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The Political Economy of Hunger: Volume 3: Endemic Hunger$

Jean Drèze and Amartya Sen

Print publication date: 1991

Print ISBN-13: 9780198286370

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198286370.001.0001

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7 Poverty and Food Deprivation in Kenya's Smallholder Agricultural Areas

7 Poverty and Food Deprivation in Kenya's Smallholder Agricultural Areas

Chapter:
(p.236) 7 Poverty and Food Deprivation in Kenya's Smallholder Agricultural Areas*
Source:
The Political Economy of Hunger: Volume 3: Endemic Hunger
Author(s):

Judith Heyer

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198286370.003.0008

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the nature and extent of deprivation in various smallholder agricultural areas of Kenya, and looks into the reasons behind the success of some areas compared to others in addressing this problem. Access to earning opportunities outside the sector, employment opportunities in the urban and large-farm sectors, and opportunities for exporting non-agricultural products can make a big difference. The chapter identifies important frequently overlooked intersectoral interconnections between agricultural and non-agricultural activities which could address the problem of endemic poverty. It suggests developing the whole economy — urban, industrial, large farm, and smallholder agriculture — to accommodate a rapidly increasing large population.

Keywords:   non-agricultural activities, intersectoral interconnection, food-related poverty indicators, agricultural activities

7.1. Introduction

In this chapter, the nature and extent of food‐related poverty in smallholder agricultural areas of Kenya is explored. We look at what makes some areas more successful than others in minimizing poverty and food deprivation. Differences between Kenya's smallholder agricultural areas allow a discussion that is relevant to many other parts of sub‐Saharan Africa.

Kenya is one of the minority of sub‐Saharan African countries with a relatively impressive record in the 1970s and 1980s, as far as conventional indicators of macroeconomic performance are concerned, although the 1980s has been a more difficult period. Smallholder agriculture has made an important contribution to Kenya's economic performance. Kenya has also done relatively well on basic needs (Ghai 1987). But there is still great poverty in Kenya and this could change for the worse very easily.

The population growth rate is very high in Kenya, at well over 4 per cent a year. Most of the increasing population has to be accommodated in smallholder agricultural areas. The challenge of increasing population densities is met more successfully in some areas than in others, as we will see.

Food is not the only problem and perhaps not even the most important problem faced by the poor in Kenya. The poor in Kenya's smallholder agricultural areas suffer from intermittent food shortages some of which are acute, and their diets can be monotonous, but the grossly inadequate intake of food that is prolonged enough to show up in high incidences of severe malnutrition is rare. There is severe deprivation of other kinds: ill health is still a very major problem, as are drudgery; poor education; inadequate water; limited transport; violence; and inability to participate in the society at large.

It is always difficult to find good indicators of the aspects of poverty in which one is interested. One of the obvious food‐related poverty indicators that is available for Kenya's smallholder agricultural areas is child malnutrition, although this appears to be as much an indicator of poor health as of grossly inadequate intake of food. (Svedberg, in Chapter 5 above, comes to a similar conclusion from examining the evidence from a number of sub‐Saharan African countries.) There are reasonable figures on child mortality, which is another very serious problem in Kenya's smallholder agricultural areas, (p.237) particularly for the poor. It does not appear to be that closely related to malnutrition, though. We discuss the evidence on these and inadequate food expenditure in this chapter.

The chapter starts with an introductory section on the location of poverty in Kenya. Then there is an account of regional differences between Kenya's smallholder agricultural areas based mainly on evidence from the 1970s. The fact that much of the relevant survey evidence is now somewhat dated is a problem, but putting it together with other evidence allows a characterization of different smallholder agricultural areas that continues to be broadly accurate into the 1980s. The next section of the chapter contains evidence on food‐related indicators of poverty: food expenditure, food intake, child nutritional status, and child mortality in different smallholder agricultural areas. Finally, in the last section of the chapter there is a discussion of particular factors that might explain why the incidence of poverty and food deprivation differs from one region to another in the way that it does. The discussion centres on processes that produce high incidences of poverty and food deprivation in some smallholder agricultural areas, and much lower incidences in others. Much of the discussion is relevant not only to Kenya. Similar factors are involved in other parts of sub‐Saharan Africa as well.

7.2. The location of poverty in Kenya

There has been a good deal of work on the incidence of poverty in Kenya, most of it based on the 1974/5 Integrated Rural Survey and other mid‐1970s figures. In this work, households with income or expenditure below certain levels are defined as poor. There has also been work on other aspects of poverty, and some of this is discussed in more detail later in the chapter. But for the broad poverty profile it is the household income and expenditure measures that are used. The estimates are shown in Table 7.1.

Table 7.1 Profile of poverty in Kenya, 1974/5

House‐hold poverty line (Kshs p.a.)

Total population (000)

% of population

Population below poverty line (000)

% of class

% of poor

Pure pastoralists

4,285

725

5.0

615

85.0

14.6

Pastoralist farmers

2,700

75

0.5

25

33.3

0.6

Migrant farmers

2,000

200

1.4

110

55.0

2.6

Landless

Poor occupations

1,900

420

2.9

210

50.0

5.0

Good occupations

n/a

245

1.7

Smallholders (IRS1)

2,000

10,340

72.3

2,990

28.9

71.0

Nairobi

2,150

700

4.9

20

2.9

0.5

Other urban

2,150

700

4.9

40

5.7

1.0

Squatters

Large farms

2,000

600

4.2

200

33.3

4.8

‘Gap’ farmsa

n/a

270

1.9

Large farmers

n/a

20

0.1

All categories

14,295

100.0

4,210

29.5

100.0

(a) Farms in the smallholder areas too large to be included in the smallholder category, but excluded from the large farm census.

Source: Collier and Lal (1980).

Kenya's population is overwhelmingly rural: between 80 and 90 per cent of the population still lived in rural areas in the 1970s. The rural areas can be divided broadly into pastoral, smallholder agricultural, and large farm areas. In the mid‐1970s, it was estimated that more than 70 per cent of the total population lived in the smallholder agricultural areas, 7 per cent or more in the pastoral areas (estimates of the pastoral areas' population still vary considerably), and 7–8 per cent in the large farm areas. The urban areas were dominated by Nairobi, responsible for 50 per cent of the urban population, and Mombasa, another 25 per cent or so. There were a number of smaller towns, few of them of any size, and many smaller market centres with a few shops, scattered through the rural areas.

In most of the estimates poverty is defined as income insufficient to ensure that minimum food requirements are met. The definition of minimum food requirements is always problematic. The level of dietary adequacy regarded as critical varies from 2,250 calories per person per day (Crawford and Thorbecke (p.238) 1980; Greer and Thorbecke 1986a, 1986b) to 60 per cent of WHO/FAO age‐and sex‐specific requirements the highest of which is 1,344 (60 per cent of 2,240) calories per adult male (Fischer and Shah 1985). Another of the more serious problems with these estimates of poverty is the lack of reliability of the income and expenditure data.

The figures differ according to whether poverty is estimated at the household or the individual level; whether and how adjustments are made for household size and composition; the level of food requirements regarded as minimal; and the extent to which adjustments are made for regional differences in diet and food prices. Some of the estimates are income based; some are based on expenditure. But as they all use the same data sources, it is perhaps not surprising that the differences are, on the whole, minor.

There are some broad general statements that can be made about poverty in Kenya. (1) Urban incomes are generally so much higher than rural, and the incomes even of the urban poor are so much higher than those of the rural poor, that urban poverty can be regarded as a relatively minor problem. (2) Poverty is widespread in all smallholder agricultural areas, but the incidence is considerably higher in some than in others. (3) In common with other parts of (p.239) sub‐Saharan Africa, poverty is most serious of all in arid pastoral areas. (4) Poverty is not as serious a problem among estate labourers as among other groups in Kenya.

From the overall poverty profile, shown in Table 7.1, the severity of poverty among pastoralists and others in arid and very arid areas is evident. The pastoral areas suffer from recurring food shortages sufficiently severe to attract government and other relief measures and from time to time they suffer from famine. The estimates from the mid‐1970s suggest that as many as 85 per cent of the pastoral households and 50 per cent of the migrant farmer households in arid and semi‐arid areas had incomes below those required to ensure that minimum food requirements were met on average over the years. Pastoralists make up 15 per cent of Kenya's poor population and migrant farmers 3 per cent, according to the estimates summarized in Table 7.1. But while the plight of the people living in pastoral areas in Kenya is very serious, the numbers involved are small compared with those in agricultural areas that also suffer from severe poverty and deprivation. It is those in smallholder agricultural areas that are more often ignored and neglected.

Most of the smallholder agricultural areas are in and around the highlands that run from the south‐east of Nairobi to the west and north‐west. There are also smallholder areas at lower altitudes towards the coast. Plantations and large mixed farms are interspersed with these.

All of the different estimates of poverty in the smallholder agricultural areas suggest that at least 25 per cent of the smallholder agricultural households were poor enough not to be able to afford what were regarded as minimum food requirements in 1974/5. Collier and Lal, estimating the proportion at 29 per cent, conclude that this group represented about 76 per cent of the total poor in Kenya at that time. Although the severity of poverty may not be as great as in arid areas, the numbers affected in smallholder areas make them a dominant part of the poverty problem in Kenya.

The other groups that figure in the overall totals for Kenya are squatter households on large farms, 33 per cent of which were estimated to be poor in the mid‐1970s, constituting 5 per cent of the population estimated to be poor at that time; and the poor in urban areas. These latter are possibly underestimated at 2 per cent of the total, but even if the estimates were substantially increased, urban poverty would still be a relatively minor part of the problem.

Food crises, or famines, affecting the arid and semi‐arid areas sufficiently seriously to produce a collapse of normal economic relationships, depriving a large proportion of the population of entitlements, and resulting in a significant amount of abnormal migration, have occurred periodically in Kenya. In the past 25 years, there were major food crises in 1962, 1966, 1974/5, 1980/1, and 1982–4. The government prevented the 1982–4 crisis from developing into a major famine (Cohen and Lewis 1987). Continuous relief has been provided in many of the famine‐prone areas, but this has by no means always been adequate or well targeted. For pastoralists, recovery from a major drought that (p.240) significantly reduces the livestock population takes many years. Migrant farmers and others farming semi‐arid lands may experience many years of seriously reduced crop production in addition to those officially recognized as years of famine.

