Poverty pathways to be mapped across Kenya

The Kenya Government on 23 June 2005 announced that it has enlisted the Nairobi-headquartered International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) to undertake an ambitious study investigating how, when and why Kenyan households move into and out of poverty. A deeper understanding of poverty dynamics can help developing countries better target and tailor pro-poor poverty interventions. ILRI has previously undertaken two similar studies on ‘Pathways out of Poverty and the Role of Livestock’, one in western Kenya and the other in Peru. These were undertaken in collaboration with the Pro-poor Livestock Policy Initiative of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations and Dr. Anirudh Krishna of Duke University, in the USA, who developed the participatory methods used in the study for similar research he first conducted in India. Remarkably, members of poor communities in India, Kenya and Peru all site the same factors that force households into poverty or help people climb out of poverty: loss or acquisition of livestock is, respectively, key to both. The new study in Kenya will be conducted across the whole country and will include all three of the country’s major livestock systems: pastoral, agro-pastoral and mixed crop-and-livestock production. The information on poverty will be collected in participatory ways and will be coupled with results of Kenya’s formal Welfare Monitoring Survey undertaken by the Ministry of Planning, ILRI’s partner in this new initiative, along with the Ministry of Agriculture. The breadth of the information obtained will allow scientists to answer a wide range of questions about poverty. The better understanding of poverty dynamics gained will help government policymakers and donor agencies better target and tailor pro-poor poverty interventions in this and other developing countries. The Kenya Government has awarded ILRI US$250,000 to undertake this study. 2004 Western Kenya Study: This study revealed that poor families move through six stages of progress out of poverty – from being able to secure food (stage one) to purchasing a sheep or goat (stage six). Fourteen stages were identified and these stages highlight the relative importance of livestock to the poor. The main findings are summarised in an ILRI Top Story. Click here to link to From Poor to Well-Off: Livestock can make a difference. Deep-seated customs can play a significant role in a family's descent into poverty and were identified as such by individuals surveyed. Raising awareness of the crippling effects of these customs, through a media campaign, could help get communities talking about the problems, and this could lead groups to actively seek solutions. The main findings are summarised in an ILRI Top Story. Click here to link to Funerals, Thefts and Bride Price: Livestock Loss Leads to Poverty. Click here to link to the full report Pathways out of Poverty in Western Kenya and the Role of Livestock. 2005 Peru Study: This study found that, overall, the number of households in poverty declined by 19% over 25 years in the 40 Andean communities studied. However, it also found that while some households escaped poverty, other households in the same communities fell into poverty and became poor. In addition to helping households escape poverty, stopping or at least controlling descents is essential to reducing poverty. The hole at the bottom must be plugged before there is any chance of filling the bucket. Else, households will continue slipping into poverty even as other households escape. Diversification of income sources – from livestock, crops and non-agricultural sources – are positively and strongly related to escapes from poverty. Market access, gains from small businesses, and community organizations are also positively and significantly associated with escaping poverty. On the other hand, health, land division, and social expenses (on marriages and funerals) tend to perpetuate poverty. Source: Excerpted from the draft working paper: The Hole at the Bottom of the Bucket: Household Poverty Dynamics in Forty Communities of the Peruvian Andes, Anirudh Krishna, Patti Kristjanson, Judith Kuan, Gustavo Quilca, Maren Radeny, and Alicia Sanchez-Urrelo

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