In a country where a vast majority of people survive on less than a dollar a day, an inflation rate of about 17 per cent worsens the situation in ways that only the poor know too well.
The weakening of the shilling against the dollar has resulted in increased fuel prices which has in turn translated to increased commodities’ prices.
Inflation can be loosely translated to mean the increase in prices of commodities or services over a period of time. It means then that the unit value of money reduces and people need more money to buy the same goods or services.
Inflation is linked directly to the cost of living. An increase in the rate of inflation always means an increase in the cost of living. A high cost of living is seen in high cost of goods and services vis-a-vis reduced purchasing power of the people.
While all Kenyans are suffering greatly under inflation, it’s the Kenyan women who perhaps suffer most. Given that women are on average poorer than men, it goes without say that they, more than the men, are the ones who struggle most under the yoke of inflation.
The prices of essential commodities like sugar and maize flour have almost doubled and many families are learning to do without them. The prices of non- essential commodities are also high thereby worsening the situation. The problem is not that there is no money, it’s that the value of the money has greatly reduced.
Women especially from the rural areas and those living in informal settlements are realising by the day that they are selling less and less of their farm produce and goods. Those engaged in other businesses are also registering a decline in their sales as the purchasing power depreciates.
Weighed down by the responsibilities of taking care of their families, Kenyan women are finding creative ways of tackling the situation. Some have opted to cut down on their expenses while others are finding other sources of income.
Although the government through the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has come up with measures to curb the downward spiral of the shilling, more needs to be done to blunt the effects of inflation. There is need to do more to save people from the adverse effects of high cost of living.
Since essential commodities like sugar, maize and cooking oil are at the heart of every Kenyan, the government must come out strongly to regulate the prices of such commodities. It is unfortunate that while Kenyans, and women especially given that they are the ones taking care of families, are struggling to make ends meet and make sense out of the whole situation, politicians and government officials are paying lip service to the matter.
Let politicians and government officials know that talking about the high cost of living means little to the people, if anything. It does not also help to shift blame from person to person — that won’t do either.
This article was also published in the Kenyan Woman Issue 26 (Download PDF )