Poverty has a major effect on the lives of hundreds of millions of people throughout the world, especially in Africa and parts of Asia. Approximately 1.2 billion people in the world live in extreme poverty (less than one dollar per day).
While talking of poverty, let us look at the various reasons for the persistence of poverty facing Kenya. According to a recent government survey, 16.5 million Kenyans – over half the entire population – live below the poverty line. The poorest communities can be found living in the barren areas in the north.
Since most of the land in Kenya is arid, it has suffered from frequent droughts over the years causing severe food crises in parts of Kenya, leaving millions of people facing malnutrition and starvation. Since Kenya’s economy depends heavily on agriculture, the effects of climate change have contributed to declining agricultural yields over the past decades. In addition, the population growth has outstripped economic growth, together with deteriorating infrastructure and extreme disparities of wealth has translated over time into declining income per head, worsening unemployment and thus increasing poverty.
Rural women are a particularly vulnerable category because they do not have equal access to social and economic assets. Subsistence farming is the primary – and often the only – source of livelihood for about 70 per cent of these women.
HIV/AIDS is most prevalent among young and middle-aged Kenyans, the most productive segment of the population. The illness leaves orphans and households headed by women that are even more vulnerable to poverty. The burden of waterborne diseases, malaria and HIV/AIDS weighs heavily on both the country and Kenyan families, affecting income, food security and development potential. (Source: IFAD)
In my view, and you all will agree that when communities invest in women and work towards eliminating inequalities from the society, their economies flourish and are less likely to be plagued by poverty. Educated and economically empowered women in return will raise healthier and better educated families contributing to an economically prosperous society.
.. Hina Faraz