As November dawns, Kenyans brace for a challenging month ahead, marked by a relentless surge in the cost of living, primarily driven by the escalating prices of essential food items.
According to data released by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), the inflation rate for October 2023 registered at 6.9%, marking a slight uptick from 6.8% in September and 6.7% in August. This figure signifies the highest inflation rate recorded since June when it reached 7.3%.
One of the primary catalysts behind the surge in October's inflation was the food and non-alcoholic beverages index, which saw a notable 1.4% increase compared to September.
The KNBS attributes this upward trend to the elevated prices of certain essential food items, including maize flour, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, cabbages, spinach, and carrots.
“Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages Index increased by 1.3 per cent between September 2023 and October 2023. The rise in food inflation is mainly attributed to the increase in prices of some food items, which outweighed the decrease in prices of other foodstuffs,” said KNBS in a statement.
These commodities hold significant importance for many Kenyan households, particularly for low-income earners who allocate a substantial portion of their income to meet their food needs.
The escalation in food prices can be traced to various factors, including the adverse impact of unfavorable weather conditions like droughts and floods that have disrupted crop production and supply in specific regions of the country.
Furthermore, the global surge in food prices has added to the inflationary pressures in Kenya, given the country's reliance on imports for some key commodities such as wheat, rice, and sugar.
In contrast to the same period last year (2022), all sectors have witnessed a surge in prices. Transportation-related goods and services have experienced a notable increase of 13.6%, while housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels have seen a 7.8% increase.
Conversely, the sector encompassing food and non-alcoholic beverages has marked a 7.8% rise since October 2022.
The constant surge in food prices is persistently burdening households and amplifying the overall cost of living for many Kenyans.