Social Protection in Kenya
Kenya depends on the improvement of the social welfare of its citizens in achieving development. Social support includes policies, legislation, and actions taken to increase the capability of vulnerable groups to enable them to achieve economic development and support themselves. Social support and protection include, but is not limited to social security, social services, and social welfare.
The Kenyan government, with the aim of achieving social-economic development, has embarked on social protection and support programs to help the vulnerable persons in the country. Some of the vulnerable groups in Kenya include
- The aged
The aged are a vulnerable group in the society due to their reduced ability to work and their likelihood of suffering from many health issues related to aging. The aged are mostly isolated from the community and their families leading to loneliness and poverty. To support them, the government has programs such as pension funding and welfare for the aged.
- People living with disabilities
Disabilities can be mental, physical, or developmental. People living with disabilities are disadvantaged and vulnerable to missing economic opportunities, discrimination, and stigma. The government caters for their welfare by setting aside some opportunities specifically for the disabled.
Orphans, particularly children are especially vulnerable to some disadvantages such as lack of basics, parental care, education, and guidance. As such, they are easy prey of malicious individuals such as pedophiles, sexual predators, child traffickers, drug peddlers and child labor. To protect the orphaned, the government provides homes for them in children homes and through adoption services to place them with foster families.
- The youth
The youth form the majority of the Kenyan population. Unemployment is the most significant problem facing Kenyan youths today. Lack of employment opportunities pushes some of them into criminal activities, idleness, peddling and even exposes then to radicalization. Setting aside specific positions and opportunities for the youth and supporting the SMEs through subsidized loans are some of the ways the government is reaching out to help the youth in generating employment.
With these groups in mind, the government developed the National Social Protection Policy in 2011 to deal with poverty and reduce the vulnerability to social, economic and natural stresses, which may affect their ability to fend for themselves. Such threats include the death of the breadwinner, injury during work and disability. The policy covers three areas of social protection: social security, assistance, and insurance.
Social security includes programs such as the National Social Security Fund and the National Hospital Insurance Fund. Social security covers various elements such as pension funds for civil servants, workers compensation, widows, and orphans compensation fund, health insurance.
Social assistance includes two components: financial assistance and social services. Financial assistance includes payments for necessities, funeral and burial expenses, healthcare, special needs, and allowances. Social services on the other hand cover rehabilitation, counseling, adoption, daycare services, community development, research, consultancy and evaluation services related to social programs, income assistance, indigent relief, and training in the provision of social services. Social assistance programs in Kenya include disability grants, expanded school meals programs, general relief and food distribution (during emergencies), HIV/AIDS nutrition feeding, the Kazi Kwa Vijana initiative, older persons cash transfer program and the orphans and vulnerable children CT, among others.
For successful implementation of social protection services, the government has to allocate funds to drive these initiatives. The government allocated billions of money to cover these programs every financial year. For the fiscal year 2017/2018, the national treasury allocated about 45.1 billion, 18.9 billion and 26.1 billion for implementation of the social protection programs, recurrent expenditure allocation and development expenditure allocation respectively.