The problem of arid areas is now receiving a good deal of attention in Kenya. It is not the main focus of this chapter, which concentrates instead on poverty in the smallholder agricultural areas. We now move on to discussing these in more detail.

7.3. Kenya's smallholder agricultural areas

General economic background

The main purpose of this section is to provide a characterization of the different smallholder agricultural areas in Kenya. We start with a brief description of the general economic context within which they operate.

Kenya's economy is heavily agricultural and smallholder agriculture is a major part of the agricultural sector. There is very little mining or mineral production, but tourism has been a significant source of foreign exchange. What has been happening in the manufacturing sector is very important for the smallholder agricultural areas. Manufacturing became increasingly significant in the 1960s and 1970s. Following a period of vigorous import substituting industrialization, it was making a contribution of between 12 and 14 per cent to GDP in the 1970s. Its rate of growth has slowed down considerably since (Sharpley and Lewis 1988). Much of the manufacturing is large‐scale modern manufacturing, concentrated in and around Nairobi and a few other urban centres. Traditional and smaller‐scale manufacturing activity, long discouraged in Kenya, is undoubtedly underenumerated but still relatively less important.

Despite the priority attached to the development of manufacturing, particularly in the 1960s and 1970s, Sharpley estimates that urban bias was mild over that period (Sharpley 1981). Urban growth contributed to agricultural growth as well as vice versa. The bias towards urban areas almost certainly became even less marked in the 1980s.

The contribution of agriculture to GDP in the 1970s varied from 30 to 40 per cent, depending on the world prices of its major exports. These were very high in the mid‐1970s. By the 1970s the relative shares of small farms and large farms in the value of gross marketed output stabilized at roughly equal amounts. The share of small farms in value added was higher than their share in marketed output however, so small farms were much more dominant in the agricultural sector in terms of value added and employment than the marketed output figures would suggest.

The overall performance of the Kenya economy was impressive in the 1960s and 1970s, and even in the 1980s, by sub‐Saharan African standards (Ghai (p.241) 1987). GDP growth averaged 6.2 per cent per annum at constant prices from 1964 to 1972, and 4.4 per cent a year from 1972 to 1981 (Republic of Kenya 1984). It slowed down a bit after that. Annual per capita GDP growth averaged 2.7 per cent in the earlier period, but only 0.6 per cent in the later one, and it became negative in the 1980s. Much of the GDP growth was based on agriculture, though manufacturing and services, including tourism, were also important.

Formal sector employment has been growing, though less rapidly than formal sector output, and less rapidly than the labour force. Smallholder agricultural areas still have to accommodate most of the increases in population for which Kenya is notorious.

Smallholder agriculture has been heavily emphasized since the 1950s. Transport is good by sub‐Saharan African standards, and marketing is quite well organized. Smallholder agricultural areas in Kenya are all relatively accessible, concentrated along the central axis running from the south‐east to the west and north‐west of the country. But differences in accessibility are a major part of the explanation of differences in performance. Transport is still a very major consideration in Kenya.

There is a large amount of labour migration, and given the low level of wages it is common for (male) labourers to leave their families in the rural areas so that they may continue to contribute to the family income. There is relatively little migration across international borders, although Uganda was important for western Kenya until the mid‐1970s. The loss of migration opportunities there has been an important factor in western Kenya.

The experience of Kenya's smallholder agricultural areas has been mixed. There are many aspects of the Kenya situation that are relatively favourable by sub‐Saharan African standards, but high and rapidly growing population densities make the situation much more difficult than it would otherwise be.

Differences in per capita wealth and income are quite large, as are differences in inequality and poverty. This is not only the result of differing access to the opportunities available in the national economy. It is also the result of factors operating within the smallholder agricultural areas themselves. Some are more dependent on agriculture than others, and some more on export crops than on food crops or livestock. Some are more dependent on non‐agricultural activities or on income generated outside. Factors such as these help to explain variations in performance with respect to poverty and deprivation, as will be seen later in this chapter.

The 1974/5 Integrated Rural Survey

The 1974/5 Integrated Rural Survey, henceforward IRS1, is one of the main sources of data used in this chapter. It was a relatively small survey, covering 1,668 smallholder agricultural households in the 6 of Kenya's 7 provinces in which there are smallholder agricultural areas, but it was unusually ambitious in scope and coverage for sub‐Saharan Africa and the first broad (p.242) comprehensive rural survey covering smallholder areas throughout Kenya. It was designed for disaggregation to the provincial or agroecological zone, not below. One could certainly do better if there were data at the district level, or below. But although there are some comprehensive district‐level figures, notably those from the child malnutrition survey of 1982, district‐level data are still generally sparse and weak. The major source of district‐level economic data is the 1982 Rural Household Budget Survey, results of which are still not available except in very summary form in the 1988 Economic Survey. Given this, there was no real alternative to the use of provincial level figures for the purposes of this paper. Provinces are large and heterogeneous, but there is some sense in which regional economies are contained broadly within provincial boundaries. There are substantial barriers to movement across the ethnic boundaries with which many of the provincial boundaries coincide. There are also a number of other distinctive features characterizing the different provinces' interaction with the larger economy.

Map 7.1 shows the provincial distribution of smallholder agricultural areas. The 6 provinces in which smallholder agriculture is important are: Central, Eastern, Nyanza, Western, Rift Valley, and Coast. The smallholder agricultural areas are relatively compact. It is only in Rift Valley and Central Province that large farm areas are at all widely interspersed with smallholder agricultural areas. The smallholder agricultural areas contain small towns and market centres, not covered by the rural survey data. There are no real villages. Patterns of settlement have always been dispersed.

7 Poverty and Food Deprivation in Kenya's Smallholder Agricultural Areas

Map 7.1. Kenya smallholder agricultural areas, pastoral areas, former large farm areas, and game parks

Table 7.2 shows total area, population, and population density in the 6 Kenya provinces in which smallholder agriculture is important. Table 7.2 also shows the smallholder agricultural populations, household sizes, and household expenditure and income levels derived from IRS1 for 1974/5. The IRS sample is too small for accurate total population estimates. It overestimates the smallholder agricultural population considerably, as the table shows.

Table 7.2 Land area, population, and population density in 1969 and 1979 and smallholder population, mean expenditure, and mean income in 1974/5, in different provinces, Kenya

Hectares (000)

Hectares HPLEa (000)

Population (000)

Persons/ha

Persons/ha HPLEa

Smallholder agricultural population 1974/5

1969

1979

1969

1979

1969

1979

Persons (000)

House‐holds (000)

Mean household size

Mean expenditure (Kshs p.a. 1974/5)

Mean income per household (Kshs p.a. 1974/5)

Persons

Adult‐equivalents

Per household

Per capita

Central

1,317 (3)

912 (14)

1,676 (17)

2,346 (18)

1.27

1.78

1.84

2.57

2,290 (22)

330 (22)

6.95

4.94

4,473

644

4,241

Eastern

15,576 (36)

955 (15)

1,826 (19)

2,578 (19)

0.12

0.17

1.91

2.70

2,380 (23)

353 (24)

6.74

4.84

4,020

596

3,486

Rift

16,388 (38)

2,151 (33)

1,958 (20)

2,948 (22)

0.12

0.18

0.91

1.37

674 (7)

90 (6)

7.51

5.35

3,426

456

4,577

Coast

8,304 (19)

568 (9)

698 (7)

977 (8)

0.08

0.12

1.23

1.76

562 (5)

70 (5)

8.04

5.89

3,139

390

3,325

Western

820 (2)

741 (11)

1,328 (14)

1,833 (14)

1.62

2.23

1.79

2.48

1,893 (18)

255 (17)

7.44

5.42

2,808

377

2,494

Nyanza

1,253 (3)

1,225 (19)

2,122 (22)

2,644 (20)

1.69

2.11

1.73

2.16

2,542 (25)

386 (26)

6.58

4.95

2,546

387

3,911

All provinces

43,658 (101)

6,552 (101)

9,608 (99)

13,346 (101)

0.22

0.31

1.47

2.04

10,341 (100)

1,486 (100)

6.97

5.06

3,450

495

3,652

(a) Percentages in brackets.

Note: HPLE: High potential land equivalents.

Sources: Livingstone (1986); Republic of Kenya (1977a).

There are well‐known problems in using statistics based on households. Problems of data omission resulting from recording at the household level are probably the most serious for our purposes. Variations in household size and composition are less of a problem as much of what follows focuses only on the relative importance of different components of household income and expenditure.

The IRS1 sample did not include landless households in the smallholder agricultural areas. Their numbers were estimated in the 1976/7, 1977/8, and 1978/9 surveys (IRS2–4) as shown in Table 7.3. The estimates vary considerably from survey to survey, the total for all provinces from 14 per cent to 22 per cent. The landless include rich as well as poor households. In Kenya the incidence of poverty among landless households is not dissimilar to the incidence among landed households (Livingstone 1986).

Table 7.3 Percentages of households landless in different provinces in Kenya, 1976/7, 1977/8, 1978/9

Central

Eastern

Rift

Coast

Western

Nyanza

All

IRS2 (1976/7)

10.3

8.9

17.6

27.0

8.2

16.6

13.7

IRS3 (1977/8)

16.6

19.2

28.0

20.3

6.6

16.6

17.9

IRS4 (1978/9)

21.8

19.7

36.8

29.0

8.7

15.8

21.6

Source: Republic of Kenya (1981).

The other main group excluded from IRS1 was households with farms of 20 hectares and over. Their numbers were estimated in IRS4 in 1978/9 at 53,000, (p.243) (p.244) (p.245) and they were mostly located in Rift, Eastern, and Nyanza Provinces (Republic of Kenya 1981).

Central Province

Central Province is the rich, fertile, highland area bordering on the northern edge of Nairobi, that dominates people's thinking on Kenya's smallholder agricultural areas. It is typical of a relatively well‐endowed agricultural area serving a large urban area nearby. Important also are its neighbouring large farms and estates. It benefits from the urban and estate markets for agricultural produce, the commuting possibilities, and many of the advantages offered by access to the centre of power and influence. It has long had a relatively large share of government expenditure. It is the success story among Kenya's smallholder agricultural areas from the mid‐1950s to the 1980s.

In Central Province, the interaction between the national and the local economy has enabled per capita incomes to rise in a situation of rapidly increasing population densities. But Central Province is not that far ahead of other provinces, and average income is only about twice the income associated with the poverty line. Furthermore, success has been accompanied by a continuing high incidence of poverty as will be seen in the next section.

