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					   THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN POVERTY AND HUNGER IN KENYA
            Angela Kaguara, BSc. Food Sci & Tech (U.o.N), MBA (U.o.N)
                                Senior Nutrition Officer,
                         Ministry of Medical Services, Kenya,
                                awairishk@yahoo.co.uk

Abstract

A lot of effort is being put in developing countries in the struggle to achieve the
millennium development goals. The first goal “To eradicate extreme hunger and
poverty” is addressed in this study. The root cause of food insecurity in developing
countries is the inability of people to gain access to food due to poverty. While the rest
of the world has made significant progress towards poverty alleviation, Africa, in
particular Sub-Saharan Africa continues to lag behind. Projections show that there will
be an increase in this tendency unless preventive measures are taken. Hunger is the
most extreme manifestation of the multi-dimensional phenomenon of poverty, and the
eradication of hunger is therefore instrumental to the eradication of other dimensions of
poverty. Kenya ranks 147th among 182 countries in the United Nations Development
Programme’s human development index and as such extra measures and studies need to
be put in place. The objective of this study is to establish the relationship between
poverty and hunger in Kenya. Many factors have contributed to this tendency.
However, in this study four variables including Employment to population ratio, Gross
Domestic Product (GDP) per person employed, Poverty headcount ratio and
Malnutrition prevalence have been used to make important conclusions.

Keywords: Poverty, Hunger, Developing countries, Kenya



1 INTRODUCTION AND RESEARCH OBJECTIVE

The root cause of food insecurity in developing countries is the inability of people to

gain access to food due to poverty. While the rest of the world has made significant

progress towards poverty alleviation, Africa, in particular Sub-Saharan Africa continues

to lag behind. Projections show that there will be an increase in this tendency unless


The Relationship between Poverty and Hunger in Kenya                           Page 1 of 13
preventive measures are taken. Many factors have contributed to this tendency

including the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS; civil war, strive and poor governance;

frequent drought and famine; and agricultural dependency on the climate and

environment (Mwaniki, A. 2005).




The objective of the research is to establish the relationship between poverty and hunger

in Kenya. The findings will be useful in designing the way forward in policy making

regarding poverty and hunger reduction in order to meet the Millennium Development

Goals in the year 2015.


2 THEORETICAL BACKGROUND AND INFORMING LITERATURE


In the developing countries, 70 to 75 percent of the poor and hungry live in rural areas.

Farming is, therefore, at the heart of their livelihood strategies. The International Fund

for Agricultural Development (IFAD, 2001) and the new World Bank Rural

Development Strategy (FAO, 2002) have reiterated the importance of farming as

worsening standards of living in rural areas drive desperate people to the cities, thereby

exacerbating urban poverty and a further decline of agriculture and the rural sector.


Over the past thirty years, poverty has been on the rise in Kenya. Poverty seems to be a

paradox in a country that has the best-developed economy in eastern Africa, with

relatively advanced agricultural and industrial sectors and substantial foreign exchange

earnings from agricultural exports and tourism. Half of Kenya’s 38.6 million people are


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poor with about 80 per cent of the population, including three out of four poor people,

living in rural zones. Most Kenyans live in areas having a medium to high potential for

agriculture, which comprise about 18 percent of the country’s territory. Population

density in high-potential areas is more than six times the country’s average of 55

persons per km2. While the poorest of the poor are found in the sparsely populated arid

zones of the country, mainly in the north, over 80 percent of rural poor people live in

higher-potential areas surrounding Lake Victoria and in the Mount Kenya region.


Kenya’s population has tripled over the past thirty years, leading to increasing pressure

on natural resources, a widening income gap and rising poverty levels that erode gains

in education, health, food security, employment and incomes. The causes of rural

poverty include low agricultural productivity, exacerbated by land degradation and

insecure land tenure, unemployment and low wages, difficulty in accessing financing

for self-employment, poor governance, bad roads, high costs of health and education

and HIV/AIDS (Kinyua, 2004). The country’s rural poor people include small farmers,

herders, farm labourers, unskilled and semi-skilled workers, households headed by

women, people with disabilities and AIDS orphans. Women are particularly vulnerable

because they do not have equal access to social and economic assets. For about 70 per

cent of women, subsistence farming is the primary, and often the only, source of

livelihood. (IFAD, 2001)


