Nyanza and Western Kenyan counties are among the devolved units that use most of their income on food.
According to the Kenya Economic Report 2023 released on Thursday by the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA), residents in these regions use two-thirds of their income to purchase food while residents in major towns like Nairobi spend less than half of their income.
In its report, KIPPRA affirmed that this is a worrying trend as these regions are predominantly agricultural-oriented and are expected to be food secure.
The KIPPRA report specifically identifies counties where residents spend more than 60 per cent of their income on food. These counties include; Migori, Homa Bay, Siaya, Busia, Bungoma, and Kakamega.
President William Ruto (left) and Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja (right) during a feeding drive at a school on June 20, 2023
“The high cost of food is attributed to the cost of transport, drought and increase in farm inputs,” KIPPRA said in its statement.
The report further pointed out that Trans Nzoia, Kisumu and Vihiga residents spend more than 50 per cent of their income on food.
“This calls for putting in place drought response mechanisms, climate change mitigation, provision of farm inputs and support of smallholder farming,” KIPPRA recommended in its report.
The report noted that just four counties in Kenya have residents who allocate less than half of their income toward food expenses. These counties are Nairobi, Mombasa, Kiambu, and Kajiado.
Turkana County recorded the highest food expenditure in the country, standing at 76.2 per cent of residents’ income, followed closely by Wajir at 71 per cent.
In summary, the data reveals that food prices constitute over half of the total expenditure in the country, with this figure increasing to over 60 per cent in arid and semi-arid regions.
“Interestingly, the value of food expenditure in rural areas was much more than their counterparts in urban areas,” the report pointed out.
The Economic Report highlights a disparity: rural working Kenyans allocate 60 per cent of their income toward food, even though many are involved in farming activities. In contrast, urban residents spend 48.8 per cent of their income on food.
KIPPRA attributed this trend to the fact that urban dwellers may benefit from higher disposable incomes and access to more affordable food options.
The think tank observed that another possible factor could be that urban residents contend with competing expenses, which limit their food expenditures.
KIPPRA in its report further observed that households in rural areas are suffering due to the rising cost of living.
A photo of a maize farm in Uyoma, Siaya County taken on March 4, 2023.