Central Province shares with the smallholder agricultural areas in most other provinces in Kenya high levels of labour migration (Table 7.4). It also has the unusual advantage of high levels of relatively lucrative employment for commuters from smallholder agricultural areas.

Table 7.4 1979 province of enumeration by province of origin, Kenya (%)

Province of enumeration

Province of origin

Central

Eastern

Rift

Coast

Western

Nyanza

All

Nairobi

6

4

1

2

5

4

5

Central

82

2

2

1

1

1

15

Eastern

1

91

0

1

0

0

18

Rift

9

1

95

1

8

5

21

Coast

1

2

0

96

1

2

9

Western

0

0

1

0

82

1

12

Nyanza

0

0

1

0

2

87

17

North‐Eastern

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

Total

99

100

100

101

99

100

99

Total no. (m.)

2.6

2.9

2.8

1.2

2.1

2.9

15.3

Net migration as % 1979 population

−11.7

−6.4

+14.8

+13.0

−15.7

−10.1

Source: Republic of Kenya (n.d.).

Table 7.5 shows the proportion of household income derived from different sources in different provinces. There are some problems with the figures here. A later set of figures from the 1982 Household Budget Survey is available in the Economic Survey 1988, and this is a helpful check on the plausibility of the figures in Table 7.5. The figures for Rift Valley, Central, Eastern, and Western Provinces look fairly robust, set against those of the 1982 Household Budget Survey, but those for Coast and Nyanza look much less so. More generally, it has been suggested (ILO 1982), from a comparison with national income figures, that IRS1 underestimates income from agriculture. Kongstad and Monsted (1980) have suggested that it underestimates income from non‐farm business activities too. It is important to bear these points in mind in using the (p.246) figures as a framework for the discussion of the structure of income in smallholder agricultural areas in the different provinces.

Table 7.5 Sources of income per smallholder household in different provinces, Kenya, 1974/5

Farm operating surplus

Non‐farm operating surplus

Regular employment

Casual employment

Remittances

Other gifts

Total

Kshs

%

Kshs

%

Kshs

%

Kshs

%

Kshs

%

Kshs

%

Kshs

%

Central

2,120

50

326

8

921

22

365

9

393

9

117

3

4,241

101

Eastern

1,911

55

491

14

368

11

353

10

300

9

62

2

3,486

101

Rift

3,086

67

303

6

796

17

135

3

163

4

94

2

4,577

99

Coast

828

25

626

19

449

14

474

14

829

25

117

4

3,325

101

Western

1,186

47

126

5

559

22

165

7

407

16

50

2

2,494

99

Nyanza

2,789

71

365

9

415

11

108

3

178

5

57

1

3,911

100

All

2,081

57

354

10

566

16

252

7

324

9

75

2

3,652

101

Source: Republic of Kenya (1977a).

Remittances and regular employment earnings together provided Central Province smallholder agricultural households with an estimated 31 per cent of their income in 1974/5 (Table 7.5), a figure that seems plausible. A substantial amount of outside employment income is invested in the smallholder agricultural areas, mainly in agriculture which contributed 50–60 per cent to income in 1974/5. Central Province has good agricultural resources that provide the basis for the production of high‐value export crops, and also for relatively high‐value food crops for the nearby markets in Nairobi, smaller Central Province towns, and estates. Central Province is one of the most ‘export’ or ‘cash‐crop’1 oriented of the smallholder agricultural areas in Kenya (Table 7.6). The fact that there was a high level of government expenditure on roads, starting in the 1950s, helps to make the agricultural produce markets more lucrative. The relatively good transport and distribution system also helps in making inputs widely and relatively cheaply available. Smallholder agriculture is relatively commercialized in Central Province which has high (p.247) (p.248) (p.249) levels of expenditure on purchased inputs compared with other smallholder agricultural areas in Kenya (Table 7.7).

Table 7.6 Composition of sales of agricultural output per household in different provinces, Kenya, 1974/5

Food crops

Export crops

Cattle (net)

Other livestock (net)

Milk

Total

Sales as % of total output

Kshs

%

Kshs

%

Kshs

%

Kshs

%

Kshs

%

Kshs

%

Central

369

24.7

411

27.6

218

14.6

122

8.2

371

24.9

1,491

100.0

47.5

Eastern

421

31.6

337

25.3

299

22.4

134

10.0

143

10.7

1,334

100.0

53.6

Rift

475

24.9

115

6.0

577

30.3

260

13.6

479

25.1

1,906

99.9

47.2

Coast

168

30.6

2

154

28.1

99

18.0

126

23.0

549

99.7

45.0

Western

291

52.9

20

3.6

136

24.7

42

7.6

61

11.1

550

99.9

36.2

Nyanza

994

84.0

192

16.2

−161

−13.6

10

0.8

149

12.6

1,184

100.0

38.2

All

528

44.3

231

19.4

143

12.0

88

7.4

201

16.9

1,192

100.0

44.8

Source: Republic of Kenya (1978).

Table 7.7 Expenditure per household on purchased inputs and wage labour in different provinces, Kenya, 1974/5

Crop inputs (Kshs)

Livestock expenses (Kshs)

Wages (Kshs)

% of farm operating surplus

Crop inputs

Livestock expenses

Wages

Total

Central

271

156

227

13

7

11

31

Eastern

202

34

149

11

2

8

20

Rift

391

162

284

13

5

9

27

Coast

31

2

242

4

29

33

Western

96

16

119

8

1

10

20

Nyanza

137

3

99

5

4

9

All

185

56

161

9

3

8

20

Source: Republic of Kenya (1977a).

Investment in Central Province agriculture has been cumulating significantly particularly since the Swynnerton Plan was introduced in the 1950s. Central Province now has a relatively good stock of agricultural capital in the form of tree crops (coffee and tea), high‐quality livestock, etc. What is perhaps surprising is that mean farm operating surplus is not higher as compared with that of other provinces. This is partly a reflection of the alternative opportunities available to Central Province people, but it also reflects the density of population on agricultural resources.

IRS1 suggests that there is relatively less non‐agricultural business activity in Central Province than in other smallholder agricultural areas. Although this may in part be a statistical artefact (the figures from the 1982 Household Budget Survey suggest that Central Province is much more like other areas in this respect), it would not be surprising if a large proportion of consumer goods needs were met from outside Central Province smallholder agricultural areas because of the relatively good agricultural opportunities, and the relatively well‐developed transport and distribution system. Another factor could be the degree of urbanization within Central Province itself.

The proximity of outside employment opportunities makes an important contribution to Central Province smallholder agricultural areas. This makes it possible for wage and salary earners, and businessmen, to maintain an involvement in their smallholdings, providing the opportunity to oversee investments and increasing the incentive to invest in them. Whether, or for how long, this will continue is an interesting question. It is possible that Central Province people involved in employment or self‐employment outside the rural areas may get more detached from the rural areas over time, and that (p.250) they may gradually relocate their families in the process. But as of the late 1980s, there is little to suggest that this is happening. There are strong incentives to keep families in the rural areas maintaining family smallholdings, and making substantial contributions to family income in the process. Schools, housing, and access to health services are better in Central Province smallholder agricultural areas than those to which most of these families would have access in Nairobi or elsewhere. Further, retirement in Central Province rural areas still provides a more attractive alternative for many than retirement outside. This makes it likely that there will be a continuation of reasonable prosperity in Central Province smallholder agricultural areas, as they continue to provide homes for families of those involved in the wider economy, places of retirement for outside income earners, and a basis for productive activities that continue to feed on the proximity of the urban and estate economy and to some extent also the local prosperity with which this is associated. The continuing prosperity of the urban and estate economy is crucial. If it is not maintained, then Central Province will become more congested in relation to the resources that have been built up there. There are some signs that this is happening in the 1980s already.

Despite all this, however, average incomes in Central Province do not appear to be as high as those in Rift Valley smallholder areas, nor do they appear to be much higher than in smallholder agricultural areas in other parts of the country. A lot of wealth has been going out as well as coming in: people are using Central Province as a base from which to make investments elsewhere too.

There are parallels all over sub‐Saharan Africa in the relatively well‐endowed agricultural areas near major centres of economic activity. Each has its own particular features, but the benefits to a relatively well‐endowed agricultural area of a growing urban population nearby, bringing market opportunities, employment opportunities, and other opportunities of a less tangible kind, enabling the rural areas to sustain increasing populations at higher standards of living, are something that is repeated throughout sub‐Saharan Africa. There are many examples, and one always has to remember that they are by no means typical of smallholder areas in general: only of those particularly well located and often also particularly visible.

Eastern Province

Eastern Province is much more diverse ecologically than Central Province and combines rich, fertile, hill areas with extensive drier lowland areas, east and north‐east of Nairobi. It has nearly as high smallholder agricultural incomes as Central Province if we are to believe IRS1 (and the 1982 HHBS figures published in the Economic Survey in 1988), despite the fact that it has less favourable agricultural resources. Its population is more dispersed. It is considerably further away from Nairobi than much of Central Province which greatly reduces its commuting possibilities. However it has more links with (p.251) Mombasa and with the tourist industry, and it has a long tradition of trade and business activity. This is an area with rather mixed agricultural resources, supplemented by substantial trade and business incomes, and substantial income from migration. Furthermore, it is reasonably commercialized. It does not have the commuter incomes of Central Province, nor the very nearby urban markets, but it does have reasonably good access to markets a little further away.

Remittances were responsible for a similar percentage of the income of smallholders in Eastern Province smallholder agricultural areas to that in Central Province in 1974/5, but the absolute amounts were lower. Outside employment income was considerably lower. Remittances and outside employment earnings together amounted to little over 20 per cent of Eastern Province income in 1974/5 (Table 7.5).

Agriculture was responsible for 55–65 per cent of income. It is perhaps surprising that, despite a considerable proportion of lower‐potential land, agricultural incomes were as high as they were, but population densities are not as high in Eastern Province as in Central. Eastern Province smallholders have invested a large amount in coffee and tea: this is reflected in relatively high incomes from export crops in 1974/5 (Table 7.6). There are more low‐quality cattle, and there is more ‘food’ production in Eastern Province than in Central. Further, Eastern Province smallholder agriculture is considerably less commercialized than that of Central Province. Its use of purchased inputs is relatively low (Table 7.7).

