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A Brief General Profile on Inequality in Kenya

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A) GENERAL PROFILE
This part of the project developed three papers:

i) A Profile of Inequality in Kenya 
Socioeconomic Stratification: Poverty & Inequality 
Recent events in Kenya have cast a disturbing light on the depth and complexity of social distress in the country. The conflict arising from the disputed presidential elections has roots in inequality, poverty, poor governance and a host of other issues. However the major underlying issue is clearly the perception of deliberate unfairness and inequality in the distribution of national resources. These perceptions have a basis in the real practice of successive Kenyan governments. However it can also be argued that beyond the real biases in resource allocation is the widespread failure of the State due to deliberate policies of retreat compounded by unchecked corruption. Poverty has progressively deepened as the state has reduced its provisioning of social services. This retreat of the state has been coincident with the slow and persistent decline that characterized the country’s economic performance from the 1980’s until the turn of the century. Thus narrowing economic perspectives due to declining economic growth, deepening inequality and pauperization due to Structural Adjustment and the arbitrary ravages of corruption have combined to create a multidimensional social crisis. The DPMF’s research on Social Policy Development and Governance has hinted at the inherent dangers of the ever yawning gap between the elite and marginalized majority in this country. Public policy has failed to gauge the depth of alienation and the consequent explosive social climate. However signs of the malaise have been apparent to scholars and policy makers for decades.

Our own research has looked at the links between class formation and inequality. Ultimately class interest may lie at the heart of policy choices that have been so harmful to the poor in Kenya. Findings from our data analysis show for instance that the income distribution of workers employed in the formal sector is in the form a pyramid. Thus the highest wage from 0 to 90% level is 15,000 a month. From 91% - 99 % the wage rockets to Kshs 100, 000. And the 1% above the 99% level earn beyond Kshs 100,000 a month. Thus the top 1% can be considered as the economic, social and political elite. And the nine percent below may be categorized as the various levels of the emerging middle class. The remaining 90% who earn 15,000 (highest) to 0 monthly are workers and peasants in urban and rural areas. 

A more comprehensive picture of social stratification however is not possible given the lack of data on income and especially assets. Most households do not report truthfully or fully the assets they own in national surveys. Moreover such surveys are often designed to collect data on household consumption rather than ownership of assets or household wealth. Given these limitations, a large part of our analysis is restricted to the 14% of the Kenyan working population who are wage earners and their households. It is nevertheless clear that this sub set of the sample is representative of the broader society, in particular trends can be observed in the constitution of socio-economic classes. The huge inequality in wages, if anything understates that of wealth in general. Moreover it mirrors the huge qualitative difference in the living standards enjoyed by the ruling elite (political, business etc…) and those of everybody else. The wealth gap between the elite constituting less than 1% of the population but controlling disproportionate resources and earning sometimes thousands of times the median wage earned by the bottom 90% is only hinted at by the wage differentials. Clearly the wealthiest Kenyans make most of their money from their wealth and a more careful study of the wealth distribution using adapted data sources and methodology is required. 

ii) A Profile of Education in Kenya
The basic data and information of the report on Education that has been sourced from the ministry of Education Publications reports and website. Additional literature is sourced from various organizations and publications. Secondary data consisting of enrollment statistics for Primary, Secondary and Higher education consisting of Public and Private Universities and Middle Level Colleges also inform the analysis. Enrollment statistics for students across all eight provinces are presented for Primary and Secondary levels of Education.

Enrollment levels have been highly influenced by colonial policy on development: exclusionary practices have seen certain regions in Kenya benefit more from ‘development’. Access to infrastructure and social amenities as well as access to educational amenities were and still are distributed along colonial administrative divisions, with communities in the more endowed regions benefiting from the proximity to these facilities. Even with the onset of independence, colonial patterns of economic development inform access to economic and social infrastructure, amenities and by extension education. Regional disparities in development have spilled over to the education sector. 

As a consequence of SAP, basic and higher education have been affected. Even with the introduction of Free Primary Education, transitional rates from Primary to Secondary level are still wanting. Poverty has a huge bearing on access to education, in terms of drop out and ability to provide books, uniforms etc to children. 

Poverty levels also negatively impact on transition to secondary school education. Students from middle and upper income backgrounds, education is more accessible and dropout levels are fewer. In higher institutions of learning cost sharing policy means that many students have had to look for income generating activities to supplement their costs of living. On the other hand, liberalization of higher education attracted another category of individuals. Self- sponsored programmes in public institutions of higher learning have meant that more individuals and students from higher socio-economic strata can afford to access higher education. 

Gender disparities exist to date: poverty, HIV/Aids and cultural practices have negatively affected enrollment of females across the education divide even with the introduction of Free Primary Education, enrollment of girls in some instances still lags behind. Gender disparities in accessing basic education means that fewer females can access higher education. In addition, gender disparities even where more females are enrolled in institutions of learning are biased in relation to academic disciplines. For instance Private institutions of higher learning have a higher female to male ratio; but focus mainly on institutions offer Arts and Business related courses for bureaucracies of the service sector.

Unequal access to all levels of education is a basic characteristic of the educational system in Kenya. This leads to deepening regional, class and gender differentiation in the country. Further the content of the education in Kenya is skewed in favor of the softer subjects for the service sector at the expense of IT and other development relevant science technologies.

iii) A Profile of Crime and Insecurity in Kenya
It is clear that the interplay between economic, social and political factors have contributed to crime and state of insecurity. Key issues that have a bearing on crime and insecurity include inequality and poverty: most crime committed are poverty related with crimes such as stealing and robberies forming the bulk of crime recorded. Inequality in terms of access to social amenities and economic opportunities is also a big contributory factor in exacerbating crime. Conflict amongst pastoral communities has increased dramatically and is attributed to poverty and inequality in accessing infrastructure, social amenities and resources like water and land. Politics has sparked off the latest post-election violence. The violence and conflict are rooted in the favoritisms of state practice based on ethnic alliances. Political activities that have often spilled over into violence and hence insecurity are a characteristic feature of Kenya and these have serious implications. 

The analysis on insecurity uses quantitative data. Secondary statistics on crime mainly from the Kenya police website and statistical abstracts. It examines major crime incidences that exacerbate the state of insecurity. Other sources of data and information are crime surveys from Security Research and Information centre (SRIC), other organizations such as Kenya National Human Rights Commission and other literature on crime including media reports on crime and insecurity incidences. 

Poverty and inequality are a major cause of crime, violence and conflict and therefore general insecurity. More important however is the absence of democratic governance which has led to the manipulation of state institutions giving rise to rampant corruption, ethnicisation of state institutions, absence of accountability and generalized impunity granted to the power elite. The state has thus failed to provide a general state of peace and security and leads people to feeling that the law is applied in a discriminatory manner and that they are abandoned and unprotected.
 

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