Many of the rural poor are subsistence farmers or landless people seeking to sell their

labour. They depend on agriculture for their earnings, either directly, as producers or

The Relationship between Poverty and Hunger in Kenya                           Page 3 of 13
hired workers, or indirectly, in sectors that derive from farming. Although poverty is

still primarily a rural problem, the rapidly increasing level of urban poverty requires

much greater policy attention (Naylor and Falcon 1995). Urban poverty is increasing

over much of the continent, and urban analysts believe the extent of urban poverty may

be underestimated (Satterthwaite, 1995). The urban poor spend a large portion of their

income on food (von Braun et al., 1993), which largely means that the poverty problem

appears as a food-security problem. Food-insecure people neither consistently produce

enough food for themselves nor have the purchasing power to buy food from other

producers (Maxwell, D.). Urban managers perceive urban food insecurity as obscured

by more urgent urban problems such as unemployment, the burgeoning of the informal

sector, overcrowding, decaying infrastructure, and declining services. Furthermore,

national policymakers have tended to focus less on urban food insecurity than on food

insecurity in rural areas, where it is typically a more seasonal and community-wide

phenomenon. Therefore, urban managers and national policymakers fail to recognize

urban food insecurity as long as food insecurity is a household-level problem and does

not translate into a political problem, thus does not attract policy attention (Maxwell,

D.)



Hunger is the most extreme manifestation of the multi-dimensional phenomenon of

poverty, and the eradication of hunger is therefore instrumental to the eradication of

other dimensions of poverty (UNEP, 2002). Persistent widespread hunger impedes

progress in other aspects of poverty reduction, and weakens the foundation for broad-

The Relationship between Poverty and Hunger in Kenya                          Page 4 of 13
based economic growth. Hunger also represents an extreme instance of market failure,

because the people who are most in need of food are the least able to express this need

in terms of demand.



The lack of action in the fight against hunger may have arisen from a belief that success

in poverty reduction, resulting from market-driven economic development, would

automatically take care of the problem of hunger. However, this thinking does not take

into account three points : first, poverty reduction takes time, while the hungry need

immediate relief ; second, in contrast to many diseases for which cures are either

unknown or unaffordable, the means to feed everyone are readily and cheaply available

; and third, hunger is as much a cause as an effect of poverty. Unless hunger is reduced,

progress in cutting poverty is bound to be slow (Sharma, 2000).



The existence of hunger in a world of plenty is not just a moral outrage; it is also short-

sighted from an economic viewpoint: hungry people make poor workers, they are bad

learners (if they go to school at all), they are prone to sickness and they die young.

Hunger is also transmitted across generations, as underfed mothers give birth to

underweight children whose potential for mental and physical activity is impaired. The

productivity of individuals and the growth of entire nations are severely compromised

by widespread hunger. Hunger breeds desperation, and the hungry are easy prey to

those who seek to gain power and influence through crime, force or terror, endangering

national and global stability. It is, therefore, in everyone’s self-interest – rich and poor

The Relationship between Poverty and Hunger in Kenya                             Page 5 of 13
alike – to fight hunger. A direct attack on hunger will greatly improve the chances of

meeting the other Millenium Development Goals, not only for poverty reduction, but

also those related to education, child mortality, maternal health and disease (FAO,

2002).


Urbanization and Food Security


There is increasing concern about the impact of growing levels of urbanization: by the

year 2025, 61 per cent of the world population will be living in urban areas. Many will

be living close to or even below the poverty line. How to adequately feed this rapidly

expanding urban population is a challenge (Diouf J. 1997).


In the 1960s, two in ten inhabitants in Sub-Saharan Africa and in Asia lived in cities,

whereas it is estimated that close on 60 per cent of the population will be living in urban

areas by the year 2025. Many African and Asian cities have urban growth rates which

will double their population in less than 20 years: Kampala (5.2%), Addis Ababa

(5.2%), Nairobi and Conakry (4.3%), Rawalpindi (3.8%), are some examples. This

unprecedented expansion calls for massive investments in food distribution, storage and

marketing facilities. (Diouf J. 1997).


The challenge in these countries is represented by the need to organise food production,

processing and marketing facilities so as to satisfy an urban demand characterised by

growing poverty levels.