Non‐agricultural activity was bringing in a substantial amount of Eastern Province smallholder income in 1974/5. This was partly serving the local market (Table 7.8). It was also serving national and international markets. Eastern Province produces craft products, mainly baskets and woodcarvings, that sell well to tourists and as direct exports. It also has a long tradition of trade with other parts of Kenya, in tobacco among other things. Table 7.8 suggests a high degree of involvement in internal as well as external trade and business.

Table 7.8 Percentage of smallholdings engaged in different types of non‐agricultural activity in different provinces, Kenya, 1976/7

Central

Eastern

Rift

Coast

Western

Nyanza

All

Services of which

14.0

26.2

10.9

25.0

21.4

14.7

17.8

Transport

4.3

6.5

2.3

4.2

.8

3.3

Hotels, etc.

3.9

10.0

1.7

2.1

4.7

4.5

Trade of which

7.3

8.0

5.9

6.4

12.1

13.7

9.3

Shops

3.4

4.0

3.2

0.8

5.0

3.8

3.7

Butchers

1.1

1.9

2.0

0.8

2.5

2.1

1.9

Petty trade

0.3

0.2

0.4

1.6

2.8

1.6

1.0

Repairs of which

3.1

8.2

2.5

3.2

6.2

8.9

5.4

Clothing

1.4

1.5

0.9

0.9

2.5

1.4

Bicycle

1.3

0.4

1.6

0.3

1.2

0.8

Furniture

0.8

1.9

0.4

0.9

2.1

1.2

Shoes

1.9

0.2

0.8

1.5

1.2

1.0

Building

0.8

9.4

0.8

2.4

4.6

6.9

4.7

Pottery

1.0

0.2

0.8

0.9

5.4

1.7

Metal products

1.7

1.0

0.7

0.8

1.2

1.6

1.2

Food, beverages, tobacco manufacture of which

5.9

18.3

20.5

24.2

25.1

36.5

22.3

Beer brewing

3.4

5.9

15.0

2.4

17.6

26.0

13.4

Resource extraction of which

2.5

14.5

10.0

9.7

14.0

17.5

12.1

Wood cutting

1.1

3.4

5.9

4.0

4.5

3.7

Fishing

0.3

0.2

4.0

4.6

5.4

2.2

Wood products of which

11.8

17.0

11.2

6.4

14.0

16.9

14.0

Charcoal

6.7

7.2

7.3

1.6

4.0

6.0

6.1

Furniture

2.0

1.3

0.9

0.8

2.5

1.4

1.5

Calabashes

0.3

3.0

1.6

2.8

5.8

2.7

Saw mills

1.7

0.2

0.4

0.3

0.8

0.6

Plant, animal fibre products of which

4.2

19.6

13.2

21.0

6.8

12.2

12.4

Mats, bags, clothes

1.9

12.1

0.2

16.6

2.4

6.6

5.7

Textile and clothes

2.0

6.3

5.0

4.0

3.4

4.2

4.3

Hides and skins

0.4

5.9

0.3

0.6

1.4

TOTALS

41.4

123.0

74.9

99.9

106.3

134.3

100.9

Note: many households recorded more than one activity each, or none, so percentages do not add to 100.

Source: Republic of Kenya (1977c).

In many ways Eastern Province appears to be in a much less favourable position than Central Province. It is hardly surprising that its income per household is lower. It has generally poorer agricultural resources, less good transport and infrastructure, and less easy access to Nairobi. Within its constraints, however, it seems to do quite well, on average. Yet it still has relatively high levels of poverty, as will be seen in the next section. Conditions vary enormously from one part of the province to another: parts of Eastern Province still suffer from severe food shortages and even famine in some years.

Western Province

Western Province is one of the poorest of the smallholder agricultural areas, and it was, until the late 1970s at least, a classic labour reserve. It is a highland area adjacent to the Uganda border and rather far from Nairobi or other major centres of economic activity except the former large farm areas to the north and (p.252) (p.253) west. There has been a high level of labour migration (Table 7.4). Remittance income formed a very important component of total income in 1974/5 (Table 7.5). Regular employment, much of it in the nearby large farm sector, contributed an income that was higher than in Nyanza, Coast, or Eastern, but not as high as in Rift or Central Provinces. Remittance and regular employment income together made up 38 per cent of total income in 1974/5 according to IRS1.

The relatively large remittance and employment earnings from outside appeared to be financing consumption as much as investment in Western Province in the mid‐1970s. In this sense Western Province appeared to be a classic example of a labour reserve, providing a place for migrant labourers' families to reside and contribute, relatively modestly, to family income. But the investment, and/or sufficient growth in outside income, that was needed to enable it to accommodate its increasing population was missing. This appears to have changed somewhat since, as suggested below.

The agricultural resource base in Western Province is not strong: population densities are high and markets are a problem. Western Province agriculture was based on rather low‐value products in 1974/5: only 4 per cent of the smallholders grew coffee and only 5 per cent tea (Table 7.9), and only 4 per cent of the value of marketed agricultural output came from high‐value export crops. Food crops contributed 53 per cent and livestock 43 per cent (Table 7.6). Western Province smallholders also used relatively little purchased inputs and hired labour (Table 7.7).

Table 7.9 Percentage of smallholders growing selected crops in different provinces, Kenya, 1974/5

Central

Eastern

Rift

Coast

Western

Nyanza

All

Tea

18

11

15

4

n/a

12

Coffee

45

44

5

1

5

21

27

Pyrethrum

8

7

16

18

9

Cotton

2

5

5

20

17

9

English potatoes

86

52

8

2

1

32

Local Maize

95

99

59

94

74

80

86

Hybrid Maize

67

30

92

19

73

36

50

Beans

98

86

22

28

79

39

69

Sorghum

1

16

1

2

37

75

30

Millet

19

51

45

33

24

Note: n/a = not available.

Source: Casley and Marchant (1978), derived from IRS1, reprinted in Livingstone (1986: Table 9.19).

Non‐agricultural activity in Western Province was providing very little income in 1974/5. Western Province appeared to be too far from markets for other products that might have been exported from the area; and there was too (p.254) low an income level within the area to support much activity serving local markets. In the mid‐1970s the non‐agricultural sector had the characteristics of a residual sector. It occupied a high percentage of the population (Table 7.8), but brought in only a very small proportion (5 per cent) of the income (Table 7.5). Much of this appears to have been changing recently.

It is not surprising to find signs of really high levels of poverty in Western Province in the 1970s, as will be seen in the next section, but this too may have been changing.

The distance of Western Province from centres of economic activity was an important factor, both from the point of view of markets and in making it less easy for people employed outside to keep an active and continuous involvement in their home areas. This appears to have been changing since the mid‐1970s though: there has been substantial investment in the area, including a huge paper mill and a large sugar factory; there has been a general increase in development expenditure in the area; and there has been a real boom in the neighbouring area to the north and north‐west in which Western Province people have played a major part. The Uganda situation which has made it possible for Western Province people to profit from black marketeering and smuggling may also have been a factor.

Nyanza Province

Nyanza Province, also in western Kenya, had one of the lowest recorded 1974/5 mean smallholder household expenditures according to IRS1, but by no means the lowest mean income. The IRS1 figures seem particularly problematic for Nyanza, but something can be said using other evidence as well.

In Nyanza agricultural income dominates, and the economy is relatively uncommercialized still. Nyanza has long been recognized as neglected in terms of government development expenditure (Table 7.10). This shows up in things like transport but extends to the whole range of government services crucial to agriculture and other economic activity. There are high levels of labour migration.

Table 7.10 Selected statistics on government expenditure and services in different provinces, Kenya

Expenditure per capita, 1973/4 (Kshs)

Health centres per m. population, 1975 (no.)

Dry‐season drinking water within 1 mile 1976 (% above + /below – national av.)

Adult literacy, 1982 (%)

Total recurrent

Development

Roads

Curative health

Secondary education

Male

Female

Central

9.7

9.7

0.50

0.53

15

+15

72

57

Eastern

6.4

4.9

0.64

0.20

9

−16

62

39

Rift

8.8

5.5

0.34

0.19

23

−3

53

30

Coast

13.1

6.3

0.97

0.25

6

−40

58

35

Western

4.1

4.7

0.18

0.23

19

+20

62

38

Nyanza

3.3

1.9

0.58

0.15

10

−4

54

29

Sources: Republic of Kenya (1977a, 1977d); Hazlewood (1979); Bigsten (1980).

Agriculture contributed a large proportion of income—over 70 per cent of total household income in 1974/5 if IRS1 is to be believed on this count (Table 7.5). It is dominated by food crops. Nyanza has long been a major source of food for other parts of Kenya. Livestock are important too, but relatively low quality only. Export crops were estimated to have contributed 16 per cent to total agricultural sales in 1974/5. They are concentrated in a few areas. Expenditures on purchased inputs and hired labour are both far lower than in any other smallholder agricultural area (Table 7.7).

Remittance income is almost certainly higher than the IRS1 figures suggest. The proportions of migrants are quite high and other estimates of remittances, including that of the 1982 Household Budget Survey, are much higher.

The fact that regular employment income is low is not surprising. There are (p.255) (p.256) relatively few commuting possibilities within reach of people living in Nyanza smallholder agricultural areas. Total earnings from remittances and regular employment income taken together were almost certainly responsible for a relatively low proportion of total income in 1974/5, though not as low as IRS1 suggests.

Income from non‐agricultural activity appears to be reasonable, supporting the local economy as much as anything (Table 7.8).

Nyanza is a relatively well‐endowed, still rather traditional economy, not integrated as much as others with the outside economy (although sales of food and export crops are important), and not very developed within.

It has rather high levels of poverty, and appalling levels of child mortality and child malnutrition as will be seen. These are not just the result of low income.

Rift Valley Province

Rift Valley smallholder agricultural areas are the richest of all, according to IRS1 which is almost certainly correct on this count. They are relatively far from Nairobi, but they border on the heart of the large farm area and benefit from its employment opportunities, its markets, and the proximity of its well‐developed infrastructure. Agricultural resources are exceptionally favourable by Kenya smallholder agricultural standards, and population densities are still relatively low, as is total population (Table 7.2). Rift Valley smallholder agricultural areas have benefited disproportionately from the opportunities for outmigration provided in the subdivision of the former large farm sector into small farm areas not included in IRS1 data. There is a fair amount of inmigration. Remittances are very low, but outside employment earnings are high. Contrary to those of Central Province, the outside employment earnings of Rift Valley smallholders nearly all come from employment on nearby large mixed farms. There are relatively few Rift Valley people working far from home (Table 7.4).

