Poverty and hunger have for a long time been a global issue with approximately 1.2 billion people world over living in extreme poverty and surviving on less than one dollar each single day. Poverty and hunger go in line since hunger itself are as a result of poverty. Many families are forced to go hungry since they cannot afford to feed themselves with the little they afford to make in a day (less than one dollar). This amount is not sufficient enough to cater for a families meal with the ever increasing cost of living thereby living the households with no choice other than going hungry.
Essay on poverty and hunger
In Kenya, the sub-Saharan country in Africa still battles with poverty, which has proven to be a huge menace for the developing world. This at times leads to hard times that result to hunger popping its head periodically every once in a while. Statistics in Kenya indicate that somewhere between a quarter and a half of the Kenya population earn less than one dollar in daily with the country’s annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita summing up to around $360 US dollars. Statistical records estimate that more than half of the rural population in Kenya lives below the poverty line and this represents a population of approximately nine million people. The urban centres, on the other hand, have a quarter of its total population living below the poverty line.
The high poverty levels experienced in this nation consequently affect the health of the country negatively. This leads to ill-health as a huge number of people living below the poverty line and suffers from hunger are forced to live in deplorable conditions and environments that make them more vulnerable to being infected by disease-causing organisms. These conditions and environments lack proper shelter, adequate sanitation and most importantly clean water.
National Poverty Rate in Kenya
National Poverty Rate (%)
Source: Republic of Kenya 2007 and Kenya Food Security Steering Group 2012.
Causes of poverty in Kenya
Limited Economic Diversity
It is approximated that over three-quarters of the Kenyan population is dependent on the agricultural industry. This sector is however very unstable due to the country’s erratic weather patterns coupled with most of its regions being arid deserts. Therefore, during periods of drought, a significant portion of the economy is affected thereby not only crippling most jobs in the country but also food supply. This, therefore, brings about increased poverty with most of the citizens left jobless and unable to put a meal on their tables. The situation worsens by the fact that the food supply has also been crippled. Unfair international trade tariffs and poor government policies also hamper agricultural growth in the country and the general decline in the country. These economic conditions only fuel increased ill-health as a result of poverty and hunger.
Lack of Opportunity
The country’s weak infrastructural and development opportunities lead to scarce job openings thereby subjecting the citizens to rely on their subsistence farming so as to feed themselves and at the same time bag some monetary income from selling this produce. The lack of opportunities to grow result into high poverty levels in the country which is, in turn, reflected on the negative health of the population. I.e. Most poverty stricken people are forced to use less of the health services so as to save and meet their daily needs. This, in turn, results in bad health that might end up tying them down thereby living their dependants in even worse of conditions.
According to from the statistics of Transparency International, Kenya is ranked as one of the top most corrupt countries in the world. This means that the government and leaders involve themselves in fraudulent activities, offering bribes and tribal favourtism which have an adverse impact on any attempt to improve the general conditions in the country. The leaders tend to pocket the money that would have otherwise been used for development projects which would have created job opportunities and as a result fight poverty.
Social inequity also results in increased poverty levels that culminate from cultural ideas that determine the worth of different genders, ethnic communities and social groups/ classes. For example, some communities in Kenya value the boy child more than the girls and thereby give all the development opportunities to the boy child. This leaves the girls extremely vulnerable to poverty, and thus they are also highly susceptible to severe health issues. Social classes also determine the opportunity levels available for most citizens in the country with wealthy families filling all the available opportunities leaving the low-class families to languish in poverty.
Illiteracy Wide Spread of Diseases
Though illiteracy levels have in the recent times gone down in the country, some percentage of the overall population still languish in this menace. This makes it tough for these people to improve their livelihood by taking advantage of the available job opportunities which require formal education. This group, therefore, ends up poverty stricken and is thus not able to use production technologies and preventive health services.
Wide Spread of Diseases
The spread of diseases such as HIV/AIDs and Malaria has been experienced in Kenya. These diseases not only increase health expenses for the affected families but also cripple their source of income. This result into increased poverty and hunger in the affected households. At times children are forced to drop out of school to fetch jobs so as to take care of their ailing parents. This results to child labour, illiteracy which in turn fuel increased poverty and hunger.
Children and Pregnant Women
Poverty and famine mostly affect little children who are forced to live in harsh conditions because their parents cannot afford a comfortable livelihood. Conditions such as inadequate shelter, poor sanitation and lack of clean water make the children very vulnerable to being infected by a disease-causing organism. This is because the children come live in areas with poor drainage and are likely enter into contact with bacteria that cause germs and hence diseases. Pregnant women are also very vulnerable to contracting diseases because of these poor sanitation conditions and lack of clean water which is very crucial during these periods. These groups are susceptible to contracting diseases such as malaria, cholera typhoid, etc.
Poverty rate in the world
Comparison of Poverty and Hunger between Kenya and Uganda
Both Kenya and Uganda are sub-Saharan African countries which are affected by poverty and hunger. These countries are from the same regional block, forming the Eastern Africa Community. From the above statistics from the World Bank, Uganda experiences higher levels of poverty and hunger with over 45% of its population affected by this health issue between 2002 and 2012. Kenya, on the other hand, experiences poverty levels of up to 33% of its population as per the statistics of 2002 and 2012.
Comparison of poverty and hunger levels between Kenya and USA
From the above statistics, the poverty and hunger levels in the USA are very low as compared to that in Kenya. This is because, from the high data, over 70% of the people living in the United States was able to meet all their expenses. This means that most over 90% citizens live above the poverty line.
Poverty, hunger and health are inextricably linked in that poverty is the cause of poor health, and it can also result from poor health. I.e. the chances of poor health increases as a result of poverty while poor health, on the other hand, cripples the workforce and productivity thereby trapping communities and households in poverty. Therefore the people affected by poverty are most vulnerable to poor health.
Kenya Open data (2015). “Poverty Rates by County based on KIHBS 2005/6 data”. Downloaded from https: //www.opendata.go.ke/poverty/poverty-rates-by-County/z6za-e7yb accessed on Friday 21stAugust 2015 at 9.00am
Mwabu, G., Alemayehu, G., Nick, de J., & Mwangi, K., S.et al. (2001). “Determinants of Poverty in Kenya: A Household Level Analysis”. Kenya Institute of Policy Analysis and Research Discussion Paper No. 9. Nairobi: KIPPRA.
Mwabu, G., Masai, W., Gesami, R., Kirimi, J., Ndeng’e, G., Kiriti, T., Munene, F., Chemngich, M., & Mariara, J. (2000). “Poverty in Kenya: Profile and Determinants”. Nairobi: University of Nairobi and Ministry of Finance and Planning.
Njeru, E. H. N., & Murimi, N. J. (2003). Poverty and human security in Kenya. Regional Development Dialogue, 24 (2): 179-192.
Sen, A. (1981) “Poverty and Famine: An Essay on entitlement and deprivation”. Clarendon Press, Oxford.
Ted, K. B. (2007). “Theories of poverty and Anti-Poverty Programs in Community Development” Journal of Community Development Society, 3
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