The Coronavirus financial crisis in the country has forced more than a quarter of Kenyans to dip into their savings for survival, a report has revealed. The report comes from a study done by research firm, GeoPoll.
Millions of workers were affected by the pandemic as it disrupted economic activities resulting in hardships in both the formal and informal sector.
“A majority 60 per cent of those who were employed from January to March 2020 say that Covid-19 has stopped them from being able to work,” said the report that surveyed workers in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Mozambique and Cote d’Ivoire.
In Kenya, 60 percent of workers said their jobs were affected by the pandemic with 26 percent reporting that they had dipped into their savings to sustain themselves due to the shortfall in their earnings.
Low income earners strapped for cash resorted to borrowing from mobile loans and digital lending apps.
“In addition to the inability for many to work, we found that almost half (49 per cent), stated that their income had ‘decreased a lot’ since Covid-19, and an additional 27 per cent stated that their income had ‘decreased a bit’,” said GeoPoll in the study report.
Only 5 percent of those working in farming, informal retail and service sectors reported an increase in income, while the majority reported a decline in the period under review.
Low income Kenyans and those in the informal sectors were more willing to adjust to the economic disruption compared to those in formal employment.
“Income level had a slight impact on likelihood of being able to work, but this varied by country and did not always show a linear trend,” said the study findings.
“For example, in Kenya, those in the lowest income bracket (0 –10,000 shillings per month) were more likely to report they were still able to work than the next income bracket (0 – 20,000 shillings per month).”
The study, however, indicated optimism among workers in the five countries. Most believed that they will have a job to return to once the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions are lifted and 85 percent believed that the economic disruption is only temporary.
The study tallies with a Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) study that released its report last month. In the report, 61 per cent of Kenyans reported being out of work due to the Corona virus, an increase from 50 per cent in May.However, 77.8 per cent of the individuals out of work reported being unsure if and when they would resume.
“Nationally, 37 per cent of households indicated that they were unable to pay rent for May 2020, while 31.6 per cent reported having paid the rent on time,” said KNBS.
Only 0.7 per cent of households in rented houses had been given waivers by their landlords. 30 per cent of households did not report having any coping mechanism to counter the effects of Covid-19 on their ability to pay rent.
The new findings underline the financial difficulties brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic forcing many Kenyans to dig into their future savings, casting uncertainty post retirement.