Some of the relatively plentiful outside income is invested in agriculture, less in export crops than in maize and livestock. Livestock contributed 69 per cent and food crops 25 per cent of the value of smallholder agricultural sales in 1974/5. Export crops only contributed 6 per cent (Table 7.6). Agricultural income per household is higher than in any other smallholder agricultural area and it completely dominates total income. Rift Valley smallholder agriculture is relatively commercialized. Smallholders use comparable levels of purchased inputs and hired labour to those in Central Province, and considerably more than those in any other province (Table 7.7). Here too, the Rift Valley smallholder agricultural economy benefits enormously from the proximity of the large farm sector.

Non‐agricultural activities appear to be rather unimportant among Rift Valley smallholders, although these may be underestimated (Kongstad and Monsted 1980). There appear to be higher proportions of the population (p.257) involved in beer brewing, wood cutting, and hides and skins production than in other areas, as one might expect in an area so rich in natural resources (Table 7.8).

Rift Valley smallholder agricultural areas are a good example of well‐endowed and reasonably well‐supported rural areas, if rather backward in some respects. These areas are accommodating their populations at reasonable income levels, but, as will be seen, poverty, malnutrition, and child mortality still appear to be quite serious.

Coast Province

Coast Province also has a relatively small smallholder agricultural population (Table 7.2). It extends over the large hinterland stretching inland from the area around Mombasa. It has decidedly poor agricultural resources, but benefits from its proximity to Mombasa and (with its beaches and its proximity to some of the more popular game parks) more generally from the tourist industry.

Remittances were almost certainly overestimated in the IRS1 survey, at 25 per cent of smallholder income (the much lower 1982 Household Budget Survey figure looks much more plausible). The high regular employment income figure was probably nearer the truth though. Agriculture appeared to contribute only 25–40 per cent of total income according to IRS1, depending on how much casual employment income is attributed to smallholder agriculture. This may be an underestimate, but there is very little export production and Coast smallholder agricultural products are generally low valued. There was relatively little government development expenditure in Coast smallholder agricultural areas until recently. Extremely low levels of purchased inputs are used in agriculture. There is a large amount of wage employment, however. Much of this seems to be associated with traditional production relations rather than modern commercialization (Parkin 1972).

Coast Province smallholders appeared to have relatively high non‐agricultural business incomes. This is partly due to the relatively poor agricultural opportunities, and partly to tourist and other local outlets for non‐agricultural business activities (Table 7.8).

Despite the relatively high incomes from employment and from non‐agricultural activities, Coast Province smallholders have average total incomes that are certainly much lower than those of smallholders in Central and Rift Valley Provinces, and probably lower than others as well. Coast malnutrition and child mortality figures are appalling as will be seen shortly.

Overall summary

The extent to which areas are dependent on agriculture, and within agriculture on exports; the extent to which non‐agricultural activities supplement agricultural ones, and what sorts of non‐agricultural activities; the extent to which members of smallholder households are involved in outside employment, locally or further afield; all contribute to differences in the levels of income and (p.258) expenditure attained in smallholder agricultural areas, as well as in the prospects for their future growth. They also make a difference to the inequality of wealth and incomes, and the incidence of poverty.

Central Province's ability to accommodate its rapidly increasing population is very closely related to the success of the national economy and also to conditions in the international markets for coffee and tea; the success of Rift Valley smallholder agricultural areas is much more closely related to the success of the large farm sector, and also to conditions in the national markets particularly for maize and livestock. Eastern Province and Coast Province are heavily dependent on tourism as well as other aspects of the national economy. Nyanza depends on its ability to continue to sell food, and to a lesser extent export crops. Western Province used to be critically dependent on outside employment opportunities but there are signs of more internal development now. Thus, it is partly a question of how well the national and international economy are doing, and the terms on which rural areas relate to these. It is also a question of what is going on internally. Government development expenditure is an important part of this.

Although mean smallholder agricultural household incomes and expenditures are higher in some provinces than in others, in all provinces they are rather low. The highest provincial mean household expenditure of smallholder households covered by IRS1 in 1974/5 was less than twice the lowest. Furthermore, the highest provincial mean household expenditure was only a little over twice that associated with the poverty line that has been defined for Kenya. This does not suggest that smallholder agricultural households in any area were doing well. It is not surprising that in all areas poverty is still a serious problem.

7.4. Food‐related poverty indicators for Kenya's smallholder agricultural areas in the 1970s

The links between different indicators

There are many different aspects of poverty that could be considered here. In this paper, the emphasis is on those for which evidence is available that are in some sense food‐related. These include poverty, food poverty, food intake, child malnutrition, and child mortality. The interrelationships between them are complex as Fig. 7.1 suggests.

7 Poverty and Food Deprivation in Kenya's Smallholder Agricultural Areas

Fig. 7.1. The links between food‐related poverty indicators

Fig. 7.1 shows the connections between different food‐related poverty indicators, some linked as much with public as with private expenditure. There are substantial ‘leakages’ and ‘injections’ at different stages. Starting near the top of Fig. 7.1, the relationship between household expenditure and household food expenditure depends on the relative priority attached to non‐food expenditure in the household. Food may be the most important component of expenditure in poor households, but expenditures on such (p.259) things as shelter, clothing, and health‐related goods and services are also vital, and there are many other claims on expenditure in poor households as well. Some of the non‐food elements of household expenditure may have as important an influence on nutritional status and mortality as food. In 1974/5, 75 per cent of the mean expenditure of Kenya's smallholder agricultural households was on food. (This may be an overestimate as non‐food subsistence does not appear to have been included in the expenditure total.) As has been found elsewhere, the percentage of expenditure on food varied surprisingly little between different income groups, although the absolute amounts varied substantially. Thus 25 per cent or more of the total expenditure of poor households went on non‐food items that compete strongly even at very low levels of income.

(p.260) The efficiency with which food expenditure is converted into food intake measured in calories is represented by the next link in the chain in Fig. 7.1. Low‐income groups spend higher proportions of their food budget on low‐cost calories. The proportion of expenditure represented by food may not change very much between income groups in Kenya, but more expensive calories are substituted for less expensive calories as income rises. This is shown clearly by Greer and Thorbecke (1986a) who estimate the relevant elasticities. Their estimates of calorie elasticities at poverty levels of expenditure in different provinces vary from 0.63 to 0.70. Their estimates of elasticities of expenditure on food at the same levels of expenditure vary from 0.88 to 1.17.

One of the more important distinctions in Fig. 7.1 is that between household and individual measures. Poverty and inadequate intake of food are measured at the household level. Nutritional status and mortality, however, are measured for individuals. Poor correlations between (individual) nutritional status and (household) food intake, or (individual) nutritional status and (household) poverty, could be explained by differences in distribution within the household. Likewise the differences between mortality and poverty. Furthermore, we know that nutritional status depends not only on food intake, but also on such things as health and demographic status, activity rates, feeding and cooking practices, and health care. Public expenditure may be as important as private expenditure, and public expenditure may not be very closely correlated with private expenditure.

The final link in Fig. 7.1 might be between malnutrition and mortality. Mortality is not very closely related to nutritional status however. Somewhat different health variables seem to be involved in each case.

Factors such as those suggested in Fig. 7.1 complicate the relationships between different aspects of poverty and between different estimates of these. Many of them have to be seen against a background of seasonal and year‐to‐year fluctuations that are poorly captured by available data. Kenya is no exception here.

Expenditure and income poverty

Tables 7.11, 7.12, and 7.13 show the different estimates of inadequate food intake, child malnutrition, and child mortality for the different provinces. The estimated incidences of income (and expenditure) poverty are also shown in Table 7.11. The most widely used estimates of poverty in Kenya are the income poverty estimates, despite the fact that income includes many transient elements in any particular year. In IRS1, nearly 7 per cent of the households were recorded as having negative incomes in 1974/5. These reflect such things as losses from the death of livestock and poor crop yields, events that can easily affect particular households in any one year. The households with negative income in IRS1 were not on the whole poor: they had a relatively high expenditure profile. They are not therefore counted as poor for the purpose of estimating income poverty. The other major problem with the income poverty (p.261) (p.262) estimates is that they are not adjusted for household size and composition. This means that they underestimate poverty in Coast, Rift, and Western Provinces relative to Nyanza, Central, and Eastern where household sizes are smaller.

Table 7.11 Incidence of poverty and food poverty among smallholders in different provinces, Kenya, 1974/5 (% households)

Poverty

Food poverty (Greer and Thorbecke 1986a)

Severity of poverty index (Greer and Thorbecke 1986a)

Inadequate food intake (Fischer and Shah 1985)

Household income <Kshs 2,000

Household expenditure <Kshs 400/AEa

Central

22

10

33

0.028

14

Eastern

35

22

32

0.026

18

Rift

19

37

45

0.039

33

Coast

31

36

42

0.046

26

Western

50

34

46

0.037

36

Nyanza

38

37

41

0.039

32

All

34

29

39

0.034

27

(a:) AE = Adult Equivalent

Sources: Republic of Kenya (1977a); Greer and Thorbecke (1986a); Fischer and Shah (1985).

Table 7.12 Childrena less than 90% height for age, smallholder agricultural areas in different provinces, Kenya, 1977, 1978/9, 1982

Nutrition Survey 1 (1977)

Nutrition Survey 2 (1978/9)

Nutrition Survey 3 (1982)

%

Mean

%

Mean

%

Mean

Central

26

93.6

21

94.5

24

94.0

Eastern

34

92.8

24

94.6

27

93.3

Rift

25

94.0

24

94.2

22

94.9

Coast

(14)

(96.3)

40

92.9

39

92.2

Western

16

95.0

24

94.0

29

92.9

Nyanza

21

94.7

34

93.6

33

93.4

All

24

94.1

27

94.5

28

93.6

(a) 1977: 12–48 months; 1978/9: 6–60 months; 1982: 3–60 months.

Source: Republic of Kenya (1983).

Table 7.13 Estimates of child survival, life expectancy, and child mortality in different provinces, Kenya, 1969 and 1979

1969

1979: no. dying in 1st 5 years per 1,000 live births

% of births surviving to age 3 years

Life expectancy at birth (years)

Central

89

60.1

85

Eastern

84

49.8

128

Rift

87

54.1

132

Coast

80

43.4

206

Western

80

43.5

187

Nyanza

75

38.6

220

Nairobi

89

56.8

104

Sources: Anker and Knowles (1977); Republic of Kenya (n.d.).