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Addressing Causes of Poverty


Statistics show that in the world as a whole, there is more than enough food produced to

feed all the hungry. Moreover, they also show that countries with smaller proportions of

malnourished people tend to be more dependent on food imports than countries with

more widespread undernourishment. Therefore, persistent hunger is an issue not of

extremely unequal distribution among countries as well as within countries. The low

export earnings of the poorest countries limit them from buying enough food in the

world markets but even whose food is available inside a country the poorest of its

citizens are often unable to pay for it.


“Solving” world hunger by only increasing food production and not addressing root

causes of hunger (poverty), would not alleviate the conditions that create poverty in the

first place. If the poorer nations aren't given the sufficient means to produce their own

food, if they are not allowed to produce and create industry for themselves, then poverty

and dependency will continue. (Smith, 1994)


To eliminate hunger: (1) the dispossessed, weak, individualized people must be

protected from the organized and legally protected multinational corporations; (2) there

must be managed trade to protect both the Third World and the developed world, so the

dispossessed can reclaim use of their land; (3) the currently defeated people can then

produce the more labor-intensive, high-protein/high-calorie crops that contain all eight

(or nine) essential amino acids; and (4) those societies must adapt dietary patterns so


The Relationship between Poverty and Hunger in Kenya                           Page 7 of 13
that vegetables, grains, and fruits are consumed in the proper amino acid combinations,

with small amounts of meat or fish for flavor. With similar dietary adjustments among

the wealthy, there would be enough food for everyone (Smith, 1994).


To understand why people go hungry you must stop thinking about food as something

farmers grow for others to eat, and begin thinking about it as something companies

produce for other people to buy. The problem, of course, is that people who don't have

enough money to buy food (and more than one billion people earn less than $1.00 a

day), simply don't count in the food equation. In other words, if you don't have the

money to buy food, no one is going to grow it for you. What this means is that ending

hunger requires doing away with poverty, or, at the very least, ensuring that people have

enough money or the means to acquire it, to buy, and hence create a market demand for

food (Robbins).


Just giving/donating food as aid or charity in non-emergency situations is also not

always the long term answer, either. Rather than benefiting recipients, such “food aid”

has amounted to economic dumping, helping destroy local farmers and their production,

while supporting and bolstering large agribusiness. Hunger and poverty has increased as

an effect.




The Relationship between Poverty and Hunger in Kenya                           Page 8 of 13
3 METHODOLOGY

3.1 KEY CONSTRUCTS

The research was an exploratory study aimed at examining the relationship between

poverty and hunger in Kenya.       Four variables were used. The dependent variable

included Malnutrition Prevalence while independent variables included Employment to

population ratio, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per person and Poverty headcount

ratio.


3.2 POPULATION OF STUDY

The population of study was children under five years old and individuals above fifteen

years old.


3.3 DATA COLLECTION

Secondary data was gathered from the World Bank database where all data about Kenya

is stored and evaluated in order to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

Poverty indicators included Employment to population ratio, 15+, Gross Domestic

Product (GDP) per person employed and Poverty headcount ratio at $1.25 a day (PPP)

while hunger indicator was Malnutrition Prevalence for children under five years old.


The data collected was from 1990 to 2010 and regression analysis used to predict the

relationship between the poverty and hunger.




The Relationship between Poverty and Hunger in Kenya                          Page 9 of 13
4 RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN POVERTY AND HUNGER IN KENYA

Table 1: Data on Poverty and Hunger in Kenya


Year                                             1990     1995       2000    2005       2010
Employment to population ratio,         x1         73       73         73      73         73
15+, total (%)
GDP per person employed                 x2       2,651    2,341      2,221   2,287     2,453
(constant 1990 PPP $)
Poverty headcount ratio at $1.25        x3           38       29       23         20      20
a day (PPP) (% of population)
Malnutrition prevalence, weight         y            21       20       18         17      14
for age (% of children under 5)
Source: World bank database

Using Ms-Excel, the regression equation was generated from the following table.

