There is a need for the sector to position and entrench itself as a priority sector in government planning and budgeting processes. To achieve this, there is an even greater need for a clear strategy and established mechanisms for communicating results to defined audiences (especially policymakers). As it is, there is a mixed understanding of social protection and the programs that encompass Social Protection.  Evidence on the socio-economic impact realized by social protection programs while well documented has not been well communicated. As such, policymakers are unable to comprehend the contribution of social protection to economic growth – which poses a challenge to efforts that seek to increase government budget allocation to social protection – and makes sustaining interventions of non-state actors more challenging. The Social Protection Sector should project and position itself as a priority sector within national and county governments.

The CoP will provide an opportunity to have discussions on how to capture data resulting from the diverse programs, and to jointly organize and communicate outcomes and impact of these programs. The CoP will purpose to visualize the milestones of the sector through infographics, fact sheets, social media, audio-visuals, etc – in a way that demonstrates the return on investment. It will have the potential to help policymakers to appreciate the potential of Social to contribute to economic growth.

The Social Protection Sector is one that is rapidly growing, and such growth brings with it the need to continuously identify and respond to strategic and policy gaps. There is equally a need for sustained engagement towards the implementation of policies and other operational frameworks – and strengthen synergies amongst partners. For example, in the integration of payments, complaints and grievance mechanisms, and monitoring and evaluation systems. Another observable strategic gap is in the description of the relationship between national and county governments in the delivery of social protection services.

A Policy and System Strengthening Thematic Working Group will be established to focus on improving the understanding of these gaps and engage partners to progressively seek solutions. Solutions may include specific recommendations for a policy review or the development of critical guiding documents and tools.  In addition, the TWG will provide oversight on the implementation of various policy and planning instruments such as the Social Protection Investment Plan, The National Social Protection Policy and Strategy, and actions emerging from regional and local conferences.

Social Assistance expenditure in Kenya is lower than in many countries of the world, at only 0.4% of the GDP (Draft Social Protection Sector Review 2017). Despite this low percentage share of the GDP, the government remains the largest source of financing to social protection in Kenya (55 percent), followed by financing support from development partners (22 percent) and members of contributory schemes (22 percent)[1]. County Governments on their part need to expand they’re outlays for social protection if they are to fill the gaps and raise the overall level of support. Social protection programs should be treated as priority entitlements for public funding, and that discretionary outlays for other public goods and services should benefit from the expansion of fiscal space.

A Finance and Sustainability Working Group will be established to engage partners in exploring modalities for optimizing the resources available for social protection, and to suggest strategies for widening the resource base – the scope of which will include discussions around synergies, efficiency, communicating impact, budget influencing, and the linkage to the Big Four Agenda.

[1] Social Protection Sector Review Report, 2017

The delivery of social protection services in humanitarian environments can be very complex – often requiring clarity on how social protection systems and humanitarian interventions might interconnect, not just as theoretical concepts but in practice.  A TWG on Shock-responsive Social Protection will support to generate and organize knowledge on designing scalability, financing scalability, monitoring scalability, measuring the impact of scalability during incidences of emergency, and linking the various shock responsive programs to drought monitoring mechanisms such as the Vegetation Cover Index (VCI).

There is a large body of experiential knowledge within the sector that can be organized to inform standards, practices, and even Policy in Social Protection in Kenya. While there is substantive cohesion in practices amongst national-level partners, the same cannot be said at the county level or amongst local NGOs. For example, there are reasonable concerns around how NGOs and County governments go about targeting, feedback and grievances, the graduation of beneficiaries, or setting transfer value(s) within their social protection programs.  As in many sectors, framework guidelines, operational manuals, and protocols are instruments that contribute to quality programs and optimal results. They guarantee a return on investment. However, it must be understood that such guidelines can only be as effective as the commitment to implement them.

A Complimentary Standards Thematic Working Group will be established to steer discourse and build consensus amongst the partners on the nature of standards and guidelines to be developed.

There is an established understanding that an agreement on common indicators, on a shared information management system, and on the general fact that essential data need to be gathered (and utilized) by partners on a regular and consistent basis, is no doubt critical to the growth of the sector. As such, a MEL framework for the sector needs to be developed as a factor of coordination, accountability, and synergy. Notably, the Social Protection Secretariat (SPS) is in the process of establishing a sector-wide MEL framework which will consist of sector indicators, joint work plans, performance monitoring plans, reporting guidelines, reporting tools, and results in frameworks. In addition, the MEL system should purpose to include social security and health insurance components as well as any social assistance programs designed, funded, and managed directly at the county level.

A MERL Thematic Working Group will lead the CoP through discussions to constantly address the emerging challenges around data management and consolidate longitudinal lessons useful in drawing conclusions on the effectiveness of the Social Protection programs.

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