Greer and Thorbecke (1986a) estimated expenditure poverty using an adult‐equivalent standard. This is also shown in Table 7.11. The trouble with this measure, as also with the income measure, is that it does not allow for differences in costs of living between provinces. These are quite large, particularly where food is concerned.

‘Food poverty’

Greer and Thorbecke's estimates of ‘food poverty’ are also shown in Table 7.11. A household is deemed to be ‘food‐poor’ if its total food expenditure is less than that required to purchase what is defined as ‘an adequate diet’ for its members. The ‘adequate diet’ is defined as the normal diet around the poverty level in each case. This is thus a measure of the willingness of a household to allocate enough of its budget to food, and its capability, given its total food budget, to be adequately fed, rather than whether it is actually adequately fed. It does not take account of the possibility that food expenditure is more inefficient in some households than in others, or that it may be poorly distributed among the members of the household.

Greer and Thorbecke (1986a), in a very careful exercise, used observed regional diets around the poverty line for their estimates. The diets that were normal around the levels consistent with the consumption of the relevant number of calories varied considerably in cost between provinces. This reflected differences in prices but also differences in the quality of the diet regarded as normal around the poverty level. Greer and Thorbecke did a number of estimates based on slightly different assumptions in these and other (p.263) respects. These showed their provincial rankings of food poverty, reproduced in Table 7.11, to be robust.

Greer and Thorbecke also provided an estimate of the severity of food poverty which is reproduced in Table 7.11. They defined this as the sum of the squared deviations of the food expenditure of the food‐poor from the poverty level, normalized over the number of households concerned. This is equivalent to a weighted sum of the food expenditure gaps of food‐poor households, the weights being equal to the expenditure gaps in each case. Thus, households with large deficits have a significantly greater influence on the index than households whose deficits are small. The absolute numbers are difficult to interpret, but the rankings are just as interesting for our purposes as the rankings of the incidence of food poverty. Central and Eastern Provinces have the lowest proportions of households suffering food poverty, and also the lowest extent of shortfall suffered by food‐poor households. Rift and Western Provinces may have the highest proportions of food‐poor households, but they rank similarly to Nyanza where the severity of food poverty is concerned. It is Coast Province which has the most severe shortfall in total, although it does not rank quite so low on the proportion suffering from food poverty. Coast Province must be regarded as the most seriously affected by food poverty on this count.

The food poverty ranking is different from the income and expenditure poverty ranking, in that Central Province does not seem much better off than Eastern Province as far as food poverty is concerned; Rift, Western, and Nyanza all seem fairly similar, although in Nyanza a smaller proportion of households is affected; and Coast looks very much the worst off if the severity of poverty is taken to be the more significant measure. A comparison between expenditure poverty and food poverty figures makes it look as if non‐food expenditure is a particularly high priority in Central and Coast Provinces, and a particularly low priority in Western Province, compared with other provinces. It might be dangerous to make too much of this, however, without investigating it further.

Food intake

Fischer and Shah (1985) estimated the adequacy of household food intake. In their measure the efficiency of the conversion of food expenditure into calories is taken into account (but not the efficiency of the distribution between household members). They took IRS1 household food intake figures and compared them with FAO/WHO 1973 age‐ and sex‐specific requirements for a moderately active population, the highest adult male requirement for which was 2,440, and female 1,840, calories per day. Households with intakes less than 60 per cent of their total requirements, given their age‐ and sex‐specific composition, were defined as poor.

The provincial rankings of poverty obtained by Fischer and Shah are similar to those obtained by Greer and Thorbecke. The differences are that Rift (p.264) appears on a par with Nyanza, but Western much worse; that Coast appears considerably better than Western, Nyanza, and Rift; and that Central appears considerably better than Eastern at the other extreme. It is quite difficult to accept Fischer and Shah's rankings, however. They try to capture variations in the efficiency with which food expenditure is converted into calories among households around the food poverty level, but in doing so they have to accept food intake figures which are unreliable (Fischer and Shah 1985).

Child malnutrition

We next consider the estimates of the incidence of child malnutrition in 1977, 1978/9, and 1982. Malnutrition estimates are only available for children in the 0 to 5 years age group, not for adults or for children of other ages. The percentage of children aged 1 to 4 years who were less than 90 per cent of the height for age of the reference population, shown in Table 7.12 for the different provinces, is the measure that is most relevant here. Estimates of height for age, weight for age, and weight for height are all available. However, wasting is less of a problem than stunting in Kenya. Furthermore, stunting reflects relatively longer‐term problems of undernourishment which are more relevant to our concerns in this chapter. This justifies a concentration on height for age indicators.

There were serious problems with sampling at the Coast in the 1977 survey, so the Coast figure for that year should be ignored. Drought biased the 1977 Eastern Province figure downwards, but drought is a reality that needs to be taken seriously in discussions of malnutrition. The Western Province figure that appears high in 1977 is significant. Preliminary investigations of relevant cohorts of children suggest that there was a real increase in child malnutrition in Western Province between 1977 and 1982 (Test et al. n.d.).

It is difficult to make serious comparisons between provinces when the estimates from the different surveys range so widely for each province: indeed the differences between surveys are often greater than the differences between provinces. The figures do suggest, however, that the nutritional status of children is relatively better in smallholder areas of Central, Rift, and Western Provinces, and relatively worse in Nyanza, Coast, and Eastern. These rankings are different from the poverty and food poverty rankings.

One would not expect the estimated incidence of child malnutrition to correlate well with household poverty or food poverty measures partly because intrahousehold distribution varies between areas. Cultural traditions concerning the care of children, the priority attached to their well‐being, and the well‐being of their mothers, can vary enormously. This is an important subject, beyond the scope of this paper. As important may be other factors that influence malnutrition more generally, in particular health and disease. It is striking in Kenya that the incidence of child malnutrition is so much higher in Coast and in Nyanza than in other provinces. These are the two provinces in which the underlying health environment is particularly bad: malaria is (p.265) endemic and water‐borne gastro‐intestinal and other diseases are widespread. The poor quality and availability of health services and water supplies are important contributory factors. Female education may also be important. In Coast Province this has been particularly neglected, although this is not the case in Nyanza. Eastern Province also has a high incidence of child malnutrition. This may reflect its poor health record, but in this case there may also be a closer connection with intermittent food deprivation not reflected in the 1974/5 food poverty estimates.

A comparison of the estimated incidences of child malnutrition with the estimated incidences of household poverty and food poverty, in the different provinces, shows that Western Province has a much better record on child malnutrition than one would expect judging from its poverty record (although not so much better than its food poverty record would suggest). Rift looks as good as Central Province on child malnutrition, much better than its food poverty record (and substantially better also than its poverty record) would lead one to expect. Nyanza's record is perhaps not quite as bad on poverty and food poverty as on malnutrition, but it is not good on any. Coast Province, on the other hand, looks as bad on malnutrition as the worst of its poverty and food poverty estimates suggest. Eastern Province looks much worse on malnutrition than its poverty and food poverty estimates might suggest, but this is primarily because its 1977 malnutrition figure is so bad. Central Province, which is ahead on so many of the poverty indicators, does not stand out where child malnutrition is concerned. Indeed, child malnutrition appears surprisingly high in Central Province. Child malnutrition is not at all closely linked with income poverty, expenditure poverty, or even food intake estimates. This is consistent with micro‐level evidence on the role of health and other factors.

Child mortality and life expectancy

Some life expectancy and child mortality figures based on the 1969 and 1979 Population Censuses are shown in Table 7.12. These apply to provinces as a whole, not just their smallholder agricultural areas. Although substantial additional populations are involved, and in Rift and Eastern Provinces these include some of the poorest populations in Kenya, the additional populations are not large enough for the rankings of the different provinces to be affected. Central, Eastern, and Rift Valley Provinces all appear considerably better off, as far as child mortality is concerned, than Western, Coast, or Nyanza. The biggest surprise here is perhaps Western Province. Although Western Province had a relatively better record on child malnutrition, its child mortality incidence is relatively high. The health factors associated with a high incidence of child mortality are different from those associated with high levels of child malnutrition. This must be particularly important in Western Province. The high incidences of child mortality evident in Nyanza and Coast Provinces are not so surprising, although the ranking between the two is the opposite of that (p.266) which one would have expected, suggesting again that somewhat different factors are responsible for high incidences of child mortality on the one hand and high incidences of child malnutrition on the other.

The ranking of the different provinces on these different indicators of deprivation is summarized in Table 7.14.

Table 7.14 Summary of provincial rankings on some food‐related poverty and deprivation indicators in Kenya

Rank

Mean household income (Kshs p.a.)

Mean household expenditure (Kshs p.a.)

Income poverty (% households)

Expenditure poverty (% households)

Incidence of food poverty (% households)

Severity of food poverty index

Inadequate food intake (% households)

Child malnutrition, 1977–82 av. (% households)

Child mortality 1979 (0–5 years 1,000)

1

Rift

Central

Rift

Central

Eastern

Eastern

Central

Western

Central

4,577

4,473

19

10

32

0.026

14

23

85

2

Central

Eastern

Central

Eastern

Central

Central

Eastern

Central

Eastern

4,241

4,020

22

22

33

0.028

18

24

128

3

Nyanza

Rift

Coast

Western

Nyanza

Western

Coast

Rift

Rift

3,911

3,426

31

34

41

0.037

26

24

132

4

Eastern

Coast

Eastern

Coast

Coast

Rift

Nyanza

Eastern

Western

3,486

3,139

35

36

42

0.039

32

28

187

5

Coast

Western

Nyanza

Rift

Rift

Nyanza

Rift

Nyanza

Coast

3,325

2,808

38

37

45

0.039

33

29

206

6

Western

Nyanza

Western

Nyanza

Western

Coast

Western

Coast

Nyanza

2,494

2,546

50

37

46

0.046

36

40

220

Central Province is clearly ahead of all other provinces taking all the indicators together. Eastern Province comes a close second to Central Province except on child malnutrition, which is greatly influenced by the high 1977 figure. At the other extreme, Western Province comes out clearly worst on most indicators, although good on child malnutrition and not as bad as Nyanza or Coast on child mortality. It does not look so bad on severity of poverty either. Nyanza comes out quite badly on most indicators, particularly badly on child mortality and child malnutrition, but also badly on expenditure poverty and the severity of food poverty. Coast comes out similarly to Nyanza. It does not appear to have quite such a bad record on expenditure poverty, but Nyanza's high figure is suspect here. Rift Valley looks above average, with particularly good income and child nutrition figures.

