Influence of socio-economic factors on rural poverty: a case of Uringu division of Meru-North District in Eastern Province, Kenya
Poverty is an issue of concern that affects the lives of mankind. Every government of any country struggles to alleviate poverty situation of their people. Majority of the poor people all over the world are found in rural areas. Rural poverty cut across all boundaries because it is found in both developing and developed nations. In Kenya the biggest challenge is to alleviate poverty. Soon after independence the government of Kenya launched a policy document, Sessional paper number 10 of 1965 that aimed at fighting poverty, ignorance and disease. This study sought to investigate the influence of socio-economic factors on rural poverty in Uringu division of Meru - North district, Kenya. The objectives of this study were to: explore gender inequality on rural poverty, determine the influence of education on rural poverty, establish the relationship between land ownership and rural poverty, determine the influence of the level of income on rural poverty and finally establish the influence of culture on rural poverty. The literature review captured rural poverty on world perspective down to the study area that is Uringu division in Kenya. The research design used is descriptive survey, and correlation design. The tools of data collection were interview schedules and questionnaires. The target population was 7,760 households in Uringu division. Stratified sampling was done per location in the four locations that make up Uringu division. A sample of 100 hundred was used and proportionately distributed in those four locations. Binary logistic regression and descriptive statistics were used to analyse the data. Data was presented using percentages and frequency distribution tables. The study found out that gender inequality existed in Uringu division especially in land ownership. However this did not show any significant relationship with poverty. It is the size of land that had significant relationship. 61 percent of respondents had less than two acres of land indicating that no major agricultural activities could be carried out. Education level showed some significance at 0.05 level of significance. Income level was used as a proxy for poverty to determine whether people are poor or not. It was concluded that majority of people in Uringu division were poor since they earned less that one dollar per day as per international poverty line benchmark. Cultural practices did not show any significance with rural poverty. Finally recommendations were that women should be empowered to help them attain economic freedom. It was also recommended that land pieces be consolidated into bigger portions that are economically viable. Secondary and tertiary education should be supported in the area of study to broaden opportunities for people in the area and reduce overdependence on agriculture.