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© UNICEF Kenya/2010/Omusula
Kenya's Assistant Minister for Planning, National Development and Vision 2030 launches the Social Budgeting Guidelines in Nairobi. UNICEF Representative Olivia Yambi and other senior Government officials look on.

Budgeting for Children’s Rights: Kenya issues Social Budgeting guidelines

By Pamella Sittoni

NAIROBI, 9 June 2010 - Kenya today made a bold step towards reducing vulnerabilities and disparities for children when it launched guidelines for the national roll-out of the social budgeting initiative. The guidelines were developed after a five-year pilot of social budgeting, supported by UNICEF, in seven districts.

UNICEF Kenya Representative Olivia Yambi said the national roll-out of the guidelines demonstrated Kenya’s accountability, having ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990, to develop strategies, policies and programmes to improve the situation of poor and vulnerable children and their families.

"UNICEF strongly believes that Social Budgeting is the most cost-effective way to guarantee the development and protection of children, and ultimately the economic development, future stability and prosperity of this country,” she added. The Representative lauded the spirit and content of the guidelines which demonstrate the human rights approach to programming principles and commitment to equity, accountability and participation.

Kenya’s Assistant Minister for Planning, National Development and Vision 2030, Mr Peter Kenneth, presided over the launch ceremony that was attended by senior government officers, provincial and district officials, representatives of development partners, civil society organizations and communities.

The Assistant Minister stressed the importance of the human rights approach to development: “Experience has shown that when people are not adequately engaged in decision making processes, they fail to contribute to, and benefit from material resources and basic services. This in turn leads to deprivation, exclusion, exploitation, missed opportunities and inequality.”

“It has, therefore, become necessary for us to re-orient our development strategies towards pro-poor growth strategies with more emphasis on participation by the people, particularly those who are poor, in identification and management of their priorities and social outcomes. By so doing, human development will be the ultimate goal of the budget process, while macro-economic policies will serve as the means to achieve that end,” he added.

Social budgeting was introduced in Kenya out of the realization that the top-down approach to budgeting, which is more pre-occupied with macro-economic objectives, missed the human development aspect. As a result, despite the immense resources being expended over the years towards poverty eradication, the impact has often fallen below expectations, particularly at community level.

The process aligns national level planning and budgeting with community level priorities, prioritization, participation and empowerment. Social Budgeting improves equity by helping to ensure that children, women and poor families are not marginalized in both the actual public sector allocations as well as the decision-making process of arriving at these budgets.

The process also enhances efficiency by helping to achieve the best possible results for children for the amount of resources committed; and contributes to stability by helping to secure adequate resources to sustain investments in the social sectors and promote social protection, particularly during crises. Under the social budgeting framework, the Ministry of Finance and that of State for Planning, National Development and Vision 2030 form a national social budget observatory.

At the local level, communities have autonomy to choose representatives for a district or county Social Budgeting observatory as the case may be. Since Kenya is currently using the Sector Wide Approach (SWAp) to planning, the framework creates an intermediary Sectoral Social Budgeting observatory.

The framework creates interaction between the local and national social budgeting observatories and there is feedback to and from each level as well as a degree of oversight from the national level. In between the national and local levels, Kenya has put in place systems to ensure efficiency, transparency and accountability.

If successfully implemented, Kenya will only be second to Peru in institutionalizing Social Budgeting. Peru has a National Social Budgeting Law applicable to all municipalities and provinces of the country with strong national oversight.



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