Kenya is suffering more financial and emotional stress from the COVID-19 pandemic than other African nations, according to a survey by GeoPoll that found the country reporting the most widespread income cuts and distress of any of six African nations polled in November.
The survey in Kenya, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, DRC, Mozambique and South Africa found 43 percent of 3,000 respondents reporting their emotional wellbeing had deteriorated during 2020. But a full three quarters of respondents in Nairobi said their emotional health was worse than last year, with most citing a surge in financial pressure as the main cause.
For, while incomes have fallen nearly everywhere, both between March and June, and by more still since June, more people have been affected by severe cuts in earnings in Kenya than in the other nations. Around 52 percent of the respondents across all six nations reported a large drop in earnings since June, but 64 percent of respondents in Kenya suffered the same.
“South Africa had a lockdown early in the pandemic, but measures there have since eased, and the other nations polled have had fewer long-lasting restrictions. Only Kenya has had extensive restrictive measures throughout, remaining under curfew for now eight months, and delivering economic cuts that have caused a parallel deterioration in respondents’ emotional wellbeing,” said Roxana Elliott, VP of Marketing for GeoPoll.
This has led to a far greater degree of disruption to normal routines. Across all six countries, 50 percent of respondents reported their routines had been changed a lot by the pandemic, but, in Kenya, 66 percent of respondents reported considerable changes to routines, with only 6 percent saying their routines had not changed at all.
Kenyans are also more gloomy, as an election year approaches, about the amount of time it will take before they start to see any improvement in their financial situation, with more than half expecting it to take over six months, and 35 percent over a year.
In the same vein, they are the most bearish about the country’s economic outlook, with 44 percent expecting the economy to improve over the next year compared to 40 percent expecting it to deteriorate. This is much more downbeat than South Africans, who reported the next most negative outlook, and a long way from the ebullience of Nigeria, where 56 percent believe the economy will improve over the next year, and only 25 percent that it will get worse.
“The prolonged disruption of routines in Kenya, combined with a larger second wave of infections than seen in many other countries, and a greater economic impact, have brought a general level of distress and anxiety to the national psyche that is reflecting across people’s attitudes and decisions,” said Roxana.
Yet, hope may be in sight: more Kenyans are poised to take up any available vaccination than the average for the six nations, with close to half saying they will definitely get a vaccination as quickly as possible, and another 21 percent saying they probably will.