What Is the State of Rural Poverty in Kenya as Defined by the Monetary and Capability Approaches to Poverty?
While the conflictions of definition regarding poverty continue to play out, one thing is definite; the state of rural poverty in the African province of Kenya is severe. With reference to the monetary and capability definitions of poverty, this relentless state of severity will be examined. Kates et al (2007) describes the rural poor as:
“…people [who] don’t and won’t enjoy food security, live long, read or write, have access to easy credit, empowerment, stabilise after shocks …suffer from ‘‘incapability’s,’’ [and] are poorly governed” (Kates.R.et.al,2007.p1).
This clearly depicts the mere depravity that the Kenyan rural poor are suffering on a daily basis. With more than half of the countrys 31.3 million people defined as poor, with 7.5 million living in extreme states (IFAD,2006), the state of destitution is excessive. Much of this poverty is due to the high dependency on agriculture for income. Fewer than five per cent of Western societies are employed in agriculture which is considered viable to produce more food than urban populations can consume (Saunders.D, 2010.p22). In contrast, approximately eighty per cent of Kenya’s population’s entire livelihoods depend on the vicissitudes of weather, fertilization and basic credit relations (Saunders.D,2010.p22). This is furthered by Kates et al (2007), who suggests that the physical qualities apparent in Kenya such as land use, soil type, turaine and distance to public resources, explain more than half of the rural poverty numbers (Kates.et.al,2007). Nonetheless, the IFAD (2006), presents the state of poverty in Kenya as a paradox, affirming that the despite the high number of civilians living in impoverished states, the nation possesses a relatively advanced agriculture and industrial sectors (IFAD,2006), despite being ranked 148th out of the 177 countries listed in the United Nation’s (UN) Human Development Index (UNDP, 2009). Since the capabilities approach index measures a nation’s depravity, it could be argued that this is a clear contradiction due to the lucid state that the majority of he Kenyan population are suffering from not to mention the decline in agriculture output due to the extremities of drought and floods. While the monetary approach to defining poverty is relative to income and its associations of poverty-lines, it is rejected by the capabilities definition which depends on human behaviour of those living in deficient states (Laderchi.C.et.al, 2003.p247). Hence, it is through these approaches that the state of Kenya’s rural poor is examined.
The monetary definition of poverty is centred on the United Nations Millennium Development Goals poverty line assessment, which defines a person as living in an impoverished state if they fall beneath US$1.25 per day (Laderchi.C.et.al,2003.p247). Whilst the global number of people living below the extreme poverty line decreased between 1981 and 2004 from 1,470 million