Social protection for older Kenyans: options for implementing the National Social Protection Policy
There has been growing recognition in Kenya in recent years that social protection is essential for achieving poverty reduction and inclusive growth. Kenya’s Constitution includes a commitment to social protection, and in May 2012 a new policy on social protection was passed as an Act of Parliament. This briefing paper looks at the Kenyan National Social Protection Policy (NSPP), and aims to contribute to the discussion on how to take the NSPP forward, with a focus on the role of a social pension in guaranteeing income security in old age.
- a social pension will be essential in order to guarantee a minimum income in old age for all Kenyans, which is an objective of the National Social Protection Policy (NSPP)
- the NSPP’s emphasis on efficiency and cost-effectiveness could imply that a social pension should be targeted only at the poorest older people. Yet there are questions around how compatible this approach is with the political, social and institutional context of Kenya. Meanwhile, analysis suggests that poverty targeting may actually be less efficient at reducing poverty than more universal approaches
- a universal social pension provides the most practical design in the short term, while the government could consider approaches such as pensions testing in the future, when administrative systems become stronger and contributory pensions increase in coverage
- the ideal scenario for a universal social pension may not be affordable immediately, but there are relatively low-cost options that could act as a first step to expansion over the coming years
- conservative estimates suggest that, despite the gradual ageing of Kenya’s population, the costs of a universal pension scheme would remain stable or even fall over the next 30 years