Political Economy Of Cash Transfers In Kenya - Gerrishon K Ikiara

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Political Economy Of Cash Transfers In Kenya - Gerrishon K Ikiaraof,in,K,Cash,Kenya,kenya




    Gerrishon K. Ikiara,

    University of Nairobi

    A Report Prepared For Overseas Development Institute

    JulyAugust, 94, 2009


ASALsArid and Semi-Arid Lands

    CDFConstituency Development FundCPPS Core Poverty Programmes

    CSOCommunity Service OrganizationCTCash Transfer

    DFIDDepartment For International DevelopmentERS Economic Recovery Strategy

    FPEFree Primary Education

    FDSEFree Day Secondary EducationKANUKenya African National UnionKIPPRAKenya Institute for Public Policy Research Analysis

    KNBSKenya National Bureau of StatisticsKshKenya Shillings

    LATFLocal Authorities Transfer FundNARCNational Rainbow Coalition

    NESCNational Economic Social CouncilNGONon-Governmental OrganizationNHIFNational Hospital Insurance FundNSSFNational Social Security FundODMOrange Democratic Movement

    ODM-KOrange Democratic Movement- KenyaOVCOrphans and Vulnerable ChildrenPNUParty of National Unity

    PWDPeople With Disabilities

    UNICEFUnited Nations Children Education Fund


Table of Contents


Executive Summary

    As a result of daunting socio-economic and political challenges facing Kenya, including 46% of the country’s 38 million people living below poverty line, a rapidly growing number of orphans and vulnerable children half of which have resulted from a HIV/AIDs pandemic which has hit the country in the last two decades, frequent droughts and the recently unprecedented post-election violence following the disputed 2007 general elections, social protection programmes for the country’s poor and vulnerable population have become increasingly important both economically and politically.

    This study, using data and information obtained from government and donor representatives closely involved with Kenya’s Cash Transfer programmes and secondary data, examines Kenya’s Social Protection Programmes with special focus on Cash Transfer programmes.

    Starting with a brief review of the prevailing poverty and economic conditions and challenges facing the country, the paper examines government’s attitude and attention towards Cash Transfer (CT) and non-cash social protection programme; the eveolution, coverage and other features of the existing CT programmes in the country, the roles of the government and development partners in the programmes; domestic and external influences in the establishment of the various social protection programmes; estimated costs of the required CT programmes and the affordability and sustainability of the programme in view of the prevailing economic conditions and capacities; and the political economy and the overall ownership of the implementation of cash transfer programme in the country.


    While Kenya has had a long history of implementation of non-cash transfer programmes, such as food relief in the drought stricken areas, emergency and special programmes, school bursaries for needy children and a wide range of other interventions, cash transfers are new, mainly in their pilot or early stages and have been in existence only in the last 5 years.

    The existing cash transfer programmes have a limited coverage of the targeted members in three programmes, viz the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC), the Elderly and the Hunger Safety Net programme. With the on-going discussions to finalize the country’s Policy on Social Protection and the Social Protection Strategy (2009-2012) and a large increase in government’s financing of the CT programmes through national budget, the national coverage of these programmes is expected to rise substantially by 2012.

    There are high prospects of enhancing and institutionalizing CT and non-CT social protection programmes in the country’s budgetary system in view of the broad political support the programmes have received from a wide spectrum of political actors in the country. The liberalization of the country’s political system in 1992 which ushered in a highly vibrant and competitive multi-party political environment, has favoured introduction and expansion of social protection initiatives, both cash and non-cash.A number of donors, notably UNICEF, DFID, World Bank and SIDA played key technical and financial roles in the establishment of CT programmes in the country creating the perception that the programmes were donor driven and that the government was more in favour of non-cash interventions. With increasing government and public appreciation of CT programmes as an appropriate tool for reaching more effectively a 5

    special group of the population the extremely poor or hard-core poor, who cannot participate in productive economic activities, the government participation in financing the programmes has risen dramatically, in the last two years. The government is expected to shoulder the bulk of the required resources for these programmes in the coming years but with supplementary resources from willing development partners.

    There is considerable consensus among the stakeholders that the CT programmes are affordable and sustainable even without external donors so long as the programmes are expanded gradually, taking into account the capacity of the national economy to support the programmes at various levels. The successful implementation of much larger non-cash social protection programmes such as the Free Primary Education for 8 million pupils and Free Day Secondary Education and the Constituency Development Fund are generally taken as good indicators of the ability of the country to sustain CT programmes as long as political will is there.

    Most of the stakeholders were of the view the CT programmes as too socially and politically sensitive to be heavily dependent on external support which was often determined by exogenous factors beyond the government’s control.

    Kenya’s draft National Social Protection Strategy, estimates that the country could escalate the Cash Transfer Programme nationally to cover all the extremely poor consisting of the People with Disabilities (PWD), Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC), and Households with Older Persons above 65 years, at a total cost of approximately Ksh 12 billion annually (about 3.3% of the national budget), at a monthly cash “transfer” of Ksh 1,000 per household.



    With an estimated 46% of the country’s population of 38 million people currently living below poverty line, Kenya has faced an increasingly volatile socio-political and economic challenges especially in the last decade in terms of poverty, unemployment and inequality. These have compelled the government to re-think its strategies with regard to social protection for the most vulnerable sections of the population. While these problems have manifested themselves in the economy in most of the post-independence period, the situation experienced a sharp deterioration during the last two decades of President Moi’s 24 year reign as a result of prolonged periods of economic stagnation experienced in the 1980s and 1990s which raised the proportion of the country’s population living below poverty line to 56% by end of 2002.

