Institute for Poverty Alleviation and
International Development

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Year Volume
Author Title
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Volume 1 Number 1 December 2010
Determinants of Regional Disparity in Kenya
Author_ Jacob C. Ng’ang’a
Pages 105-134
Abstract_ Regional disparity is key development challenge in Kenya. Since regional production defines the relative state of a region’s welfare, this study focuses on factors that influence regional production in accounting for regional disparity in Kenya. These factors include literacy level, parliamentary representation in government, security services, and availability of arable land, electricity connection and access to medical care, financial services, portable water, quality communication and transport infrastructure. The study uses modest analytical tools to determine how poverty level, used as a proxy of regional disparity, is explained by these factors. Overall, about half of Kenyans live below the poverty line and only 38 percent of the population have adequate access to medical care. The average fertility in Kenya is 5.4 with 73 percent of the population being literate and only 7 percent connected to electricity. Further, 76.5 percent and 74.3 percent of Kenyans travel at least 5 kilometres to the nearest post services and tarmac road, respectively. Regression results show that literacy levels, access to medical facilities and credit, proportion of arable land, region’s representation in government and proximity to infrastructure in terms of road, security, communication and water positively relate to the pattern of regional disparity in Kenya. However, relatively better regions in Kenya, in terms of lower poverty levels, are not necessary those with better access to water, security, electricity connection and higher tarmac road density. The study therefore recommends policy reforms that prioritize improvement in health, education and financial services in less developed areas. Specifically, the study proposes identification of a critical minimum literacy level for all districts, with adequate interventions to improve access to education in marginal areas. Similarly the government should liaise with private sector in identifying appropriate incentives to attract investment in financial services in areas not adequately served by the existing financial institutions. Finally, in addition to improving the overall infrastructure, enhancing communication services, through appropriate incentives, is a crucial step in reducing regional disparity in Kenya
Keywords_ regional disparity, poverty index, regression analysis, infrastructure, decentralised funds
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