Table 2: Coefficients and Standard error of variables

                                      Regression          Standard error
                                      Coefficients

                   X1                 0                   0

                   X2                 -0.01131            0.002916

                   X3                 0.488072            0.064275

                   β                  32.34782            5.884764



The multiple regression equation, y = b + m1*x1 + m2*x2 + m3*x3 becomes,

y = 32.348 - 0.011x2 + 0.488x3

The coefficient of determination, r2 = 0.9693 indicates that 96.93 percent of malnutrition

prevalence may be explained by the independent variables. Similarly, the correlation

coefficient, r = 0.9845 indicates a strong relationship between the independent variables

and the malnutrition prevalence (dependent variable).

The Relationship between Poverty and Hunger in Kenya                               Page 10 of 13
F-statistics

F-value = 31.57504 and the degrees of freedom, df = 2.

At α = 0.05, v1 = 5 – 2 – 1 = 2 and v2 = 2, the critical level of F is 19. Since F =

31.57504 and is much higher than 19, it is extremely unlikely that the F value occurred

by chance.

NB: At α = 0.05, the hypothesis that there is no relationship between known y and

known x’s is to be rejected when F exceeds the critical level, 19. Using Ms-Excel,

FDIST (31.57504, 2, 2) = 0.030698 which is a small probability.

The conclusion therefore is that the regression equation is useful in predicting the

malnutrition prevalence in Kenya.



t-statistics

Table 3: t- observed values of the independent variables

           Variable                                          t-observed value
           Employment to population ratio, 15+, total
           (%)                                                      N/A
           GDP per person employed (constant 1990
           PPP $)                                                 -3.8786
           Poverty headcount ratio at $1.25 a day
           (PPP) (% of population)                                7.5935

At α = 0.05 and 2 degrees of freedom, the t-critical value = 4.302653.


Comparing the t-observed values with the t-critical, the absolute value of -3.8786 is less

than 4.302653 while 7.5935 is greater than 4.302653. Therefore, Poverty headcount

ratio at $1.25 a day (PPP) (% of population), x3 is useful in predicting the malnutrition


The Relationship between Poverty and Hunger in Kenya                             Page 11 of 13
prevalence while the GDP per person employed (constant 1990 PPP $), x2 and

Employment to population ratio, 15+, total (%), x1 are not.


5 CONCLUSIONS


There is a very strong positive relationship between poverty and hunger. However,

being precise, there is no relationship between employment ratio to population and

malnutrition prevalence. In addition, there is an inverse relationship between GDP per

person and the malnutrition prevalence. A positive relationship is observed between

poverty headcount ratio and malnutrition ratio.


Analysts have found a strong positive relationship between economic growth and

poverty reduction. However, a country’s economic growth does not necessarily mean

reduction in headcount poverty. Therefore, in order to eradicate poverty and hunger in

Kenya, measures to reduce household poverty should be emphasized as opposed to

primarily increasing the gross domestic product (reducing national poverty).


SELECTED REFERENCES

http://www.fao.org/docrep/003/x6995e/x6995e01.htm


http://www.globalissues.org/article/8/solving-world-hunger-means-solving-world-

poverty


http://www.ruralpovertyportal.org/web/guest/country/home/tags/kenya


Smith, J, 1994: The World's Wasted Wealth 2, Institute for Economic Democracy,
The Relationship between Poverty and Hunger in Kenya                           Page 12 of 13
FAO (2002), Anti-Hunger Programme: Reducing Hunger through Sustainable

Agricultural and Rural Development and Wider Access to Food, Second Draft, Rome,

Italy, pp. 36

UNEP (2002), Africa Environment Outlook : Past, Present and Future Perspectives,

UNEP, Nairobi, pp 422.

Sharma (2000), Poverty: Look Beyond GDP Growth

Diouf, 1997: Director-General of FAO World Food Day

Maxwell, D.: Urban Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa

Mwaniki, A 2005: Achieving Food Security in Africa: Challenges and Issues. Cornell

University


Naylor, R.; Falcon, W. 1995: Is the locus of poverty changing? Food Policy, 20(6),

501–518.


Richard H. Robbins, Readings on Poverty, Hunger, and Economic Development


Satterthwaite, D. 1995. The under-estimation and misrepresentation of urban poverty.

Environment and Urbanization, (7)1, 3–10.


von Braun, J.; McComb, J.; Fred-Mensah, B.; Pandya-Lorch, R. 1993 :Urban food

insecurity and malnutrition in developing countries: trends, policies, and research

implications. International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC, USA




The Relationship between Poverty and Hunger in Kenya                          Page 13 of 13

				
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