Kenyans report dizzying levels of earning declines in Q1 2021

By Mourice Seretta

As services suspended for Kenya’s latest lockdown have resumed at speed, GeoPoll has unveiled its latest pan-African poll showing Kenyans are more worried than ever about the financial impact of Covid-19 and the accompanying restrictions.

With 79 per cent of Kenyans reporting their incomes have declined since January 2021, the country reported the most widespread income declines of any of six Sub-Saharan nations polled by GeoPoll from March 24th to April 12th this year.

Some 64 per cent of the 2,400 respondents in South Africa, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and Kenya said their incomes had fallen since January this year, and 42 per cent that they were down by a lot.

But the proportions were far greater in Kenya, and particularly among the youth, with 66 per cent of the Kenyan 15-25 year-olds polled saying the first quarter had seen their income fall drastically.

This widespread financial impact saw 54 per cent of the 400 Kenyans polled reporting that they were ‘extremely concerned’ about meeting their expenses over the next three months.

“When we see the trend in Kenya of deteriorating incomes in the three months leading up to each of our four polls during the pandemic, it becomes clear that Kenyans are experiencing progressive financial pressure, which is getting worse as the pandemic is prolonged,” said John Paul Murunga, GeoPoll Regional Director – East Africa.

This has played out in many other financial changes too, with three-quarters reporting they are using mobile money less often, and 41 per cent saying they are making mobile deposits and withdrawals a lot less often.

The poll also found further employment shifts as the proportion of respondents in full-time and part-time employment fell again, and the proportion who are now self-employed or unemployed rose. Overall, 35 per cent reported they were now unemployed.

Yet, despite the pandemic’s heavy economic costs, many Kenyans have retreated from their earlier enthusiasm to get vaccinated, reporting the lowest satisfaction of all the nations polled in the information they were getting on vaccination, at just 42 per cent. Most were positive about the way the government has handled the crisis, but where 68 per cent of the Kenyans polled by GeoPoll in November 2020 said they would get the Covid-19 vaccine as soon as they could, only 53 per cent reported the same intention in March 2021.

GeoPoll is a leader in providing fast, high quality research from areas that are difficult to access using traditional methods. Using mobile-based, remote methodologies including SMS, voice calls, and online modes, GeoPoll facilitates projects that aid in disaster response, assess food security, demonstrate demand for new projects, and more around the world.

GeoPoll combines a robust mobile surveying platform that has the ability to conduct research via multiple modes with a database of over 250 million respondents in emerging markets around the globe. Strengths lie in GeoPoll’s ability to target extremely specific populations, deploy surveys in multiple countries, and provide expert guidance on how to collect accurate, reliable data through the mobile phone.

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