Presenting a dynamic understanding of rural household needs in Kenya

Shell Foundation

New research, Understanding Rural Pathway Transitions, developed by Shell Foundation (SF) and MasterCard Foundation’s Rural & Agricultural Finance Learning Lab (RAFLL), with support from The UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) – provides a structure to map rural households’ economic and social circumstances and provides practical insights and recommendations to service providers, funders and policymakers that allows them to align their support to directly meet the needs and aspirations of rural households.  

By combining the pathways model introduced in 2019 by RAFLL with interviews of 1,225 rural households in Kenya the report presents a dynamic understanding their different and evolving aspirations, livelihoods, and needs over an extended period. 

The research looks in detail at four pathways that play a vital role in rural economies:  the vulnerable subsistence farmer, the traditional commercialising farmer, the small to medium (SME) agribusiness owner, and the micro-entrepreneur.

What factors influence rural households’ income, resilience and agency?

Insights in the report include a presentation of the enabling and inhibiting factors that impact lives of low-income populations, particularly women who face structural barriers in accessing the capital, networks, and skills needed to lift their households from poverty and hardship.

The three broad categories of enablers, that can be tailored to each pathway are access to:

  • Productive assets and capital
  • Knowledge and support
  • Markets

Most households identify economic shocks (for example, Covid-19), impact of climate events like drought or pests, and household shocks, such as medical emergencies—as their greatest risks.

Download the full report here.