Economic Hardship Grips Kenya as Over Half the Population Struggles to Make Ends Meet

By Seliphar Machoni

A recent InfoTrack survey conducted between December 18-19, 2023, and released on Monday, January 2024, unveils a grim reality for Kenya, with nearly 55% of its citizens unable to fend for themselves amidst challenging economic conditions.

The findings show that 18% of Kenyans face severe financial distress, while only 5% comfortably navigate a high economy.

Significantly, there is a 22% decline within the spectrum of individuals grappling with or experiencing only marginal comfort.

The report highlights regional disparities, with the Coast and Central parts of Kenya emerging as relatively resilient, boasting 76% and 74% survival rates, respectively.

However, pockets of struggle are evident, particularly in parts of the Rift Valley.

Further analysis reveals that Kenyans aged between 18-26 years and those above 55 constitute the highest percentage (77%) among those grappling with economic challenges. To cope, more than 45% turn to additional employment or side hustles, underscoring the prevalent job market strains.

The survey identifies key coping strategies adopted by Kenyans, with 47% of males and 42% of females resorting to side hustles.

Additionally, 41% are trimming non-essential expenses, reflecting a widespread shift in lifestyle choices.

In the face of adversity, 18% turn to loans, 16% utilize community resources, and 15% borrow from friends or family. Seeking financial counselling (8%), credit cards (4%), and even reducing daily meals (1%) emerge as tactics employed by those navigating the harsh economic landscape.

The survey underscores a nation at a crossroads, where resilience and resourcefulness become crucial elements in the daily lives of Kenyans striving to overcome the challenges imposed by economic hardship.

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