The 2018 Social Protection Conference

The Ministry of Labour and Social Protection held the 2nd Annual Social Protection Conference at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies (KSMS) from 20th- 23rd March 2018. The conference provided an excellent opportunity for development and policy action researchers, scholars, governmental officials, policy makers, social workers and representatives of regional and international organizations from different countries to gather for four days of intense deliberations. The theme of the conference was: Scaling up Investments in Social Protection for the Delivery of Kenya’s Vision 2030 and Achievements of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It was opened by the Deputy President H.E William Ruto.

DP Ruto at the SP Conference

The primary objective of the conference was to create opportunities for learning and sharing of experiences among players in the Social Protection sector. The aim of stimulating, motivating, promoting and advocating for increased investment in Social Protection by all actors across the range of levels and in a coherent and coordinated manner was well covered.

According to the Cabinet Secretary for Labour and Social Protection Amb. Ukur Yatani, the expected outcome from the conference was for deliberations to lead to the generation of a ‘call to action for Kenya’ that will specifically seek to address the pertinent issues that shall have emerged from the conference in terms of actionable areas that will help move the sector forward in terms of financing and increasing investment.

As a major stakeholder in the Social Protection Sector, The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) actively participated in the conference. The Managing Trustee, Dr. Anthony Omerikwa was among key panellists discussing the gains and achievements in social protection in Kenya. NSSF was established under an Act of Parliament in 1965. Transformative change happened at the Fund through the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) Act, No.45 of 2013. The Act transformed NSSF from a Provident Fund to a Pension Scheme to which every Kenyan with an income is required to contribute a percentage of his/her gross earnings to for purposes of social protection at later periods in life.The Fund covers employees both in the formal and informal sectors and there are great prospects for growth and productivity. The retirement benefits payable to the retirees is meant to protect them from possible vulnerabilities at old age.

Social protection has been prioritized by the governments all over the world as it has emerged to be a strong and efficient tool for redressing and reducing extreme poverty and other vulnerabilities in the country. The Kenyan government has formulated policies and guidelines under the Constitution of Kenya (2010) which guarantees Kenyans the right to Social Security (Article 43) which is a fundamental right that must be safeguarded. 

Available literature and data indicates that Social Protection as an initiative not only redresses poverty and vulnerability, but also has a double multiplier impact towards building resilience in socio-economic growth, productivity and development. The overall goal of Social Protection in the Kenyan context is to ensure that all Kenyans live in dignity and are able to exploit their human capabilities for their own sustainable socio-economic development.

Currently, Social Protection programs in Kenya include cash transfer to orphans and vulnerable children, older persons cash transfer program and cash transfer to persons with disabilities. A new program called Inua Jamii which targets older persons who are more than seventy years old was rolled out in April 2018 by the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection. NSSF as one of the leading pension Funds in Kenya was tasked to find innovative ways to incorporate the informal sector so as not to “Leave Anyone Behind” which is the guiding principle of the Global 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.