     However, due to a number of anti-poverty measures taken by the new NARC leadership which took over from Moi at the end of 2002, such as more attention to the revival of the economy with special focus on key economic sectors like agriculture, tourism and infrastructure, as well as on employment creation, the proportion of the population living below poverty line was reduced from 56% in 2002 to 46% by end of 2007.

    1.1Urban and Rural Poverty

    Despite the gains made in reduction of poverty levels between 2003 and 2004, poverty remains one of the main areas of concern in the country economically, socially as well as politically. Kenya’s poverty estimates based on the 2005/06 Kenya Integrated Household and Budget survey (Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, 2007), the poverty headcount ratio for the urban population was 33.7% while that of the rural population 7

    stood at 49.1%, with the overall national poverty headcount ratio estimated at 46% of the population. The survey estimated an urban poverty line of Ksh 1,562, Ksh 2,913 for rural areas and Ksh 988 as the food poverty line. According to the Survey data about a fifth (19.1%) of the population was extremely poor or ‘hard-core’ poor with the respective levels for urban and rural areas at 8.3% and 21.9%.

    According to the draft Social Protection Strategy paper, a household is said to be ‘extremely poor’ when ‘its entire income is below food poverty line’ (Republic of Kenya, 2009(b), p.25).This category is also often referred to as ‘hard-core poor’. Data collected during the above Survey shows that hard-core poverty is concentrated more in Kenya’s rural areas, and that the levels of poverty differ significantly between regions, provinces or districts with Coast and North-Eastern Provinces exhibiting higher levels of poverty. 1.2Vulnerable Groups

    The 2005/06 Kenya Integrated Household and Budget Survey data highlighted the most vulnerable groups in the country, and identified the relatively high vulnerability of the elderly population to poverty compared to other age groups, (Republic of Kenya, 2009 (b); p.5). Other categories of the population that have been identified as being more prone to poverty in all the country’s seven provinces are the orphans and vulnerable children (OVC); People With Disabilities (PWD); the elderly; the urban poor and street families; people living with HIV/AIDs; victims of natural disasters such as floods and droughts; and internally displaced persons (IDPs); (Republic of Kenya, 2009 (b) p.6). The growing numbers within these categories of vulnerable groups has made it increasingly imperative social, economic and political pressure to introduce various social protection programmes in the country including non-cash and cash transfer 8

    initiatives. Social protection programmes have gained greater recognition and importance in public expenditure than was the case in 1980s and 1990s.

    Kenya’s draft Social Protection Strategy 2009-2012 argues that: “There is growing consensus that social protection does not have to be implemented at the expense of growth and that indeed social protection is able to enhance the long-term growth trajectory of the country and is an economically feasible and sustainable undertaking”(op. cit.). Factors cited to support this include arguments that there is a strong link between social protection; expenditures and a country’s development of human capital; that social protection expenditures facilitate reduction of inequality which may aggravate social and political tensions if not addressed; that provision of basic level income via social protection initiatives could promote labour market activities by the fact “individuals from poor households receiving cash transfers are more likely to look for work and to successfully find work compared to (poor) individuals not receiving such transfers”, and that resources provided through social protection can empower poor individuals to undertake investment” (op. cit).

    1.3Poverty and Rising Political Pressure

    By the 2002 general elections issues of poverty, unemployment, inequality and the overall poor economic performance had for more than a decade pre-occupied the attention of many Kenyans, emerging as one of the main political agenda items during the general election campaigns. It was not therefore surprising that these issues featured a lot in the manifestos of the opposition political parties as well as the then ruling party, Kanu, with promises that if elected the political parties and their leaders would focus on economic recovery and address the plight of the poor and vulnerable members of the 9

    society. During the 2002 campaign some of the local NGOs had formed pressure groups lobbying various political candidates to sign their commitment to embracing or supporting social protection policies and programmes.

    Thus, when the NARC Government took over from Moi’s Kanu government, there were high expectations that economic recovery and attention on the plight of the poor would receive high priority. The new Government led by President Kibaki, took its promises on economic recovery seriously and immediately drafted the Economic Recovery Strategy (ERS). To its credit, the country’s real GDP growth rates rose from 0.6% in 2002 to 7.1% by end of 2007 in spite of a myriad of economic and political challenges.

    The new government also introduced a number of key measures aimed at laying a foundation for reduction of poverty, unemployment and inequality. The introduction of a Free Primary Education (FPE) in 2003 and Free Day Secondary Education (FDSE) in 2008 were widely regarded as too ambitious in view of the limited capacity of the economy to shoulder such an enormous financial burden.. The fact that these programmes were launched as promised, demonstrated the extent of the government’s commitment to social welfare issues.

    A wide range of other social protection measures were taken targeting health, housing, food security and other special programmes under the Office of the President, Office of the Vice-President and a number of other ministries. Thus concern is demonstrated by a rapid increase in the Government’s budgeted resources which rose from US$ 390 million in 2002/03 to US$ 637.5 and US$ 1.18 billion in 2005/06 and 2006/07 respectively, (Allen, K. et all, UNICEF. 2007). Commenting on this, Allen, K. et 10

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