Six in 10 Kenyans can't afford three square meals a day - survey - Beaking Kenya News

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Friday, 19 February 2021

Six in 10 Kenyans can't afford three square meals a day - survey


Six in 10 Kenyans cannot afford three square meal a day as a result of the crushing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, a new survey shows.

The survey released on Thursday indicates food reserves in six of 10 homes could barely last a week and two out of 10 homes have no food at all.

The pain will worsen if tougher Covid-19 restrictions are reintroduced, it said.

The survey by Twaweza East Africa covered 3,000 respondents aged 18 and older between November 18 and December 3. They were in rural and urban areas with mobile phone networks. 

Data was created through random sampling from a database of contacts from previous surveys.

The survey is titled 'Learning to Live with Corona? Kenyan Citizens' Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices'.

There's higher awareness of the disease and more precautions are taken.

"There is hope," Dr Timothy Obuya from Population Council said during the release of the survey

"There is light at the end of the tunnel but the new variant might have travel barriers again. The culture of saving might need to be inculcated and the culture of thinking ahead about innovations people need to adopt."

The survey report said low food stores are more common in Nairobi and Mombasa, among those with lower levels of education and those who depend on casual work.

Only three in 10 Kenyans said they would run out of money in a day or less, compared to five in 10 according to a survey in June last year.

“There are signs households are better stocked with prescription medicines they need than was the case in June, " the survey report said. 

The report said two out of three Kenyans, 67 per cent, believe the education sector was worst hit by the pandemic, followed by the informal/jua kali sector and the heath sector at 60 per cent and 51 per cent, respectively.

“Citizens' behaviours and attitudes have evolved with the context. They are looking more and more for ways to survive and stay safe while carrying on with their daily lives.

"We can see increased mask-wearing and more self-quarantine but less use of the hotline,” Twaweza country lead researcher Dr James Ciera said while releasing the survey results.

He added, “Kenyans are now more worried  about health issues relative to economic concerns than was previously the case.”

The virus awareness levels among Kenyans have gone up to 97 per cent from just 63 per cent in June last year. However, one per cent of respondents said they never heard of the disease. Two per cent said they heard of it but don't know much.

Increased awareness has been attributed to campaigns by the Health ministry and messages in all forms of media.

One in four households reports that at least two members had been tested for Covid-19. Testing levels remained low in rural areas at 23 per cent.

Testing levels were highest in Nairobi and Mombasa at 32 per cent.

Nine in 10 people said they were aware of confirmed cases in their county; 73 per cent said they were aware of deaths in their county.

“Awareness of cases and deaths within a specific village, area or ward is lower, though four out of 10 residents of Nairobi (40 per cent) and Mombasa (37 per cent) are aware of confirmed cases in their communities," the report said.

The report said 0.8 per cent of respondents reported having confirmed cases within their households.

However, only 25 per cent of respondents said they were very confident they would be able to get help immediately should they get sick with Covid-19. This is a fall in confidence levels that was at 69 per cent in June last year.

The reduction has been attributed to scandals in the health sector over misspending and misappropriation of Covid-19 funds.

As a result of the scandals, only 37 per cent of Kenyans said the national government spent funds wisely. Only 39 per cent said they were confident counties spent funds prudently.

Levels of confidence in both the county and national governments were the lowest in men, Nairobi residents and those with higher levels of education.

The respondents cited mismanagement of funds, lack of equipment and supplies in health facilities and weak enforcement of preventive measures as areas of poor performance, at 47 and 43 per cent, respectively.

These shortcomings were followed by failure to protect the poor against the economic impact of the disease. This was cited by one in four respondents. Only 28 per cent said the government performed well.


Six in 10 Kenyans said the government should provide grants and funds to businesses to help citizens recover economically. Fifty-four per cent called for job creation.

Thirty-two per cent said tax relief would go a long way to help.

Eight per cent want the curfew hours reduced while two per cent said the government should provide relief food.

“Covid-19 continues to highlight existing inequalities, Dr Ciera said.

"The educated and salaried citizens and business owners are still better able to cope with the economic hardship while a significant share of the population do not have any food for a day at home.

"Yet citizens have a rich set of ideas for how government can help them to cope. Their voices just need to be heard,” he said.

Five in 10 Kenyans blamed increased local transmission of the virus on people returning to work while 42 per cent said it was due to relaxation of travel bans;  41 cited reopening of entertainment venues while 26 per cent attributed it to lack of adherence to containment measures.

Twenty-five per cent increased local transmission was due to political rallies, 15 per cent cited the phased reopening of schools and 12 per cent as a result of opening up places of worship.

Three per cent said the government is inflating the number of positive cases.

Kwame Owino from the Institute of Economic Affairs said the worst of the crises was between March and June last year when more than 1.8 million people lost jobs.

“Vaccine introduction seems to be on a lower track so lingering effects might make the crisis longer. The major determinant is whether the government will manage to get the vaccine,” Owino said.

Seven in 10 respondents said public places such as bars and markets are high-risk areas for contracting the virus, down from 85 per cent in June. Those saying the virus can be contracted in social gatherings remained unchanged since June at 62 per cent.

The report indicates 29 per cent believe the risk of contracting the virus is higher in urban than rural areas, up from 27 per cent in June.

“Citizens are now less likely to point to public transport as a place of higher risk. Close to half (45 per cent) cited public transport in June, compared to a quarter (27 per cent) in December," the report read.

Thirty-two per cent said Covid-19 restrictions have made them improve their hygiene with frequent hand washing and use of sanitiser.

Twenty-six per cent said they had time to bond with their families; 11 per cent said they had time for personal development; seven per cent were able to venture into new jobs such as production of face masks. Three per cent said used to time to get closer to God while another three per cent said they were able to eat a balanced diet.

To cope with the second wave, Kenyans have suggested stricter enforcement of rules and better supplies to health facilities.

They said daily Covid-19 briefings by the Health ministry are relevant and most said they help raise awareness.

Those who feel otherwise say briefings have become the norm and four per cent said it instils fear. Two per cent said the negative information is exaggerated.

Misconceptions persist a year after the pandemic struck, some saying drinking concoctions of ginger, honey and lemon or steam inhalation area a cure.


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