IRI Poll: Kenyans Optimistic About Direction of Country

April 17, 2007

Nairobi, Kenya – An IRI poll found two-thirds of Kenyans (66.2 percent) are optimistic that the country is headed in the right direction.  This optimism has increased from 59.5 percent in November and 46.5 percent in June 2006. Additionally, more Kenyans are happy with the government’s performance since 2002.  Moreover, the proportion of Kenyans who feel the government has done well in fulfilling the promises made in 2002 has increased steadily since June 2006 to 61 percent.

Among the respondents in the study, 39 percent said they would like the government to improve their livelihoods and create employment, against a mere 1.4 percent who said a new constitution is a priority. Nearly 80 percent of those interviewed have confidence that the presidential and parliamentary elections, expected in December 2007, will give them an opportunity to voice their opinion, while 15.7 percent felt their vote will not make a difference.  Whether minimum reforms are enacted, 62.9 percent said they would vote in the next general elections (slide 35).  Two-thirds (65.8 percent) said a fixed election date should be put in the constitution.

IRI’s poll also found that 55.6 percent of Kenyans feel the economy has generally improved; an increase of more than 17 percent since June 2006.  However, only 33.6 percent of Kenyans feel that their personal economic condition has improved, reflecting a trend that many Kenyans perceive the economy to be growing but only benefiting others.

Parliament’s approval ratings are slowly climbing, with 54.8 percent approving and 44.1 percent of respondents disapproving of the current parliament’s performance.  Asked about their own member’s performance, Kenyans were nearly evenly split, with 44.3 percent indicating approval and 44.1 percent disapproval, representing no significant change from IRI’s November and June 2006 polls.  As reflected in the institute’s November poll, a significant majority of voters (63.6 percent) do not believe their member of parliament should be re-elected.

Corruption remains a prominent concern among Kenyans, as 45.5 percent of IRI’s respondents said that corruption has increased since 2002.  Respondents were divided on whether the government is committed (49.9 percent) or not committed (46 percent) to fighting corruption.  Additionally, a significant proportion of the respondents registered concerns over security issues, with 47.9 stating that insecurity in Kenya has increased overall.

This nationwide poll was conducted on behalf of IRI by Strategic Public Relations and Research, a survey firm based in Nairobi, Kenya.  From March 22-26, 2007, 3,000 people were interviewed from all regions in Kenya.  The margin of error does not exceed +/- 1.79 percent.