A breakdown of expenditure patterns for households at different income
levels was obtained through semistructured interviews with small groups of
men and women engaged in a wide variety of economic activities.
Expenditure of active very poor and poor households
The figure above illustrates the expenditure pattern of some of the poorest
households that weren't completely dependent on gifts for all their food and
income (i.e. they were not destitute). The active very poor group
illustrated here spends roughly SlSh 13-14,000 per day (or about US$2) on
both food and nonfood items for a family of 7 people. The standard of living
of these households is low compared to other wealth groups. Essential food
items include rice, wheat flour, maize, sorghum, sugar, vegetable oil, and
very small quantities of vegetables (onions and tomatoes especially),
cowpeas, meat, milk powder, salt and tea leaves. Very poor households tend
to purchase food daily in small quantities, which means that they end up
paying more per kilo than better off households that can purchase in bulk.
For example, the very poor purchase milk powder approximately every other
day in 17 gram units costing SlSh 500, tea leaves daily in units that cost
SlSh 100 or 200, and salt daily in units that cost SlSh 100 (each of these
items comes as a spoon full wrapped in small pieces of plastic bag). Meat is
purchased most days, but in units that are described as a `small piece' and
that weigh about 125 grams. The vast majority of calories consumed by these
households come from cereals, sugar and oil. Less than 5% of calories are
obtained from vegetables, milk powder and meat. The main non-food items that
are purchased daily are water, charcoal, and kerosene. Items that are
purchased less frequently include soap, second-hand clothes, and khat.
Spending on schooling and health care is minimal.
Households in the `poor' group, spend about US$3 per day on food and
non-food items for a family of 7 people. They tend to purchase slightly less
of the cheaper cereals (maize and sorghum) than the `very poor' group and
purchase more of almost everything else.
It is difficult to generalise about very poor and poor household expenditure
on water. This was not because of widely different quantities that are
purchased per household but rather because of huge differences in prices in
different parts of the town, particularly in the assessment period when
there was a seasonal peak in prices combined with technical problems. Very
poor households tend to purchase two jerrycans (each holding 20 litres) of
water per day, while poor households typically purchase three. Current
prices vary from SlSh 200 - 1,000 per jerrycan. In the rainy season, this
price range decreases to SlSh 200 - 500 per jerrycan. The most expensive
areas are on the outskirts of town, where the public water pipes do not
reach, where water is transported by donkey carts or by tanker, and where
poor households are concentrated. This does not mean that there are no poor
households living in the areas where water is inexpensive, but rather that
some areas of town where the poor are concentrated (e.g. Mohamed Moge,
Sheikh Nur) are ill served by the public water system. This places a large
financial burden on poor households living in these areas, and means that
they are making do with less than ideal amounts of water for hygiene and
The graph below compares very poor and poor households with middle and
better off households. Wealthier households can afford a better quality and
more diverse diet, purchasing much larger quantities of vegetables, fruit,
meat and milk (in the `other food' category in the bar chart below).
Expenditure on water, health care, education, transport, clothing and khat
also increases as households become richer. In addition, lower middle, upper
middle and better off households all indicated that they give gifts in cash
or in kind to poorer relatives (both in rural and urban areas) and
neighbours. The wealthier a household is, the more difficult it is to
present a `typical' expenditure pattern, because the household has more
discretionary income and therefore has considerable choice in how it spends
its money. The illustration for the `better off' in particular in the
graphic below should be regarded as only indicative. For this wealth group,
`other' includes investment. In general, the percentage of household
expenditure (and income) spent on food decreases as wealth increases. While
very poor households spend about 65-70% of their income on food, lower
middle households spend about 50% and better off households only about 20%.
For details of the expenditure baskets compiled for different wealth groups,
please refer to Annex 4.