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«MS. MERCY MWAGONA DEPT OF ECOHIM, FACULTY OF SCIENCE, P.O. BOX 333, MASENO UNIVERSITY, MASENO – 40105 KENYA ABSTRACT Poverty, famine, HIV/AIDS are ...»

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TOURISM CONTRIBUTION IN LOCAL ECONOMIES: FOCUS ON POVERTY

REDUCTION IN KENYA

BY

DR. ROSELYNE N. OKECH (corresponding author)

DEPT OF ECOHIM, FACULTY OF SCIENCE

P.O. BOX 333, MASENO UNIVERSITY

MASENO – 40105

KENYA

EMAIL: RNOKECH@YAHOO.COM

MS. MERCY MWAGONA

DEPT OF ECOHIM, FACULTY OF SCIENCE,

P.O. BOX 333, MASENO UNIVERSITY, MASENO – 40105 KENYA

ABSTRACT

Poverty, famine, HIV/AIDS are national disasters in Kenya. The reduction of poverty has become one of the most compelling challenges of our time. Poverty is more than a lack of income – it is multidimensional and complex phenomenon with an intricate relationship to issues such as disease, illiteracy, infant mortality, environmental degradation and many other aspects. Tourism has, up to now, not been seriously considered in most of the poverty reduction strategies of international aid and development agencies. Tourism development has often been focused at the macro level, on international promotion, attracting inward investment, major hotel and resort developments and on national and regional master planning. There needs to be a shift towards building partnerships which bring to the international and national market places tourism experiences which reflect the characteristics of the destination, involving local communities and giving them a degree of control as hosts. Participation by, and the empowerment of, local people were clearly identified within Agenda 21 as among the important aims of sustainable development programmes. As a process of empowerment, participation helps local people to identify problems and become involved in decision-making and implementation, all of which contributes to sustainable development. The amount of control local people are able to assume within tourism developments is limited by the neo-colonial nature of this global industry. This paper attempts to highlight the issues of true community participation and empowerment in tourism initiatives with special emphasis to Kenya. It also addresses the issues of employment, including gender distribution, and access for local entrepreneurs from the formal and informal sectors to the tourism market which are essential to poverty elimination.

KEY WORDS: KENYA, LOCAL COMMUNITIES/ ECONOMIES, POOR, POVERTY,

TOURISM

1

INTRODUCTION

Tourism has, up to now, not been seriously considered in most of the poverty reduction strategies of international aid and development agencies. Tourism development has often been focused at the macro level, on international promotion, attracting inward investment, major hotel and resort developments and on national and regional master planning. There needs to be a shift towards building partnerships which bring to the international and national market places tourism experiences which reflect the characteristics of the destination, involving local communities and giving them a degree of control as hosts. The development of appropriate complementary products will increase the attractiveness of the destination and increase tourist spending in the local economy. In existing destinations, hoteliers and tour operators, local government and local communities all need to be empowered to take control of their destination within the context of the domestic and international tourism market. Local benefits, including poverty elimination, will be maximized where tourism develops strong linkages into the local economy.

The distribution of employment, including gender distribution, and access for local entrepreneurs from the formal and informal sectors to the tourism market are essential to poverty elimination. Infrastructural development can also be planned so as to benefit local communities through the provision of roads, telephones, piped and treated water supplies, waste disposal and recycling and sewage treatment. There is considerable scope for using this kind of planning gain to generate infrastructural benefits, which can directly benefit the poor. All tourism business should be approached with the idea of sustainability so that decisions made today will not result in depriving the following generations of a quality environment. Tourist service providers should be always upfront, forthright, and honest in all business dealings, including interactions with guests, staff, other businesses, and the land agencies for which we are permitted. Each firm is supposed to model and describe ideas, techniques and systems so that other businesses may follow in the pursuit of sustainable tourism and a socially responsible business.

2 Our most precious resource is the people and their potential to work for the collective betterment of our nation. Poverty wastes this resource and its potential. Poverty has numerous manifestations including low and unreliable income, poor health, low levels of education and literacy, insecurity and uncertain access to justice, disempowerment, and isolation from the mainstream of socio-economic development. It is, therefore, necessary to devise multi-dimensional policies and interventions that will provide a permanent solution. The poor must be provided with the means to help themselves through income earning opportunities, ready access to means of production, the provision of affordable, basic services and the protection of the law. This will not be achieved through temporary relief programmes but only through a deliberate and long-term policy to increase equity of opportunity and to ensure that all members of our society can participate fully in the socio-economic development of Kenya.





A fundamental prerequisite for poverty reduction is economic growth that considerably outpaces population growth. Over the past few years Kenya's economy has declined in per capita terms. As a result, the standard of living for the vast majority of the population has suffered and the level of poverty has risen alarmingly. Therefore, the governments immediate priority is to restore and sustain rapid economic growth in order to generate the wealth and economic expansion necessary to reduce the incidence of poverty. Over the next couple of years, the foundations for a broad, sustained attack on poverty and the creation of a more equitable society must be strengthened. At the same time, government, working together with civil society and development partners, will have to take a number of targeted short term measures to directly address some critical causes and manifestations of poverty.

POVERTY IN KENYA TODAY

The poor constitute slightly more than half the population of Kenya. Women constitute the majority of the poor and also the absolute majority of Kenyans. Three-quarters of the poor live in rural areas. The bulk of them are located within the highly populated belt stretching South to South-East from Lake Victoria to the Coast which straddles the rail and road corridors.