Thus, to the extent that an overall ranking might be legitimate, it would put provinces in the following order: (1) Central, (2) Eastern, (3) Rift, (4) Coast, (5) Nyanza, (6) Western. Western might however have a claim to be placed above Coast and Nyanza on the basis of its better child malnutrition and mortality figures.

It would clearly be valuable to consider these interrelationships further. Food may be less important than health, in the Kenyan context. Likewise private expenditure may not be as important as public. Some of the worst aspects of poverty in Kenya may be more easily eliminated through public expenditure programmes than through programmes designed to increase the individual or household incomes of those below the poverty line. But the inadequacy of household income is an important problem and one that must contribute significantly to acute deprivation. The question pursued in the next section is what makes Central and Eastern Provinces better off on these food‐related indicators than Western, Nyanza, and the Coast, and what puts Rift in an intermediate position?

7.5. The relative positions of smallholder agricultural areas

The questions addressed here are: in what conditions can population pressure be accommodated without increasing poverty? In what conditions might a decrease in subsistence production be associated with an increase in poverty? In what conditions does export cropping lead to a decrease in poverty? And what is the role of non‐agricultural incomes in smallholder agricultural areas?

(p.267)

(p.268) Population pressure

There is a marked diversity in Kenya in rural areas' relative success or failure in accommodating increased population pressure. The intensification of agricultural production is (obviously) often a key to success. This may come about through improved market opportunities which raise the value of agricultural products as much as through technical change. Rural non‐agricultural activities can also be crucial: what is important is their ability to compete successfully with outside supplies of goods and services in meeting local demand, and/or to form the basis for successful exports. Then there are the opportunities for rural people to earn income outside the rural areas. There has been some debate in the literature on remittances as to whether outside employment has a positive or negative effect on the areas of origin of employees (Rempel and Lobdell 1978). It obviously depends on the circumstances. When there are profitable opportunities in the rural areas for the investment of remittances or other earnings from outside employment, outside employment can play a very positive role. The use of the earnings from migration to supplement consumption in the home areas can also help to enhance investment opportunities, but it is important that earnings finance investment as well as consumption. Outside employment can be a drain on the area of origin if too much of the labour force migrates and not enough earnings are ploughed back into the area of origin. When the circumstances are right, then, outside employment can contribute greatly in getting income to increase faster than population, even in areas that are already densely populated. Its role is not always so positive, however.

In Kenya, smallholder agricultural areas in Central and Eastern Provinces appear to have been able to accommodate high and increasing population pressures relatively successfully by increasing agricultural production for the market, by developing non‐agricultural activities, and by putting to profitable use substantial incomes from outside employment almost to the point of generating an internal dynamic that is self‐reinforcing. Western Province, in contrast, at least until recently, has had great difficulty in accommodating its high population pressure: its people have been successful in obtaining employment outside the province, but they were not able at least in the 1970s to raise the income earning potential within the province's smallholder agricultural areas at all significantly. In the case of Eastern and Central Provinces, it is not just the additional outside opportunities that have been important: the ability to attract outside earnings into investments in the smallholder areas has also been crucial.

There are a number of channels through which increased population pressure can affect the poor adversely by increasing inequality, even if the area as a whole is doing well. The first is land concentration and/or landlessness.

High degrees of land concentration among those with land may distinguish provinces with high population pressure. They do not, however, distinguish provinces with high incidences of poverty. In a comparison between Western, (p.269) Nyanza, and Central Province smallholder agricultural areas, Collier and Lal (1986) demonstrate that poverty is closely correlated with size of holding in Western, and quite closely in Nyanza, but not at all closely in Central Province. As Collier and Lal point out, the size of landholding is obviously less important where technical change has involved intensification in the use of the land, as is the case in Central Province, and more important where it has not, as in Western, and to some extent Nyanza, Province. The extent to which the size of holding is correlated with poverty also depends, obviously, on the importance of non‐agricultural sources of income and whether these are correlated with the size of landholding.

There is a surprisingly high degree of landlessness in Kenya's smallholder agricultural areas. Different estimates were shown in Table 7.3. Landlessness is not at all clearly associated with population pressure in Kenya, however. The incidence of landlessness is higher, if anything, in the less densely populated areas. Nor is landlessness particularly associated with poverty. Being without land is often associated with the availability of other sources of income, from regular employment, or non‐farm business (Livingstone 1986). The high degree of landlessness in Rift Valley smallholder agricultural areas, for example, clearly reflects the availability of plentiful large‐farm employment opportunities in the area. In Coast Province, it reflects the relatively less important role of agriculture in the local economy, and the availability of employment and income generating activities of other kinds. In Western Province, subsisting without land is more difficult. It is not surprising that people have been less willing to give up land in this province, where the proportion of landless is much lower.

Population pressure may lead to a reduction in local food production, but this is only a problem if reasonably priced food supplies are not forthcoming from elsewhere. Population pressure is often associated with shifts into the production of non‐food agricultural products with higher per hectare yields than food, and/or with shifts away from agricultural production altogether. This only causes particular problems for the poor however, if as a result they have to purchase food at higher prices, and/or if they do not get sufficient access to increased income earning opportunities to compensate for increases in the price of food (or other goods and services) that occur. The distribution of food through the market is not as serious a problem in Kenya as in some sub‐Saharan African countries. This is a very important factor, further discussed below in connection with decreasing subsistence production and increasing export crop production.

Another question is whether population pressure is associated with an increasing labour surplus or not, and how a labour surplus or shortage is reflected in wages and incomes. A labour shortage actually accompanied strongly increasing population pressure in Central Province in the 1960s and early 1970s. In that period, the growth of employment opportunities for Central Province people was so rapid that smallholder agriculture suffered (p.270) from a labour shortage. This meant that the considerable intensification of smallholder agriculture, which involved shifts into higher value per hectare products, was accompanied by decreasing inputs of labour both per activity and per hectare (Collier and Lal 1986). The Central Province labour shortage does not appear to have lasted, however. By the 1980s, Central Province was showing signs of a labour surplus again (Livingstone 1986).

One has to look beyond the labour market to see what determines the wages and incomes of the poor. Conditions in the markets for land and other factors of production are also important, as is the whole political and institutional framework within which these markets operate. Collier (1983) has argued that in Kenya ‘malfunctioning factor markets’ have resulted in output being less than it would otherwise be, and inequality being worse. Whether or not this is so, it is clear that the wages and incomes of the poor are affected by the way in which all factor and product markets operate, and these in turn are a matter of state policy among other things.

Population pressure may also affect distribution within the household and thus affect vulnerable groups within households adversely. There are direct and obvious factors operating at the demographic level within the household. Increased population pressure may also lead to more commercialized production relationships in which more income is used for investment, less for food and other items of consumption particularly affecting women and children. Population pressure may make food production more difficult, affecting women adversely in societies in which women bear the main responsibility for food production. There are no general rules (as Ann Whitehead emphasizes in her contribution to the first volume of this book), but the effect of increased population pressure on distribution within the household is seldom neutral as far as the vulnerable are concerned.

To summarize, it is not surprising that there is no evidence of a direct association between population pressure and poverty at the regional level in Kenya. The means of accommodating higher population densities are more open to people in some areas than in others. Central Province and Eastern Province may be able to accommodate their increasing populations by a combination of strategies involving taking advantage of opportunities provided by Nairobi and elsewhere and of conditions favouring investment within the provinces' smallholder agricultural areas themselves. But it is easy to get into the opposite syndrome, as Western Province smallholder agricultural areas appeared to have done, in the 1970s at least. Increasing population pressure can easily be associated with increasing poverty because the outside opportunities are neither plentiful nor lucrative and the economic base within the area itself is also weak. The absence of acute population pressure has not made other provinces' smallholder agricultural areas obviously more successful in Kenya. On the contrary, their problems are for the most part more serious than those of the more densely populated provinces.

(p.271) Decreasing ‘subsistence’ production

Increased market involvements have almost certainly been associated with increased average incomes in Kenya's smallholder agricultural areas, at least in recent decades, more so in some than in others. Interprovincial comparisons suggest that market involvement is associated in some cases with high and in other cases with low average incomes. The terms of market involvement vary considerably from product to product and from area to area. This may be most obvious in comparisons between different export crops but it also applies to the production for sale of food and other goods and services.

Differences in the role of ‘subsistence’ production show up clearly in IRS1 figures. IRS1 data on own consumption as a proportion of total food, and own consumption as a proportion of all consumption including non‐food items, are shown in Table 7.15. Production for own consumption is proportionately higher in Rift, Eastern, and Nyanza Province smallholder agricultural areas, and proportionately lower in Western, Central, and Coast. The evidence from IRS1 suggests that subsistence production may be something of a luxury: it represents a higher proportion of total production among higher‐income groups than among lower‐income groups of households. But this is not the only consideration as far as poverty is concerned. If production for own consumption is widespread in any area, food may be less expensive for those who have to purchase much of their own food.

Table 7.15 Own consumption, food consumption, and total consumption per smallholding in different provinces, Kenya, 1974/5

Total food

Own consumption

Purchased food

Other consumption

Total consumption

Kshs

% total

Kshs

% food

% total

Kshs

% food

% total

Kshs

% total

Kshs

% total

Central

3,118

70

1,530

49

34

1,588

51

36

1,365

31

4,473

100

Eastern

3,068

76

1,667

54

41

1,401

46

35

952

24

4,020

100

Rift

2,564

75

1,686

66

49

878

34

26

862

25

3,426

100

Coast

2,613

83

670

26

21

1,943

74

62

526

17

3,139

100

Western

2,108

75

896

43

32

1,212

57

43

700

25

2,808

100

Nyanza

2,039

80

1,047

51

41

992

49

39

507

20

2,546

100

All

2,594

75

1,297

50

38

1,297

50

38

856

25

3,450

100

Source: Republic of Kenya (1977a).

Western Province is a good example of low levels of subsistence production being associated with high incidences of poverty. But Central Province provides the opposite example. Rift appears to be a good example of relatively high levels of subsistence production being associated with a relatively low incidence of poverty. Nyanza Province provides an opposite example again. There is obviously no straightforward relationship between subsistence production and poverty. Subsistence production may be associated with low per capita incomes unless natural resources are plentiful. However even where resources are plentiful, there is a distinct limit to the income levels attainable in communities heavily dependent on production for own consumption within the household.

