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Background

The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Development (MGCSD) is charged with the responsibility of coordinating SP activities in Kenya. There are other government Ministries involved in one aspect of SP or another including, Ministry of Planning, Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Medical Services, Ministry of public Health and Ministry of Northern Kenya and other Arid Lands.

Efforts to develop a sustainable Social Protection programme in Kenya have been gaining momentum since 2006. Consultations to formulate a national Social Protection framework started in 2006 through which the government has identified key SP actions within Social Assistance, Social Security and Health Insurance sectors.

Social Protection programme in Kenya

Social Protection (including non-contributory and contributory schemes) has been implemented in Kenya in varying forms for many decades by the government and non-state actors.  There exists formal social security provisions (social security and social health insurance) and recently, an increasing number of safety net programmes targeted at the poor and vulnerable sections of the population, including Cash Transfers for Orphans and Vulnerable Children, Older Persons and Persons with Severe Disabilities; response to emergency and disaster situations, food distribution, grants and public works opportunities for the youth. Other programmes exist in the health, education and agriculture sectors.  These interventions have however been fragmented and limited in scope, sometimes characterized by poor targeting and duplication of actions. Reviews conducted on social assistance programmes indicate that their effectiveness has been undermined by lack of coherence and that their coverage and benefit levels are largely inadequate. Other impeding factors include initiatives that are too small to make a difference. Though SP is recognised as a powerful way to fight poverty in Africa, its full impact is yet to be felt as evidenced by the persistent high levels of poverty in the country.

The government has in the recent past increased commitment to streamline and expand SP services in terms of reach/coverage, coordination and funding. The Bill of Rights in the Constitution of Kenya guarantees all Kenyans their social, economic and cultural rights and binds the state to provide appropriate social security to persons unable to support themselves and their dependants. This right is closely linked to other SP rights, including the right to health, human dignity, reasonable working conditions and access to justice.  The Vision 2030 as well as other poverty reduction policy documents also recognize and place great emphasis on SP as a powerful tool for improving quality of life for all Kenyans. 

The government commissioned a Social Protection sector review in…(currently ongoing) whose findings will inform planning and financing of SP activities in Kenya. A key milestone in the progression of SP in Kenya is the development of the National Social Protection Policy currently pending parliamentary debate. When operationalized, the Policy will enhance collaboration and coordination among ministries, partners and other actors as well as provide for the establishment of a common fund to strengthen support for SP programmes across the sectors.

Work is also in progress to develop a Single Registry for the unification of Social Assistance programmes, an exercise expected to improve efficiency and effectiveness during implementation of programmes. Other future plans include the development of Social Assistance strategy, scaling up of Safety Net Programmes, expansion of Single Registry for Social Assistance programmes, developing common M&E systems and tools, harmonization and consolidation of existing cash transfer schemes.

The Government shall be the main source for financing Social Protection programmes, but additional financing shall be sought from Non-State Actors, Private Sector, employers, workers, community groups, voluntary organizations and Development Partners.

Some of the currently active development partners working with the government in the SP programme include the World Bank, DFID, UNICEF, World Food Programme, OXFAM and Help Age International, all of who provide different technical and funding support for the design and implementation of various SP interventions.

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