The Link Between Corruption and Poverty in Kenya
Kenya is located in the east part of Africa and is home to a population of over 40 million people divided among 42 major ethnicities. Although lauded as the economic hub of the region, Kenya’s growth trajectory has been slowed down by a myriad of challenges, including; poor political governance, tribalism and widespread corruption among others. These challenges have in turn led to high levels of unemployment, underemployment and consequently poverty. The United Nations (UN) Human Development Index (HDI) statistics show that more than half of the population in the country earn a daily an income of less than $1 USD (Cullen, 2008). In 2015, it was ranked sixth among top 10 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa with large populations living in extreme poverty (Daily Nation, 2015). This paper will examine the role corruption plays as the primary cause of poverty in Kenya and further provide mitigating strategies on how to fight the scourge.
Kenya’s social-economic and political climate is hampered by persistent and consistent corruption and was ranked position 145 out of 176 countries, a score is below the global average of 43 and Sub-Saharan Africa’s mean of 31, in 2017 report by the Transparency International. It is prevalent in the public sector, private sector, and civil society and has been a drag on economic growth and poverty reduction (Johannes 2010). The poor are specifically affected due to deficient social programs that are underfunded or poorly managed (OECD, 2016h). Research suggests that a worsening in the corruption index of a country by one standard deviation (2.52 points on a scale of 0 to 10) increases the Gini coefficient of income inequality by 11 points (Gupta et al., 2002). However, while it remains entrenched in almost all institutions in the country, well designed and targeted solutions will address corruption and push the country achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Solutions for Fighting Corruption in Kenya
To begin with, Kenya has a plethora of bodies, legal and institutional frameworks that have been put in place to fight corruption.However, due to mismanagement and weak governance, there has been little to no progress in the implementation process that has seen increased levels of impunity by those in public service who are expected to safeguard our resources and provide services with utmost humility, accountability and integrity hence eroding public confidence (Standard 2016). As such, there is the need for a mechanism that ensures the rule of law is adhered to and those found guilty of fraud and embezzlement brought to justice.To achieve this, it is essential that there is political will, right from the executive, legislature, and judiciary in implementing the existing frameworks that seek to address endemic corruption. This will, in turn, encourage transparency in all public offices consequently spurring socio-economic and political growth in the right direction
Secondly, technology has been increasingly seen by governments around the globe as well as activists and civil society as powerful tools to promote transparency and accountability as well as to identify and reduce corruption (Wickberg,2013). Globalization in Kenya has been well embraced as new technologies, in the form of websites, mobile phones, applications, etc., are being used to facilitate the reporting of corruption and the access to official information, to monitor the efficiency and integrity of social services and, and to make financial information more transparent. Hacking corruption has already resulted in laws being changed, in corrupt officials being jailed, and most significantly in ordinary people regaining free access to the medical, educational and other public services to which they are rightly entitled. As such, ICT-enabled technologies can reduce corruption by promoting good governance, enhancing relationships between government employee and citizens tracking of activities, monitoring and controlling the government employee and reducing potential for corrupt behaviors (Shim & Eom 2008)
Finally, while accountability and technology will go a long way in tackling corruption, it is more crucial to have in place sustainable solutions to eradicating corruption to ensure sustainable development.As such, comprehensive education should be accorded due priority for the growing population. This would involve ensuring that school and university curricula are updated and modernized in line with societal changes and developments to reinforce positive ideas and societal values for future generations and protect vulnerable groups of children (WEF,2015).Also, education will offer a way out of poverty by challenging the corrupt systems and structures within public and private sectors as well as the civil society. While the rule of law still struggles to deal with corruption successfully, schools and institutions and higher learning, proper education play a much more significant role in addressing corruption by ensuring that a culture of integrity is entrenched from a young age, consequently enabling them demand for accountability.Young people who constitute a majority of the population are the future of Kenya and should, therefore, start taking responsibility and initiative for the country’s development.
In conclusion, ranked as a low, middle-income country, it can be argued from the above discussion that Kenya’s struggle with corruption is first a social issue which has people scrambling for the already scarce resources to fend for their families.Further, it has also be argued that its persistence has been primarily because institutions such as the legislature and the judiciary, and several executive entities have been both weakened and become monumental perpetrators of corruption themselves as well as conduits through which corrupt activities flow (Kempe,2014). Former Secretary-General Annan offered Kenya's example when describing the effect of corruption on development ‘when he said, ‘Corruption hurts the poor disproportionately by diverting funds intended for development, undermining a government’s ability to provide basic services, feeding inequality and injustice, and discouraging foreign investment and aid’ (2003).The multi-faceted social-economic and political consequences include; diminished quality of life for a majority of the Kenya population as funds for basic needs such as education, healthcare, infrastructure. Corruption has also increased the cost of business transaction and in effect decreasing money flow and also driven away investments.Nonetheless, while Kenya still has a long way to go, a million miles' journey begins with a single step and it will only take a bold step to saying no to corruption.The suggestions offered in this paper offer sustained solutions and will come in handy when addressing this endemic issue. It is, therefore, imperative that the civil society plays a leading role in mobilizing Kenyans to speak out and demand accountability and transparency from the leaders they elect to office. In the end, individuals including leaders and citizens also have a responsibility of abstaining from corruptive practices as part of their moral obligation.