Kenya’s Social Protection Secretariat highlights evidence for a new child benefit

Kenya’s Social Protection Secretariat has highlighted new evidence showing the need for a child benefit for Kenyan children.

Screen Shot 2018-03-20 at 17.20.48Cecilia Mbaka, Head of the Social Protection Secretariat, pointed to new evidence outlining that more than half of Kenyan children living below the poverty line, but most are excluded from social protection. She made the comments as she helped to launch new joint Government of Kenya/UN reports reviewing the impact of Kenyan social protection programmes, including in addressing child vulnerability.

The fresh evidence highlights that targeting social protection at orphans, 7.5% of Kenya’s children, with a Cash Transfer for Orphans and Vulnerable Children inadvertently leads to the exclusion of other children who are equally or even more vulnerable. It also underlines that more than seven out of ten households in rural Kenya experience poverty over a ten-year period, and that an experience of poverty in the first years of a child’s life can have “negative and irreversible effects that last through adulthood”.

The findings, unveiled at the SP Conference in Nairobi, come in the report Child Vulnerability and Social Protection in Kenya, which recommends a universal child benefit for all children under five. This is because there “is no fixed group of children living in poverty that can easily be identified and targeted,” the report, authored by Bjorn Gelders, Senior Social Policy Specialist at Development Pathways, states.

It concludes: “Using microsimulations, the paper shows that such a reform – as part of a broader lifecycle approach to social protection – would be affordable, have a significant impact on reducing child poverty and vulnerability, and would drastically increase the coverage among children and households in need of social protection.”

Two other reports, one on transfer values in Kenya’s social protection system, the second on the success of WFP’s productive asset creation programme in Kenya, were also launched by Cecilia Mbaka yesterday. All three were prepared under the direction of WFP Kenya, UNICEF Kenya and the National Social Protection Secretariat.

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