The African Policy Dialogues on social protection in Kenya published a research report which documents the existing studies on social protection in Kenya. This report looks at the research and other evidence relevant to social protection policy; documents the status of knowledge on social protection in Kenya; identifies policy-related gaps in social protection in Kenya; and recommends actions for social protection policy, research and programming. The report highlights the following.

Legislation and social protection system in Kenya

  • The country has policies and mechanisms that guide the implementation of social protection including a national social protection policy.
  • SP policies and mechanisms are derived in different ways but most importantly they are informed and shaped by prevailing political and donor interests.
  • Policy formulation adopts a top-down approach; consequently, the involvement of beneficiaries or community members is limited.
  • Despite numerous policies relevant to social protection, there are many gaps between policy formulation, research and implementation.
  • Monitoring and evaluation mechanisms and structures in different policies are weak and limited resources are allocated to these functions by the government and other implementing partners.
  • Enactment of policies is not necessarily related to improved services. Major requirements and provisions of the laws and policies have not been enforced fully.

Nature of social protection programmes in Kenya 

  • They are highly fragmented.
  • Lack of effective exit and graduation mechanisms.
  • Inadequate financing in relation to the huge demand for social assistance in the country.
  • Challenges with targeting of beneficiaries due to high levels of vulnerability in the country.
  • Lack of sufficient evidence on the progress of the implemented social protection programmes.
  • Inadequate coordination of the programmes due to minimal information sharing between different actors which leads to duplication of effort.
  • There is no comprehensive approach to social protection programmes and despite the 2011 National Social Protection Policy which outlines a variety of instruments, cash transfers is the most commonly used instrument in the country.

Recommendations for legislation

  • Use up to date evidence in policy processes through partnerships between government and other agencies involved in social protection.
  • Resource allocation should be aligned to the policy provisions and commitments made by the government in its national plans.
  • The national and the county governments should review the targeting, coordination and implementation guidelines of social protection programmes to align them with the current needs and capacities.
  • There is a need for political, financial and technical support from other government ministries and development partners to build institutional capacity of a central unit to coordinate national social protection interventions.
  • It is important to put in place a broad legal framework that recognizes the implementation of social protection interventions as a right.

Recommendations for programming

  • Due to increase in the cost of living, there is a need to review the budget allocated to the cash transfer programmes, the types of cash transfers, coverage of the interventions, and the value of the transfers.
  • There is need for better coordination between cash transfers and other forms of social assistance programmes.
  • The implementing agencies should roll out an intensive well-coordinated public education programme to sensitize different actors on the purpose, value and processes of implementation of cash transfer programmes.
  • A comprehensive, practical participatory framework should be developed to provide communities with a platform for participating in the programmes.

Recommendations for exit and graduation mechanisms

  • To enhance exit, on attainment of 18 years and if the household still requires assistance, beneficiaries should be linked to other social assistance/complementary programmes.
  • To enhance graduation, the government should develop a framework for linking the beneficiaries to other service providers and interventions; create awareness and support for the programme teams; and encourage and beneficiaries to form groups for social economic activities.

Recommendations for sustainable financing

  • Expand sources of funding for social protection to include the private sector, community members, civil society organisations and faith based organisations.
  • Social protection should be viewed as central rather than peripheral to national development.
  • There is a need for a multi-annual fund which would guarantee support to beneficiaries on a continuous basis.
  • Enhance budget coordination and awareness among the concerned government departments and development partners.

Research needs

  • Research evidence should reach those with decision making authority, the community members who can build demand and the people who are affected directly or indirectly by the findings.
  • The linkages between research organizations, think tanks and lobby groups should be strengthened in order to improve the chances of research-policy uptake.
  • Research issues that need to be addressed include:
    • The cost-effectiveness of social protection instruments.
    • Appropriate mechanisms of linking safety nets to social health insurance and social security.
    • The effectiveness of different graduation models.
    • The viability of resource mobilization from other sectors, such as the private sector and communities.
    • The lifecycle approach to social protection.
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