Social policy and social protection
Helping to provide a fair chance for every child
In Kenya, 53 per cent of children are multi-dimensionally poor, meaning that they are deprived in more than one area, including lack of access to education, housing, nutrition, water and sanitation. In 2010, responsibility for providing a range of social services was devolved to Kenya’s 47 counties. Now, county governments spend 41 per cent of their resources on social services, which is a significant contributor to the country’s development.
The number of vulnerable families receiving government cash transfers increased from 150,000 in 2006 to 1.3 million in 2019, as a result of the expansion and strengthening of the national social protection system. In 2020, an additional 12,000 families received a temporary cash transfer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Cash Plus programmes provide linkages between social protection and other services, and the sector has solid shock-responsive components.
UNICEF’s goal for social policy is to decrease inequity and ensure a significant reduction in multi-dimensional child poverty. We are working with the Government to increase the number of children from the poorest and most vulnerable households who benefit from child-sensitive policies. In 2020, we worked with partners to develop knowledge products and recommendations for influencing social sector spending and supported the National Treasury to enhance its effectiveness in budgeting, reporting and accountability in the use of public resources.
UNICEF is also supporting cash transfers and other social protection interventions that shield children from the adverse effects of poverty, while enhancing access to essential services. We aim to strengthen and expand the social protection sector and are working with the Government on the introduction of a universal child benefit.
On a practical level, we are supporting Cash Plus programmes for the most vulnerable families. In addition to regular cash transfers, these include services such as health, nutrition and child protection counselling. We also provide solar-powered lights to provide access to clean energy and help children study in the evenings.
The measures to contain COVID-19 also affected families financially. Curfews, travel restrictions and market closures reduced people’s incomes. UNICEF responded by increasing cash transfers to more than 12,000 of the most vulnerable families across Kenya. Cash transfers are among the most effective ways to support families during emergencies, because parents are best placed to decide what their children need most, whether this is food, medicine, clothes or shelter.
Social policy in numbers
In Kenya, 52.5 per cent of children are multi-dimensionally poor.
County governments spend 41% of their resources on social services.
In 2020, UNICEF trained 600 government staff on social protection.
1.7 million households were reached with cash transfers in 2020.