POLICY-BASED APPROACHES TO POVERTY REDUCTION IN KENYA: STRATEGIES AND CIVil SOCIETY ENGAGEMENT

Citation:
and Njeru PAEOHN. POLICY-BASED APPROACHES TO POVERTY REDUCTION IN KENYA: STRATEGIES AND CIVil SOCIETY ENGAGEMENT. Nairobi: UNDP; 2005.

Abstract:

The critical challenge facing Kenya is to raise the rate of economic growth to levels
incorporating broad-based improvement in the standards of living and well-being of Kenyans
in order to reduce poverty which has increased rapidly in the recent past (PRSP, 2000).
Kenya's economic growth rate declined dramatically from an average of 6.6% in 1970s to
4.2% in 1980s to an average 2.1% in the 1990s. The living conditions of the vast majority
of Kenyans are deteriorating rapidly. There is a marked increase in the number of people
unable to access clean water, clothing, shelter, health services and education. Unemployment
is a problem in Kenya. Average unemployment is at 23%, and is even higher for youth that
drop out of school and for women, averaging 25% in both cases (Chune, 2003). Government
services in many cases are no longer available. Growing disparities in access to services have
further undercut the living conditions of low-income households. School enrolments, infant
mortality and life expectancy have deteriorated (UNDp, 2002).
Kenya's economic objectives of growth, poverty reduction and improved resource utilization
and access have remained essentially the same since independence. The quest for sustainable
socio-economic development has however been a challenging endeavor, influencing some
policy shifts. The strident call has basically centred on poverty reduction, inclusion of those
excluded from the enjoyment of the benefits of economic growth and the redistribution of
productive resources. What have consequently changed are the strategies to achieve the
objectives of sustainable human development focusing on improving the quality of life of the
majority poor.
Poverty reduction broadly defined requires processes that help people to improve their
capabilities and functioning, that enable them to take charge of their affairs (Gondi, 2005).
Kenya has come up with many poverty reduction policies since independence, most of which
have had little success. The previous pre-1990s povertyreduction policies erroneouslyassumed
that the benefits of rapid growth of key sectors such as industry, service and agriculture would
automatically trickle down to all sectors of society. So more effort was injected into improving
economic performance (export incentive, agricultural food processing, etc.), at the expense
of promoting societal welfare enhancing projects. For example, some policies like the rural
and informal sector development did not receive the much-needed political will and required
resource allocation, to be effective.
87