Increasing ‘export’ cropping

Another aspect of increasing market involvement is increased involvement in production for export. Whether or not this undermines the ability of rural smallholders to meet their food needs depends on many things (Longhurst 1988). One of the reasons that export crops are thought to be particularly problematic is because they displace food production. Whether or not food then becomes more expensive in real terms depends on many factors.

Government policy can be crucial here. In most sub‐Saharan African countries governments are heavily in agricultural product markets. How much smallholder agricultural areas benefit from their involvement in (p.272) (p.273) export production depends at least partly on government policy concerning the marketing and pricing of export crops, and the marketing and pricing of food. It also depends on a whole lot of other government policies relating to the provision of credit, input subsidies, and such things as agricultural research, fiscal and exchange rate policy and the trade regime. Sharpley (1986) and Jabara (1985) contain recent discussions of Kenyan evidence on these.

Some smallholder agricultural areas in Kenya heavily involved in coffee, tea, and pyrethrum production for export have benefited overwhelmingly both from the point of view of increased average incomes and from the point of view of reduced poverty. There is evidence in support of this from Keller et al. (1969) on Central Province tea and coffee, Fleuret and Fleuret (1983) on Taita coffee and vegetables, Rabaneck (1982) on coffee, and Hitchings (1982) on tea and coffee, both the latter more generally in Kenya. Not all export crops have been as successful though. Cotton, for example, has always generated much lower incomes than tea or coffee. Some cotton‐producing areas have high incidences of poverty. In a comparison of poverty in different agroecological zones, Smith (1978) shows incidences of poverty to be much higher in western Kenya coffee and tea zones than in eastern Kenya, but eastern Kenya cotton zones have similar incidences of poverty to those more generally obtained in the west. Smith's figures are presented in Table 7.16. The contrast between the different areas is partly a reflection of contrasts in the extent to which they are involved in export production, but it is also a reflection of contrasts between the different export crops. Cotton is not a very attractive crop to produce in Kenya conditions. This means that the proportions of smallholders in the cotton zones involved in cotton production are relatively small, but it also means that those involved are not obtaining very high incomes from it.

Table 7.16 Composition of agricultural output by agroecological zone, Kenya, 1974/5

Total (m. Kshs)

Av. per holding (000 Kshs)

Food crops (%)

Export crops (%)

Livestock and milk (%)

Tea east of Rift

622

3.7

51.0

16.5

32.5

Coffee east of Rift

994

2.9

58.0

12.5

29.5

Tea west of Rift

430

3.1

34.2

14.6

51.2

Coffee west of Rift

897

3.6

74.4

1.1

24.4

Coast composite

84

1.2

65.2

0.6

34.2

Cotton east of Rift

153

1.1

95.8

0.8

3.4

Cotton west of Rift

542

1.6

51.6

2.1

46.3

TOTAL

3,722

2.6

58.8

8.4

32.8

Source: Smith (1978).

Specialization in export production by some creates opportunities for (p.274) specialization in food production by others. There have obviously been gains for food producers in Central and Eastern Province as a result of the expansion of export production in those provinces. There have been even more substantial gains for food producers in other provinces. Smallholder food producers in Nyanza Province have gained substantially from opportunities for increased specialization in food production created by specialization in export crop production in other provinces.

When domestic food supplies have run short, the government has usually been prepared to import food. The marketing system has on the whole worked well enough to avoid localized food shortages in smallholder areas specializing in high‐value exports. This has not been difficult as most of the major smallholder exporting areas are well served with transport, and centrally located, geographically as well as politically. They have had the purchasing power to attract food through normal market processes. But while food policy and food marketing have been fairly effective as far as the areas of high‐value exports are concerned, there have been problems in areas specializing in low‐value exports and other non‐food products.

The extent to which poor people have lost out relatively in areas with high degrees of market involvement is an important question. Kenya sugar schemes have been cited as examples of increased inequality of incomes leading to increased poverty despite the increase in average incomes that is associated with the sugar schemes (Hitchings 1982 among others). An examination of district‐level evidence from the Child Nutrition Survey of 1982 concluded that there was no evidence linking child malnutrition with export cropping in Kenya in general (Test et al. n.d.), but Haaga et al. (1986) did find it a problem in the case of Eastern Province coffee.

There are all sorts of factors involved in the relationship between export cropping and poverty, none of them clearly dominant except in particular cases, and all of them making it possible for the relationship to go either way. The development of smallholder agricultural areas in which exports play a prominent role can be associated with an increase in income and a reduction in poverty if the terms on which the exports are produced and traded are favourable, and if the distribution of benefits from exports is not too unequal. Overall, the evidence in Kenya suggests a positive relationship between export cropping and the reduction of poverty, at least in recent decades.

Non‐agricultural incomes

It is not only a question of subsistence versus market production, or export production, in agriculture. The ability of smallholder agricultural areas to draw on sources of income outside agriculture may also be crucial to their success in reducing poverty, particularly as population pressure increases. The key distinction is not between areas that are more, and areas that are less, dependent on agriculture. Smallholder agricultural income makes up a relatively small proportion of total income in Coast smallholder areas which fare (p.275) badly on poverty. But the areas that are most heavily dependent on agricultural income, Rift Valley and Nyanza, are not strikingly more successful as far as poverty‐related indicators are concerned. Central, Eastern, and Western Provinces all share relatively heavy dependence on agriculture, but they have very different records on poverty.

The extent and profitability of non‐agricultural income generating opportunities varies substantially from area to area as we have seen. The most important supplement to smallholder agricultural income is income from regular employment. This is a key factor in Central Province where smallholders get more per household from regular employment than do smallholders in any other province; it is very important in Rift Valley smallholder agricultural areas and in Western Province; and quite important in the other smallholder agricultural areas also. Most regular employment is outside smallholder agriculture, some in government and private sector activities in the smallholder agricultural areas themselves, some in small towns in the neighbourhood, some in larger towns, and some in the large farm sector. All must be within commuting distance of the smallholdings to which it accrues. Location within reach of sources of regular employment is thus one of the important factors helping to determine how successful any particular smallholder agricultural area is (Rempel and Lobdell 1978 also make this point strongly in their article on remittances).

Remittances from more distant employment can also be crucial. Remittances are a major factor for Central, Western, Nyanza, and Coast Provinces, but less important for Rift and even Eastern. It is worth noting that remittances are high in provinces in which problems of poverty are most severe, Coast, Nyanza, and Western, but high also in Central for quite different reasons. The burdens imposed on people working away from home can be serious. In the case of Central Province, however, the relatively large burden probably reflects a positive involvement in investment in smallholder agricultural areas, rather than a heavy burden of dependency.

7.6. Conclusion

This chapter has attempted to bring out some aspects of the nature and incidence of deprivation in different smallholder agricultural areas of Kenya, and to relate the observed patterns to the economic characteristics of the corresponding regions. In this concluding section, rather than attempting to summarize the complex picture emerging from this investigation, we should take note of a few general lessons arising from this case‐study.

A consistent finding is that the economy of smallholder agricultural areas in Kenya cannot be seen in isolation. Access to earning opportunities outside the sector makes a great deal of difference, especially as natural resources begin to come under pressure. Employment opportunities in the urban and large‐farm (p.276) sectors, in particular, have a major effect on what is possible within small‐holder agricultural areas. Opportunities for exporting non‐agricultural products overseas can also be crucial, as population pressures increase.

This is not to deny the importance of smallholder agricultural development; rather to stress that smallholder agriculture is not enough, even with all the supplementary activities supporting it. It may be possible for a predominantly agricultural economy to support its population without excessive poverty and deprivation when natural resources are plentiful, people are satisfied with generally limited standards of living, and there are no irresistible pressures from outside to extract the surpluses. But in countries like Kenya, with its high and rapidly growing density of population, greater interaction between agricultural and non‐agricultural activities is essential if endemic poverty is not to increase.

Thus, Kenya can accommodate a large population and rapid population growth in smallholder agricultural areas if it can continue to develop the urban, industrial, and large‐farm areas as well as smallholder agriculture. The failure to develop the whole economy may cause as much trouble in smallholder agricultural areas as within these areas themselves.

This case‐study of Kenya brings out several observations of more general relevance for research and action. First, and in line with the preceding discussion, economic diversification can be of great importance, not only for the urban but also for the rural population. This point, which also emerges from the contributions by Jean‐Philippe Platteau, Francis Idachaba, and Samuel Wangwe elsewhere in this book, needs to be given greater recognition in discussions of the ‘food crisis’ in Africa. Second, deprivation has many aspects which are not always closely related, and this together with the limited reliability of relevant statistics makes it difficult to interpret the evidence. In particular, regional, occupational, and temporal patterns in the incidence of different kinds of deprivation are often hard to ascertain, even when the underlying contrasts are quite significant. Third, the heterogeneity of African economies and agriculture, which is even greater than this chapter suggests if one includes pastoral and large farm areas, is of crucial importance for the study of hunger and deprivation. Probing regional diversities, as has been attempted in this chapter with reference to Kenya, is a major challenge for empirical research on poverty in Africa. Finally, and relatedly, it is a waste of time to try to establish universal relationships between deprivation on the one hand and population pressure, or ‘commercialization’, or export crops, or ‘cash crops’, or sectoral balances, on the other. The economic and social relations that come into play in the causation of poverty are too diverse to produce stereotypical links of this type.

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Notes:

I am grateful to Amartya Sen for inspiration; Carl Eicher and Mahendra Shah for helpful comments; Michael Lipton for helpful discussions; Jean Drèze for his editorial work; and students and colleagues at Oxford for widening my perspectives.

(1) The terms ‘export’ and ‘cash crop’ are problematic, as is the term ‘food crop’. ‘Food crop’ is used here to refer to basic foods, mainly staple foods consumed in large quantities by large numbers of people in Kenya. ‘Export’ is used to refer to ‘non‐food’ products exported from the smallholder agricultural areas to the wider economy or beyond. It includes beverages (tea, coffee), pyrethrum, cotton, sugar and other products. ‘Cash crop’ also includes basic food products sold in significant quantities on the national or international market. The most important ‘cash crops’ not included in ‘exports’ are maize and dairy products.