3 Preliminary results of the Welfare Monitoring Survey (WMS) show that the incidence of rural food poverty was 51%, while overall poverty reached 53% of the rural population.

In urban areas, food poverty afflicted 38% and overall poverty 49% of the population.

The overall national incidence of poverty stood at 52%. According to available estimates, over the past 25 years food poverty has increased more than absolute poverty. The number of poor increased from 3.7 million in 1972-3 to 11.5 million in 1994. Thereafter, numbers increased to 12.5 million in 1997 and is now estimated to have reached some 15 million. The major characteristics of the poor include landlessness and lack of education.

The poor are clustered in certain socio-economic categories that include small scale farmers, pastoralists in ASAL areas, agricultural labourers, casual labourers, unskilled and semi-skilled workers, female-headed households, the physically handicapped, HIV/AIDS orphans and street children.

The poor have larger families (6.4 members compared to 4.6 for non-poor) while in general rural households are larger than urban. Geographically, North Eastern and Coast Provinces have the largest poor households. Nationally, poor women have a higher total fertility rate (rural 7.0 and urban 4.8) than non-poor women (rural 6.7 and urban 4.1).

Studies in Kenya show that fertility rates decline with education while the use of family planning is higher among the non-poor. According to evidence on health status, the prevalence and incidence of sickness are similar for both the poor and non-poor.

However, the response to sickness is markedly different. An overwhelming majority of the poor cannot afford private health care (76% rural and 81% urban) and rely on public health facilities.

Subsequently, 20% of the urban poor and 8% rural poor found even public health charges unaffordable. Furthermore, 58% urban and 56% rural poor reported that they do not seek public health care because of the unavailability of drugs. A further indicator of disparity is that only 37% of poor mothers gave birth in hospital compared to 58% of the non-poor mothers. Empirical evidence shows that 13% of the urban poor have never attended school at all while the comparative rural figure is 29%. Of the poor, only 12% of those in rural areas have reached secondary education while for the urban poor the figure rises to 28%.

4 Dropout rates have risen, as have disparities in access, due to geographic location, gender and income. The main reason for not attending school is the high cost of education.

Children are also required to help at home, while for girls socio-cultural factors and early marriage are significant factors. Regardless of poverty, over 50% of Kenya's households do not have access to safe drinking water, although the proportion is higher for the poor.

In urban areas, large populations living in informal settlements within the towns and cities have no access to safe water. In rural areas there are large disparities between geographic areas where in North Eastern and Eastern Provinces less than 30% of the poor have access to safe water compared to some 60% in Western Province. Certain occupations, such as subsistence farmers (46% poor) and pastoralists (60% poor), have a higher than average incidence of poverty.

Subsistence farmers account for over 50% of the total poor in Kenya. While the poor cultivate, on average, more land and have more livestock than the non-poor, the non-poor earn more than two and one half times the income from cash crops and more than one and one half times the income from livestock sales. This pattern can be partly attributed by differences in the fertility of land and the affordability of inputs to improve productivity. For livestock, cultural factors and the lack of high-grade stock and poor access to markets could account for low sales among the poor. Studies in Kenya indicate that women are more vulnerable to poverty than men. For instance, 69% of the active female population work as subsistence farmers compared to 43% of men.

Given that subsistence farmers are among the very poor, this relative dependence of women upon subsistence farming explains the extreme vulnerability of women. These problems are most severe in arid and semi-arid areas where women spend a great portion of their time searching for water and fuel. The release of women's productive potential is pivotal to breaking the cycle of poverty so that they can share fully in the benefits of development and in the products of their own labour. In the urban areas, the proportion of poor female-headed households was higher than male-headed households in 1997. Both rural and urban women in 1997 were severely affected by poverty. This means that women are affected more by development process and the area of residence plays a major role in poverty status of women.

5 However, poverty is still pre-dominant in the rural areas for both men and women, meaning targeting needs to be intensified in the rural areas. Inequitable access to the means of production (land and capital), the distribution of wealth, reduced access to economic goods and services and remunerative employment are all causes of poverty.

Poverty adversely affects participation in social and political processes and denies life choices while the poor are particularly vulnerable to natural disasters. In terms of income distribution, Kenya ranks highly as inequitable. Estimates indicate that a high proportion of wealth is concentrated in a very small proportion of the total population.

This income concentration is the highest amongst the 22 poorest countries and is exceeded only by Guatemala (per capita income US$1340), South Africa (US$3,160) and Brazil (US$3,640). The indicators demonstrate the depth and breadth of poverty in Kenya today and the magnitude of the challenge. The fight against poverty, ignorance and disease has been a major goal of Government since independence. However, it is evident that efforts to-date have been inadequate and the growth of poverty has not been reversed. In response, Government is mounting a new effort which will incorporate wider consultation and broader participation of various stakeholders. This is designed as an ongoing long-term poverty strategy for policy and programme development.

GENDER CONCERNS – CASE STUDY OF FAWE

The Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) is a pan African nongovernment organization, registered in Kenya, that seeks to promote the education of women and girls in Africa. FAWE was created in 1992 to counter the slow pace of implementation of Education For All (EFA) goals in sub-Saharan Africa. It seeks to ensure that girls have access to school, complete their studies and perform well at all levels.

When poverty engulfs a family, the youngest are the most affected and most vulnerable—their rights to survival, growth and development are at risk. A child born today in the developing world has a 4 out of 10 chance of living in extreme poverty (UNICEF: The state of the World’s Children 2001 p. 32).

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