize flour, which is commonly referred to as unga in Kenyan circles.

Merely slashing unga prices to Sh200 or Sh140 does not guarantee a blissful life for Wananchi.

The reality is that even with more accessible maize flour, the challenges persist.

This is because the high cost of living encompasses a multitude of factors.

The complexities of the high cost of living are multifaceted and require a comprehensive approach.

It is a confluence of various economic, social, and systemic issues that demand thoughtful consideration and nuanced solutions.

To truly alleviate the burden on citizens, policymakers must broaden their perspective beyond the singular focus on maize flour prices.

By delving into the broader issues contributing to the high cost of living, we can uncover the root causes and develop sustainable solutions.

It’s time to shift the narrative from a simplistic fixation on unga prices to a more holistic understanding of the multifaceted challenges faced by Wananchi in their daily lives.

In addressing the high cost of living, we need a comprehensive strategy that takes into account factors such as inflation, unemployment, housing costs, and healthcare expenses.

Only by adopting a nuanced and inclusive approach can we hope to make a meaningful impact on the lives of ordinary citizens.

In conclusion, the high cost of living is a complex issue that requires a more sophisticated and comprehensive response than merely reducing maize flour prices.

Policymakers and leaders must rise to the occasion, acknowledging the diverse challenges faced by the public and working towards holistic solutions that truly improve the quality of life for all.

Below are some factors that lead to the high cost of living in Kenya:

Taxation Policies

Changes in tax rates, especially on income and consumption, can impact disposable income and, consequently, the cost of living for individuals and households.


When the general price level of goods and services in an economy rises, the purchasing power of the currency decreases. This can lead to an increase in the cost of living as people need more money to maintain their standard of living.

Rising Housing Costs

Increases in property values, rental prices, and associated housing expenses can significantly contribute to the overall cost of living. Limited housing supply, increased demand, and urbanization can drive up housing costs.

Healthcare Expenses

The cost of medical care, including insurance premiums, co-pays, and out-of-pocket expenses, can be a substantial burden on individuals and families, impacting the overall cost of living.

Education Costs

The expenses associated with education, including tuition fees, textbooks, and other related costs, can contribute to the overall cost of living, especially for families with children.

Fuel and Energy Prices

Fluctuations in the prices of fuel and energy sources can affect transportation costs and utility bills, impacting the daily expenses of individuals and businesses.

Unemployment and Income Levels

High levels of unemployment or stagnant wage growth can result in financial strain for individuals and families, making it difficult to cover basic living expenses.

Currency Exchange Rates

If a country’s currency depreciates against other currencies, the cost of imported goods and services may rise, affecting the overall cost of living.

Interest Rates

Changes in interest rates can affect the cost of borrowing for individuals and businesses, influencing spending patterns and overall economic conditions.

Global Economic Factors

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