I have learned that creating multi-sectoral linkages is key in Social Protection programming
Antoinette Muyuka a Programme Manager at Imarisha Afya ya Mama na Mtoto (loosely translated as improving the health of mother and child) in Kakamega County was one of the 23 participants at the 10-day Management of Social Protection Services training held at the Kenya School of Government, Baringo Campus.
“In 2013, the county government of Kakamega made a decision of implementing a health oriented social protection programme to provide skilled pre-natal and post-natal care to mothers and children in the county. At that time, maternal and infant mortality rate were amongst the highest in Kenya. This was caused by the high poverty rates, lack of knowledge on maternal and child health, poor service delivery, diseases such as malaria, pneumonia, HIV/AIDs to mention but a few,’ shared Antoinette.
Oparanya Care as the social protection intervention is fondly named (after the Kakamega’s Governor who introduced it) provides conditional cash transfers spread across the six stages. For each stage of pre and post-natal care for a mother and child receive Kshs. 2,000 per the beneficiaries are also provided with Linda Mama maternity cover (a National health insurance cover) to access free skilled maternity services. This means, a mother receives a total of Kshs.12,000 from when she is 3 months pregnant to exiting when the child is 18 months old. So far, the programme has served over 50,000 mothers in Kakamega county and has been emulated by 5 counties including Vihiga and Laikipia. The programme receives support from UNICEF Kenya that includes upgrade of programme delivery systems, technical consultants and equipping of health centers.
“One of the biggest challenge has been how to support mothers from income poor households once they exit from the programme. A significant number of beneficiaries are those that cannot afford maternal care. The fear is once they exit without reliable sources of income, the good results achieved might go to waste,” explained Antionette.
Kakamega is ranked the second after Turkana with the highest rates of multidimensional and monetary poverty in Kenya and the fourth most populated at 1.87 million, of whom 52% are women and girls. The total fertility rate is 4.4 meaning a woman can give birth to an average of four children. In 2014, the county was ranked as the fifth with the worst reproductive neo-natal maternal health with 316 death per 100,000 live births and newborn death of 19 per 1,000 live births. These characteristics provide the need for integrated social protection interventions like Imarisha Afya ya Mama na Mtoto.
Building on skills and knowledge she found most useful from the training, Antoinette said “I got an eureka moment when we were learning about how to create programme linkages to boost economic status of poor beneficiaries. This is one element I am keen to incorporate in Imarisha Afya particularly for income poor and mothers with disabilities.”
Now that she has graduated “I plan to share knowledge from this training with my other 11 colleagues back at the office, most of whom have never received any training on social protection. The good thing for us is that the county already has a Maternal Health Act 2017 that is aligned with the National Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition Policy, meaning we get budget allocation every year ” Antoinette said.
In regards to further support from the course, Antoinette shared, “I am keen to be part of the Kenya Community of Practice on Social Protection to continue to deepen my understanding on social protection and especially emerging trends and good practices from other similar interventions. I’d like to access online training materials that we can tailor make to suit the needs of the different stakeholders within the county.”