Kenya Fight Inequality Alliance statement on debt and austerity in Kenya

16 September 2021

For immediate release

The Kenya Fight Inequality Alliance (FIA) is part of the global Fight Inequality Alliance of social movements, trade unions, and non-governmental organisations. Kenya FIA members – women’s & youth groups, rural & urban poor, activists & artists, human rights organisations & defenders recognize the social economic impact of the  Covid-19 pandemic on Kenyans especially those living on the frontlines on inequality.

However, we as Kenyans fighting inequality have come together to express our concern and fears on the rising debt levels in the country. Specifically the implementation of the austerity measures that the international financial institutions including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank impose on our economy. These measures come as part of the conditions to loans borrowed by the Kenyan government to respond to the pandemic among other budgetary allocations.

Kenya has borrowed 68.8 % of its Gross Domestic Product and is paying ⅓ of its annual budget to creditors. In total ,Kenya owes 7.4 trillion Kshs to lenders and half of these is owed to external lenders such as the International Financial Institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank .

External and domestic debt spending was in 2019 twice the education budget, seven times social protection and ten times the health budget .When debt is more than 70% of GDP and debt service will rise in the next few years (even after post COVID recovery) from 55% to 80% of budget revenue. 

Kenya got here by repeatedly borrowing from the International Financial Institutions and other lenders.The Kenyan parliament has also increased the country's to increase the borrowing levels.

Additionally, the loans by the IFIs contribute to increasing inequality which pushes more people into poverty. For many Kenyans, who are already struggling; this has worsened the daily living conditions even more. For us as Kenya FIA, we believe that this is the time for our leaders and government to make structural, pro people changes and to fight inequality. 

Therefore, we are demanding;

Structural changes to national policies including debt cancellation, reversal of all current austerity measures and programmes imposed by the IMF and the World Bank, just tax policies (that do not unjustly favor the richest individuals and corporates) to free up badly needed funds for much greater spending on public services and demand accountability and better policy decisions are made by the government.

Specific Demands:

  1. To the Kenyan government:
    National Assembly) Members of Parliament & Senators: Halt the implementation Covid-19 response loans austerity measures and demand that the executive reports on where the money has been spent. The austerity measures and the prioritisation of debt repayment over public services are denying Kenyans access to crucial health and education services.
  2. Executive (President, Deputy President, Cabinet):
    This is your opportunity to renegotiate the current loans received and reject the austerity measures attached to the Covid-19 loans. Additionally, prioritise funding of public services with the funds secured
  3. To the World Bank and IMF
    Stop imposing your conditions on our country


Notes to the editor:

  1. Kenya Fight Inequality Debt Fact Sheet.


For more information, contact:

Antonia Musunga, National Coordinator, Kenya Fight Inequality Alliance | +254 720 061742