Kenya’s perennial failure to meet its income growth targets and social equity has contributed to high incidence of poverty. In addressing the poverty, the government has initiated some social protection interventions including cash transfers for the old, waiving fees for school going children and subsidies for farmers involved in selected agricultural enterprises. However, despite the advantages associated to the intervention, queries are being raised on the programmes sustainability considering the country’s economic potential. This study proposes the use of households’ expenditure analysis for timely identification of vulnerability status of community which could help in designing effective safeguards. The specific objectives of the study were to elucidate agricultural households’ poverty status, compare the household expenditure allocations to various necessities and show the importance of households’ expenditure reviews in policy interventions. A pre-set questionnaire was administered to 380 farmers in four cluster sub-counties (Sabatia, Bungoma North, Bumula and Mt. Elgon) of formerly Western province. Multiple strategies including purposive, stratified and random sampling procedures were adopted to reach the survey’s respondents. Nine in every agricultural household live below the poverty line using the per capita consumption expenditure indicator of a dollar a day (US$1 day-1). In their expenditures, agricultural households prioritized education spending (KES 46,382) above agricultural investment (KES 17,867) in 2017. In all categories of poverty levels and sub-counties, an identical expenditure patterns were observed on key needs, such as education, energy, agricultural investment and medical. In all the instances, spending on education was higher followed by energy, agricultural investment and medical. Despite its low ratio compared to others expenditure line, medical costs was a heavy burden for the sick. Failure of households to prioritize agricultural investment in spite of it being the key productive economic activity is a major contributor to persistent poverty. Strategies to motivate farmers to undertake requisite investments in agriculture to make it commercial entity are recommended.
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RUFORUM Working document series