The government has unveiled the Kenya Joint Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Fund for Social Protection.
The fund which is a joint programme between UN bodies and the government is tailored to shift support from poverty targeted approach that excludes the 78 percent of the vulnerable population to a more inclusive approach in social protection initiative.
Speaking through a virtual meeting at NSSF building, Labour and social protection Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui said the UN partners offered at least Ksh 200 million (USD2 million) for the prrogramme.
“As Kenya develops and moves towards middle-income country status, higher investment in social protection will create greater stability, increased prosperity, a more dynamic and competitive economy”, he said
The Government , the CS said is committed cushion vulnerable populations against poverty by spending approximately Ksh 26 billion (USD260 million) annually on social assistance programmes
“Today Government is investing 0.4 percent of the country’s GDP to provide social assistance to 12 percent of the national population and in the current fiscal year, approximately Ksh 25 billion (USD 250million) has been allocated for social assistance with an additional Ksh 10 billion (USD 100m) set aside to respond to the COVID-19”, Chelugui said .
Increased Home grown financing, he added will ensure sustainability of programmes over time and is one that requires a lot of commitment, hard work and proper strategies.
Disruptions caused by COVID-19 needed government to put systems in place system to cushion all citizens against such crisis so that when faced with a crisis, they are able to respond immediately and save lives rather than trying to develop systems during a crisis.
Despite the challenges, the CS noted that during this time of COVID crisis, the government has fast rolled out interventions to cushion the vulnerable from extreme poverty through weekly stipend for lower income house holds and this is in addition to disbursing the ksh 2000 stipend for more than 1.1 million elderly, people living with severe disabilities and orphans and vulnerable children.
“We have disbursed more than Ksh 20 billion (USd200 million) during the period of COVID-19 with the additional support of our development partners especially for those in the urban informal settlement areas in Nairobi”, Chelugui said .
The Ministry the CS explained has reviewed the National Social Protection Policy of 2012, to capture issues that have emerged and the revised policy adopts a life cycle approach and also introduced a complementary pillar since lessons have taught us that cash alone is not enough to fully protect the poor and vulnerable persons because they also need access to affordable healthcare, social security, social assistance and to engage in microeconomic enterprises.
The government is also in the process of developing an Enhanced Single Registry that will integrate and harmonise data collection efforts, the CS said adding that the data collected will be used by various stakeholders making interventions for the poor and vulnerable across various sectors seamless.
World food Programme (WFP) Senior Deputy County Director Calum Gardner and who was representing UN agencies said the SDG fund has provided a new opportunity in Kenya to bolster the countries vision of achieving a prosperous status by 2030 in line with the global SDG.
The fund, which is being established by 12 donors, he added, seeks to unlock opportunities in Kenya and also other 34 countries across the world.
“The Kenya joint programme will build on the already existing UN support to the social protection in Kenya by strengthening systems and linkages between social protection and other sectors in education, labour , health and agriculture”, Gardner said
He noted that available evidence indicates that the use of universal approaches to social protection combined with strong integrated social and economic sectors accelerates capital development.
This joint programme, he emphasized will support the Kenyan government to pursue a fiscal affordable roll out of a universal social protection programme towards achieving SDG targets and as UN partners they will explore avenues and mechanism for increased domestic financing to allow the vision of scale to become a reality.
Covid 19 , h eadded make all to think about the need to explore a variety of social insurance options to cover for contingencies in the working age population necessary for the countries attainment of minimum standards on social security.
“ Much however remains to be done in the path of achieving universal social protection and it is our hope that this programme will address critical barriers necessary for achieving this long term vision”, he said
Gardner further noted that rallying call for this programme is to leave no one behind and this is demonstrated by the commitment of the 12 donor countries and other partner countries who commit to accelerate the pace of the commitments embodied in the 2030 development agenda.
The SDG fund joint programme will be implemented through the UN system under the Resident Coordinators office in close collaboration with WFP, UNICEF, ILO and FAO.
By Wangari Ndirangu