Using Social Protection Policies to Reduce Vulnerability and Promote Economic Growth in Kenya

Economic_Growth_in_KenyaBy John Omiti and Timothy Nyanamba
August 2007

Vulnerability and human suffering are major challenges facing large sections of Kenyan society who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Policy reforms have failed to adequately address social protection issues afflicting particularly the most vulnerable groups.


This paper discusses ways in which social protection policies can be used to address the key sources or aspects of this vulnerability, and to promote agricultural and economic growth. The paper reviews social protection instruments, maps out actors involved in the provision of social protection, assesses the progress in provision of social protection in Kenya and identifies issues in moving forward to improve social protection, particularly in the agriculture sector.

Broad categories of social protection instruments – including social safety nets and social security are discussed. Issues regarding to targeting as well as instruments that can be used to deliver social protection programmes in agriculture are outlined. This is intended to promote further policy discourse in the area of social protection in Kenya and other comparable countries.

In the existing social protection programmes in the country, weak coordination, overlaps, supervision and monitoring of the multi-sectoral programmes is a recognised cause for concern. To address social protection effectively, policies must embrace both economic growth and its distribution. There is a need to sensitise relevant government functionaries and other stakeholders to basic social protection and propose ways that could contribute to the sustainable financing of some social protection programmes for agricultural and general economic growth.

There is an urgent need for an approach to concentrate resources, to define roles and responsibilities, and facilitate coordination between different parts of government, United Nations agencies, non-governmental and civil society organizations (NGOs and CSOs). Sustainability of the target programmes would be enhanced by participation and ownership by the concerned community.

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