Recent findings released by Twaweza in two research briefs titled Learning to live with Corona? surveyed Kenyans’ views on economic impacts of COVID-19. Kenyan citizens’ knowledge, attitudes and practices based on data from Sauti za Wananchi, Africa’s first nationally representative high-frequency mobile phone survey.

For this survey, data was collected from 3,000 respondents in the third round of the special Sauti za Wananchi panel. It was conducted between 18th November and 2nd December, 2020.

As the economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak continue to be felt strongly across households, nine out of ten citizens say that they will be worse off financially if the virus continues to spread. Those with higher education are slightly less likely (84%) to say things will be worse for them.

A broader view of the economic effects of COVID-19 had citizens saying that the worst affected sectors are education (mentioned by 67%), the informal sector (jua kali – 60%) and the health sector (51%). Citizens also mentioned tourism and hospitality (32%) and public transport (29%). On Government efforts  to help its citizens, (62%) recommended creation of employment opportunities (54%) or provision of loans to young people to start or grow businesses. Tax relief for businesses (32%) and provision of COVID-19 protective equipment (sanitizer, masks, fumigation – 22%) were also popular recommendations.

Beyond their general economic outlook, households are now twice as likely to say the food they have will only last a day compared to June 2020 (60% compared to 31%). But they also seem to have more money with more households, than in June, reporting their money would last a week (34% compared to 27%) or a month (23% compared to 18%). Despite the alarming apparent decrease in household foods stocks, more households now say their food would last for 1 month or more (20% compared to 11% in June).

Specific focus on government management of economic issues revealed that 53% of citizens thought that the current government economic recovery measures are sufficient, while 31% said otherwise.

Additionally, the majority of citizens do not think National (63%) or County (61%) Governments have spent Covid-19 funds appropriately. However, less citizens are happy with the government’s management of COVID-19 in December (44%) than in June (64%). At County level, results are more mixed; 41% think their county handled the outbreak well and 38% thought it was handled badly.

Overall, however, citizens’ concerns are now more evenly distributed between their worries for their health and economic hardship. Previously economic concerns appeared paramount. When asked what concerns them about a possible second wave of infections, citizens mention the economic impacts (57%) at a similar rate to worrying about contracting the virus themselves (49%).

Concerns about health may be related to the increase in awareness about the virus (97% now say they are aware of it, compared to 67% in June). Prevalence of testing (1 out of 4 households (25%) have at least one person who has been tested for the virus up from 14% in June). In terms of taking protective measures, self-reported mask-wearing has increased since June with 81% saying they do this compared to 69% previously.

If they show symptoms of COVID-19, citizens are now slightly more likely to visit a health facility (up to 71% from 66%) but much more likely to quarantine at home (29% compared to 14% in June). However, they are  much less likely to call the Corona hotline (down to 22% from 44%).

James Ciera, Country Lead for Twaweza in Kenya, said, “Citizens’ behaviours and attitudes have evolved with the context. They are looking more and more for ways to survive and stay safe while carrying on with their daily lives. We can see increased mask-wearing, and more self-quarantine but less use of the hotline. Kenyans are now more worried about health issues relative to economic concerns than was previously the case.”