Social Drivers of Inequality

The probability of upward social mobility is determined by the nutritional quality, health and learning that are obtained during the first 1,000 days of life for most people. The good news includes the fact that infant and under-five mortality rates have decreased significantly across East Africa’s wealth spectrum, demonstrating progress made in improving early childhood healthcare, particularly vaccination, across the board.

Analysis of the data on stunting among children, a sign of malnutrition, makes for sobering reading. The share of stunted children in Tanzania and Kenya expanded in both rich and poor households. The gap between rich and poor children in both countries narrowed but for the wrong reason; stunting among children in the richer households grew at a faster pace than that of their poorer compatriots. This gap also widened in Rwanda, but it was because the rate of stunting fell faster among richer children than poorer ones. In Uganda, the gap closed as stunting fell overall but it did so faster among the country’s poorest children.

The difference in the quality of social service delivery highlights the urban-rural inequality. In Tanzania, 60 per cent of urban health facilities have electricity, clean water and improved sanitation compared to just five per cent of rural facilities. In Kenya 58 per cent of health facilities in urban areas share the same advantage of infrastructure.

Just 2 per cent of schools in rural Tanzania have adequate infrastructure and little comfort is given by the fact that urban schools are hardly better off on this measure. Tanzania compares badly to Kenya, where almost 60 per cent of all schools – rural, urban, private and public – have access to essential services. In Children in rural Tanzania are taught for less than half of the scheduled teaching time, and those in urban areas are taught for an even more dismal 27 per cent of scheduled teaching time. Children in Kenya’s public schools receive more hours of instruction than their Tanzanian peers. Furthermore, Kenya’s private school students enjoy an extra hour of instruction compared to their public school compatriots, which works out to two extra months of teaching during the course of an academic year.

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