Starting this week, Nation Newsplex will be checking claims by political candidates in the lead up to the August 8 General Election. Is what they are saying true, out of context or just plain false? This week, we check claims on unemployment, food security, power sharing and rent increases.

UNEMPLOYMENT

During his acceptance speech as NASA flagbearer Raila Odinga said that “unemployment is at an all-time high.”

Taken literally, that would mean that the country's unemployment rate has never been higher.

Kenya has among the highest youth unemployment rates, a 2016 World Bank report found. Unemployment among Kenya’s youth aged 15-24 stood at 17 per cent compared to six per cent for both Uganda and Tanzania, according to the report.

In other words, one of six Kenyan youth is unemployed, a ratio that is almost triple that of the two Kenya’s neighbours.

In 2016, the economy generated a total of 832,900 new jobs of which 85,600 or 10 per cent were in the modern sector while 747,300 or 90 per cent were in the informal sector, according to the 2017 Economic Survey.

It is worrying that new jobs created in the modern sector, which is the source of well-paying jobs, dropped drastically by a third in 2016, compared to the previous year.

In his Labour Day speech President Uhuru Kenyatta said that in the last full year wage employment in Kenya has grown by over 11 per cent. But data from the latest Economic Survey shows that wage employment in the modern sector grew by a meagre three per cent from 2,478,000 in 2015 to 2,554,300 in 2016.

According to the Commission for Higher Education there were 71,347 University graduates in 2015, equivalent to 57 per cent of jobs created in the modern sector in the same year. They had to compete for the job with college graduates from the same year and also past graduates from higher learning institutions.

It is estimated that about 800,000 youth enter the labour market every year, which is equal to 96 per cent of all jobs created in 2016.

“Kenya’s growing labour force is not being put to productive use, which in turn is hurting growth,” states the World Bank report titled Kenya Country Economic Memorandum: From economic growth to jobs and shared prosperity.

According to the International Labour Organisation, the national overall unemployment rate is 11 per cent. However, the highest ever unemployment rate since 1991 was 12 per cent, in 2009. Based on the data analysed here it is not possible to conclude that unemployment in Kenya is at its highest ever. UNPROVEN

FOOD SECURITY

The preamble to the food security section of delivery website set up by the President’s Delivery Unit states that the government’s efforts to make food cheap and available to all Kenyans are bearing fruit with various initiatives aimed at supporting farming, livestock rearing and fish production initiated.

More farmers are accessing subsidised inputs to lower their cost of production and boost earnings.

Despite the progress Kenya has made in reducing hunger, it is among 50 countries where levels of hunger remain serious or alarming, reveals a 2016 Global Hunger Index.

According to the index, Kenya’s value of 22 places it at number 72 out of a list of 118 countries. The study, which was completed by the International Food Policy Research Institute, does not include developed countries because they have extremely low hunger levels.

The country has been in the midst of drought since last year. In March the Kenya Red Cross issued a media alert which indicated that three million people needed food assistance. The Red Cross announcement followed a Government report which revealed that 2.6 million people are in need of food, double those who were in need in August 2016. Of that number, 42 per cent, or 1.1 million were children.

While the government has blamed the famine on failed rains many experts say that the real problem is poor planning and over reliance on rain-fed agriculture.

But even where food is available the prices of basic goods, particularly food and fuel have been soaring this year. In May a 500ml packet of milk spiked by 20 per cent to Sh65 from Sh54 in January.

In January, a two-kilogram- packet of maize flour sold for about Sh120 but by March the same packet cost about Sh154, a 28 per cent jump.

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