Fact-checked: 5 claims in Kenya Nasa opposition manifesto

Kenya’s chief opposition coalition the National Super Alliance (Nasa) has released its manifesto, where it makes a number of claims. We zeroed in on five.

It’s promises season in Kenya, as the country looks to a general election on 8 August. This week we fact-checked the ruling Jubilee party’s manifesto as it seeks a second term.

The National Super Alliance (Nasa), seen as Jubilee’s main rival, has also launched its manifesto. But Nasa’s document is not without confusion – two versions are publicly available, one said to be focused on policy and the other implementation.

Nasa leader Raila Odinga  downplayed their existence, saying both documents spoke to the other. Dr David Ndii, a prominent Kenyan economist who led the team that wrote the manifesto told Africa Check that only this version is authentic. (Note: See the other version here.)

“Make sure you are fact-checking the correct document. There are all sorts of documents out there, Ndii said. “Look for the one titled ‘A Strong Nation ‘… ignore the other ones.”

We looked at some of the claims in the version he referred us to.

Claim

“…foreign debt has increased two-fold from KSh880 billion in 2013 to KSh1,890 billion this year, a growth of 115%”

Verdict

mostly-correct

The country’s foreign debt in March 2013 when the Jubilee administration was elected was KSh816 billion according to the Central Bank of Kenya’s records on public debt.

When Jubilee begun its first full financial year on 1 July 2013, the debt was at KSh843.6 billion. This is also reflected in the economic survey 2017, the countrys official annual statistics report. Foreign debt ended the year at KSh922.4 billion.

In March 2017, when the most recent data is available, foreign debt was KSh2.16 trillion. (It was at KSh1.89 trillion at the end of December 2016 – the level referred to in the claim.)

It is correct that foreign debt has increased “two-fold” since 2013 as the manifesto says, but it is more than 115%. It is now at 156%.

Claim

“Only half the children who complete primary school are proceeding to secondary school…”

Verdict

incorrect

Provisional figures from the economic survey 2017 show that in 2016 there were 757, 904 students enrolled in Form 1 – the first year of secondary school. These numbers are sourced from the ministry of education.

Kenya National Examinations Council numbers show 927,789 pupils sat for the final primary school examination in 2015. This means 81.7% pupils made the transition to secondary school.

Form 1 transition figures for 2015, 2014 and 2013 are 81.9%, 76.1% and 70% respectively, all significantly higher than the manifesto’s claim of “only half”.    

Claim

“…close to a quarter of those [children who complete primary school] are not completing secondary school.”

Verdict

downplayed

Some 562,296 students were enrolled in the final year of secondary school in 2016, according to ministry of education figures. These learners would have completed primary school in 2012.

In that year there were 882,800 pupils in Standard 8, the final year of primary school, 811, 930 of whom sat the final examination. This means 30% of students in the 2012 final year primary school cohort did not make it to the final year of secondary school. 

For 2015, 2014 and 2013 this number is 34%, 37% and 38% respectively. Early marriages especially for girls in far-flung areas and a lack of awareness about basic education contributed to the high attrition rate, an educator said.

“But high school fees is the number one reason for the drop outs,” Kahi Indimuli, who is chairman of the Kenya Secondary School Heads Association, told Africa Check.

Claim

“Our average maize yield has stagnated at 8.5 bags per acre, against a potential of 30 bags per acre, this reflects the very low yields among smallholders who produce 80% of our maize.”

Verdict

mostly-correct

“Over 75% of total maize output is produced by smallholder farmers,” the Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Policy and Development, an agricultural think-tank based at Egerton University, says in a 2017 brief.

One of the document’s authors, Dr Timothy Njagi, told Africa Check this number was based on the organisation’s research.

The number has durability: the African Development Bank in 2010 research noted that smallholder farmers in many East African countries including Kenya account for “about 75% of agricultural production”. It also said yield is 1.8 tonnes per hectare, or about eight bags an acre.

Tegemeo in a  2012 study estimated the average Kenyan farm yield as 1,934 Kg of maize per hectare. The crop in Kenya is usually packed in 90-Kg bags, making for 21.5 bags a hectare and about 8.6 bags per acre.

Figures sourced from the Food and Agriculture Organisation in 2015 by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre show that productivity “stagnated between 2000 and 2013”. According to the centre the average yield is 1622kg/ha, or 7.3 bags per acre.

“It is true that the maize yield has stagnated at that range. Currently, it’s seven bags/acre,” Dr Njagi told Africa Check, highlighting this study. “It’s also true that our current potential ranges from 27-30 bags per acre. These estimates are arrived at by using the acreage under maize production and the maize harvested from that area.”

The Kenya Seed Company, a state corporation, also notes that it has developed maize varieties that could yield up to 40 bags an acre if the farmer practices “good husbandry” and uses the right inputs.

Claim

“Our holiday tourist arrivals have declined five years in a row from 1.1 million visitors a year in 2012 to 930,000 visitors in 2016.”

Verdict

mostly-correct

The most recent data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shows a steady decline in holidaymaker arrivals in the country. In 2012 they were at 1.2 million, falling to 844,800 in 2015. There was a temporary recovery in 2016 to 962,600 arrivals.

In 2015, the data agency noted that “both visitor arrivals and tourism earnings have maintained a downward trend since 2012”. It blamed this on insecurity including terrorism, the Ebola outbreak in some West African countries and travel advisories [from source markets such as the US].

Holidaymaker arrivals thus declined four years in a row but recovered in 2016. We thus rate the claim mostly correct.

Edited by Lee Mwiti

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