Compared to pre-pandemic rates, unemployment has nearly doubled. The working hours and earnings of wage workers have been cut, especially impacting the wider population of hustlers and the unemployed youths/women. Most families relied solely on the income of their small businesses, but due to lockdown restrictions, many businesses closed or experienced significantly reduced revenue hence were unable to employ while others forced their employees to go home. During the first four months of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 1.7 million Kenyans experienced job losses. Up to now, the number of unemployed people keeps rises without any hope of stopping any time soon. The impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Kenya affects household welfare due to fewer work opportunities and lower earnings, which leads to decreased food security, crime, prostitution, gangs, wash wash business and other extremely unlawful schemes. Health professionals over the last few months have been on the forefront asking the Government to review the lockdown measures and open the economy. But so far nothing has been done to cushion the citizens while still people are suffering even more. Kenyan lockdown restrictions have now turned to be a burden for the people where many have lost jobs and business closed.
Time for Reform
Reducing inequality is crucial to closing the poverty gap and improving the counties socioeconomic welfare of its citizens. Even if Kenya continues to deliver high GDP growth rates over the next decade, the predicted poverty rate will still top over 20% by 2030. Key policies need to be devised that will cushion everyone against these hardships experienced. Thus, the most important reforms shouldn’t focus so much on raising the growth rate on paper even more but rather on ensuring a more equal distribution of economic growth so all portions of the population can benefit. Second, there are the effects of changes in output prices. The domestic prices of tradable commodities are largely exogenous, and the government should intervene so that prices of basic commodities go down to affordable rates for the common mwananchi.
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