In Kenya, Social Protection (SP) has been defined as policies and actions, including legislative measures, which seek to:
- Enhance the capacity and opportunities for the poor and vulnerable to improve and sustain their livelihoods and welfare
- Enable income-earners and their dependants to maintain a reasonable level of income through decent work
- Ensure access to affordable health care, social security and social assistance.
Objectives of SP
The overall objective of SP is to ensure that all Kenyans live in dignity and exploit their human capabilities for their own social and economic development. Current delivery instruments of SP within the social assistance, social security and social health insurance sectors include Cash Transfers, Food Distribution, School Based Feeding Programmes, Social Health Insurance, Retirement benefits, Price Subsidies, Public Works and Microfinance amongst others.
Social Protection Components
Anchored on SP are three components that include Social Assistance, Social Security and Social Health Insurance through which the various actors channel SP services. The government plans to review some of the existing SP schemes with the operationalization of the National SP Policy. Some of the schemes targeted for review and reform include but are not limited to; the National Social Security Fund, the public service pension scheme, various retirement benefit schemes through the Retirement Benefit Authority Act, the National Hospital Insurance Fund(NHIF) and Cash Transfers scheme.
Background and Line Ministries
The SP portfolio was put under the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Services (MLSSS) since June 2013. Previously SP activities were coordinated under the then Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Development (MGCSD).
Several government Ministries are in one way or another involved in SP work. These include, National Treasury, Agriculture, Health and Education.
Delivery and Implementation mechanism
SP interventions (including non-contributory and contributory schemes) have been implemented in Kenya by different actors and in different forms for many decades. Actors cut across the government Ministries, state agencies, development partners, NGOs, Civil Society, Private sector, Communities and individuals.
Kenya has formal social security provisions (social security and social health insurance) and recently, Social Assistance has gained momentum. An increasing number of safety net programmes targeted at the poor and vulnerable groups, including Cash Transfer for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children, Older Persons, Persons with Severe Disabilities and the Urban Food Subsidy; response to emergency and disaster situations, food distribution, grants and public works opportunities for the youth have been initiated and are ongoing. Other programmes exist in the health, education and agriculture sectors.
SP as a constitutional right
The Bill of Rights in the Constitution of Kenya (2010) guarantees all Kenyans their social, economic and cultural rights and binds the state to provide appropriate social security to persons unable to support themselves and their dependants. This right is closely linked to other SP rights, including the right to health, human dignity, reasonable working conditions and access to justice. The Vision 2030 as well as other poverty reduction policy documents also recognize and place great emphasis on SP as a powerful tool for improving quality of life for all Kenyans.