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Kenya, 14 September 2016: Single registry to strengthen social protection launched

© UNICEF Kenya/2016/Oloo
Jane Ndule relaxes with her grandson near their home in Machakos County. She uses the USD$39 that she receives every 4 months from the Cash Transfer for Orphans and Vulnerable Children Programme to buy food and to take her grandchildren to school.

 
By Dan Oloo

NAIROBI, Kenya, 14 September 2016 – Sixty-four year old Jane Ndule is a grandmother who lives with her three grandchildren in Machakos County. She is their sole caregiver. They are registered under the Cash Transfer Programme for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (CT-OVC).

Jane says, “Since both my grandchildren’s parents died I am the only one who can take care of them. Even in my weak state I find that I have to carry and crush stones to sell at the nearby construction site in order to get money to buy food and to take the children to school.”

Jane’s family is one out of over 360,000 households that receive a cash transfer of USD$39 every 4 months as part of the social protection assistance from the Government of Kenya, working with development partners such as UNICEF.

Currently, over 800,000 vulnerable Kenyans are cushioned from poverty by the National Safety Net Programme. This programme, also known as Inua Jamii (Lift the Community), targets seriously disadvantaged Kenyans by providing cash transfers and other social protection initiatives to help alleviate their vulnerability.

Cash Transfers are also available for Persons with Severe Disabilities and Older Persons beyond the age of 65 years who have no alternative means of support.

The Hunger Safety Net and Cash for Assets are the other initiatives that make up the bigger National system.

For a long time now, information from all these services has been managed by independent stand-alone systems, catering for each individual programme. Consequently, the Government had to contend with numerous challenges related to complex paperwork, risk of fraud, poor access to information, delayed payments and other inefficiencies that adversely affected beneficiaries like Jane who depend on this assistance for their very survival.

“When there are delays in getting the money I find that I cannot put food on the table let alone take the children to school. The money I get from crushing stones can only last us a few days, especially when business is slow,” says an anxious Jane.

© UNICEF Kenya/2016/Oloo
The UNICEF Kenya Representative, Werner Schultink joins the Cabinet Secretary, Phyllis Kandie and the Principal Secretary, Susan Mochache at the official launch of the Single Registry at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi.

 
On 14 September 2016, the Government of Kenya launched the Single Registry, an internet-based platform that allows users to access key information on all the social protection programmes at the touch of a button. It can be easily accessed at any time on any internet-enabled device. The Single Registry brings together key data from all the safety nets in one place, giving an accurate account of the entire programme and enabling better service delivery for beneficiaries.

While officiating at the launch at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi, the Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of East African Community, Labour and Social Protection, Mrs. Phyllis Kandie explained how the Single Registry will enhance access to information, “From today, all users will be able to see information about all the programmes and who is enrolled as a beneficiary. This is in order to strengthen transparency and accountability while giving financial assistance to the most vulnerable Kenyans.”

In launching the Single Registry, Kenya has joined South Africa as the only other sub-Saharan African country and the seventh country in the world to establish one. Applauding it as a milestone in the history of Kenya’s social protection agenda, the Deputy President, H.E Hon William Ruto, through a speech read on his behalf by the Cabinet Secretary said, “The Single Registry is currently holding information on over 900,000 beneficiaries across all safety net programmes and it is envisaged that this number will grow. We are convinced beyond reasonable doubt that social protection is an investment in our people.”

Furthermore, the Government has in the past four years allocated over USD$83 million for Cash Transfers and ensured that 245,000 older persons are covered under the National Hospital Insurance Fund to reduce the burden on beneficiaries who often have to use their cash transfers to cover their medical expenses.

The Deputy President noted that the system will also create opportunities for county governments and non-governmental organizations to be part of the social protection agenda. He said, “Our intention is to have as many social protection programmes as possible linked to the Single Registry in order to inform policy and for the Government to be able to monitor the impact of these interventions in a more coordinated way.”

To verify the beneficiaries’ national identity details to reduce the instances of fraud, the Single Registry is currently linked to the Integrated Registration Service (IPRS). The system is further designed to identify potential areas for social protection support and to ultimately enhance service delivery for vulnerable households by increasing their purchasing power, savings and even investments to combat poverty.

An optimistic Jane says, “My happiness comes from seeing my grandchildren go to school and making something of themselves. So my prayer is that even as we continue to receive this little assistance from the Government, I shall do everything in my power to make sure that they are well taken care of and that they get a good education.”

UNICEF is working with the Government of Kenya along with other development partners, including the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), UKAid, the World Bank and the World Food Programme to support social protection programmes for the most vulnerable households in the country.

 

 
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