Wednesday, 27 November 2013

SID Releases Report on Inequality in East Africa

The Society for International Development (SID) released the ‘State of East Africa Report 2013’ (SoEAR 2013), which revealed damning statistics about inequality in the five East African Community (EAC) countries. The report, released at the Hilton Hotel in Nairobi on 22 November 2013, puts Rwanda as the most unequal country in the region while Kenya and Tanzania follow suit as countries where inequality is increasing. Burundi is the least unequal country in the region, according to the report.

The report unearthed through several national census reports that the urban population, is increasing in East Africa. The SoEAR 2013 cites the Kenya 2009 Census revealing that 32 per cent of Kenya’s population reside in urban areas. In Tanzania, the 2012 census data revealed that the country’s urban population had increased from 19 per cent in 1990 to 30 per cent in 2012. The report predicts that urban population in the five countries will double in the next 16 years where most of these people will settle in unplanned settlements.
SoEAR 2013  predicts that such population in urban areas will double in the next 16 years (Photo Credit:
North Eastern Burundi, Karamoja in Uganda and Dodoma in Tanzania are the worst places in the region to raise a child —from a nutritional viewpoint. SoEAR 2013 also reveals that malnutrition rates among rich households in Kenya and Tanzania have increased albeit the malnutrition gaps between rich and poor households have decreased in both countries. Uganda has also witnessed a reduction in malnutrition gap between the rich and poor, which is because malnutrition rates among poor households in the country have decreased.

Launching the report, the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) Speaker Margaret Zziwa stated that, “This report mirrors East Africa region and its people. It affords us the chance to think critically of the people we represent.” Hon. Zziwa also stated that SoEAR 2013 challenges EALA to internalise what the statistics mean for the region.

SoEAR 2013, furthermore, paints a bleak picture of the agricultural sector in EAC where the sector’s contribution to economic growth is shrinking. This is despite the fact that most East Africans live off agricultural activities—in Uganda, it employs 66 per cent of the labour force whereas in Kenya, it employs 70 per cent of its rural population. The share of agriculture in Burundi’s economy, for instance, reduced by 12 per cent from 48.4 per cent to 36.4 per cent between 2006 and 2011.
 Agriculture is increasingly contributing less to the economies of EAC countries (Photo Credit:
The good news, however, is that the overall migrant remittances in the region has increased from $2.1 billion in 2011 to $2.4 billion in 2012. Kenya had the highest inflows of remittances at $1.2 billion whereas Burundi recorded the lowest inflows with $42 million.
Speaking at the same function, Abubakar Zein Abubakar, Chairman of EALA’s Committee on Regional Affairs and Conflict Resolution, explained that EALA has no choice but to invest in evidence-based interventions.

SoEAR 2013 is part of the ‘State of East Africa Report’ series, which provide policy makers, citizens and political leaders with insight and information regarding the ongoing integration process and other issues affecting the region. The latest report in this series—SoEAR 2013—can be downloaded from SID’s website

What is your opinion on the state of inequality in East Africa?


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