STIESAJPAD/SER.E/92
Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Proceedings of Workshop on Citizen-Government Dialoguing:
Evaluating Policies for Poverty Reduction
28-30 June, 2005
Nairobi, Kenya
{~\
~~
United Nations
New York, 2005
ii
1. POLICY-BASED APPROACHES TO POVERTY REDUCTION IN KENYA:
STRATEGIES AND CIVil SOCIETY ENGAGEMENT
Patrick O. Alila and Enos H. N. Njeru
7.1 INTRODUCTION
The critical challenge facing Kenya is to raise the rate of economic growth to levels
incorporating broad-based improvement in the standards of living and well-being of Kenyans
in order to reduce poverty which has increased rapidly in the recent past (PRSP, 2000).
Kenya's economic growth rate declined dramatically from an average of 6.6% in 1970s to
4.2% in 1980s to an average 2.1% in the 1990s. The living conditions of the vast majority
of Kenyans are deteriorating rapidly. There is a marked increase in the number of people
unable to access clean water, clothing, shelter, health services and education. Unemployment
is a problem in Kenya. Average unemployment is at 23%, and is even higher for youth that
drop out of school and for women, averaging 25% in both cases (Chune, 2003). Government
services in many cases are no longer available. Growing disparities in access to services have
further undercut the living conditions of low-income households. School enrolments, infant
mortality and life expectancy have deteriorated (UNDp, 2002).
Kenya's economic objectives of growth, poverty reduction and improved resource utilization
and access have remained essentially the same since independence. The quest for sustainable
socio-economic development has however been a challenging endeavor, influencing some
policy shifts. The strident call has basically centred on poverty reduction, inclusion of those
excluded from the enjoyment of the benefits of economic growth and the redistribution of
productive resources. What have consequently changed are the strategies to achieve the
objectives of sustainable human development focusing on improving the quality of life of the
majority poor.
Poverty reduction broadly defined requires processes that help people to improve their
capabilities and functioning, that enable them to take charge of their affairs (Gondi, 2005).
Kenya has come up with many poverty reduction policies since independence, most of which
have had little success. The previous pre-1990s povertyreduction policies erroneouslyassumed
that the benefits of rapid growth of key sectors such as industry, service and agriculture would
automatically trickle down to all sectors of society. So more effort was injected into improving
economic performance (export incentive, agricultural food processing, etc.), at the expense
of promoting societal welfare enhancing projects. For example, some policies like the rural
and informal sector development did not receive the much-needed political will and required
resource allocation, to be effective.
87
7.2 EFFORTS IN POVERTY ERADICATION IN KENYA
The Government of Kenya has made commendable efforts to alleviate poverty and improve
the welfare of Kenyans. Some of the recent significant government strategies worth noting
include:
7.2.1 The Social Dimensions of Development (SDD) Programme
The SDD programme launched in 1994 recognized that the institutional and economic reforms
of the 1980s reduced the provision of basic needs for the poor, resulting in the loss of jobs,
erosion of purchasing power and reduction/removal of a number of important government
subsidies. The aim of the programme was therefore to cushion the poor against the adverse
effects engendered by the economic reforms of the 1980s. Despite the government's
commitment to the SDD programme, exemplified by allocation of KShs 5.58 million in the
1994/95 budget, the funds were not enough and a significant amount of the money was spent
on non-poverty alleviation projects. Therefore the poor did not feel its impact and increasing
numbers·drifted into poverty.
7.2.2 The National Poverty Eradication Plan (NPEP) 1999-2015
The government came up with a strategy to reduce poverty incidence in rural and urban areas
by 50% by the year 2015 and also strengthen the capabilities of the poor to earn income. NPEP
was launched in 1999 as a result of failure to combat poverty through national development
plans and poverty-specific programmes. The aim of NPEP is to provide a national policy and
institutional framework for action against poverty. NPEP was formulated through extensive
consultations and participatory action involving civil society, NGOs and Government agencies.
This approach was particularly useful in poverty analysis for the Poverty Reduction Strategy
Paper (PRSP) that followed.
7.2.3 The Mid-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF)
The government of Kenya came up with MTEF, a three-year rolling plan to budgeting that
links policies, planning and budgeting. One of its objectives is to formulate the budget in the
context of a more consultative process involving all stakeholders. MTEF is carved out of the
NPEP's 15 years program.
7.2.4 Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) 2000-2003
The PRSP has been termed the hitherto most comprehensive and most focused policy
document in the fight against poverty since independence (Omiti et.al., 2002). It complements
other poverty reduction efforts such as NPEP. The paper aims at facilitating sustainable,
rapid economic growth; improve governance and security; increase the ability of the poor
to raise their incomes; and improve the quality of life of all citizens especially the poor. One
of the positive aspects of the PRSP is that it draws from the failures of the past policies. A
consultative and participatory approach was used in its preparation, which involved various
stakeholders within and outside the government. The NGOs Working group on the World Bank,
under the auspices of the NGOs Council, gave very useful inputs into the PRSP documents
(Hughes, 2002).
88
7.2.5 National Development Plans
Kenya has had 8 National Development Plans since independence. Usually the development
plans cover a S-year period but there have been exceptions such as in 1994 when the then
Development Plan covered a 3-year period and the current 9th Development Plan, which covers
seven years (2002-08). The Table below shows the poverty reduction policies and the focal
content of each of the Development Plans:
Table 7.1: Poverty Reduction Policies and the Focal Content of Each of the Development Plans
Policies 66-70 70-74 74-78 79-83 84-88 89-93 94-96 97-01
Growth in national and per capita incomes v v v v v v v v
Kenyanisation v v v /'
Increased role of government in social and v v v v economic development
Expansion of the formal education systemlUPE v v v v v
Free medical services v
Rural development v v v v
Equal distribution of income through taxation, v v v price and wage controls
Self- employmenVinformal sector v v v ¥
Expanded health infrastructure v v v
Urban housing v v v v ,.,.
Social welfare/community develop through v v v v v self help movements
Family Planning and maternal child health v v v v
Price controls of basic necessities required v v v by the poor
Emphasis on prevention of disease/promotion v v v v v v of health care in rural areas
Rural development and district planning v v v v v v
Increased efficiency in the public sector v v v v v
Limit the role of government to provision of
essential and strategic services (leave com- v v v v
mercial activities to private sector)
Incentives/opportunities for private domestic v v v v savings
Incentives to promote increased role of private
sector in the provision of social services v v v v
and development
Provision of expanded basic needs in educa- v v v tion and health through cost-sharing
Market-oriented strategy/liberalization to
mobilize resources for growth and economic v v
development
Tight fiscal and monetary policies/financial v v discipline
Source: Dmili, et.a!., 2002
89
7.3 THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS, (MDGs), 2000-2015
In September 2000, 191 member countries of the United Nations adopted the MDGs
declaration, which outlined actions that were perceived as necessary for attainment of security,
peace and development. This endeavour also mainstreamed some mutually reinforcing and
interconnected goals into some global agenda. Subsequently, an agreement between the UN,
World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and OECDIDAC was reached on the primary
elements of a framework for a global agenda designed around goals, targets and indicators
(UNDP, 2003). This is what was collectively described as Millennium Development Goals
(MDGs) and sets global targets for 2015. These include:
• Halving extreme poverty and hunger (1990-2015);
• Achieving universal primary education (by 2015);
• Promoting gender equality (by 2015);
• Reducing under-five mortality by two-thirds (1990-2015);
• Reducing maternal mortality by three quarters (1990·2015);
Reversing the trend of HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB (by 2015);
• Ensuring environmental sustainability (by 2015);
• Developing global partnership for development with clear targets for aid, trade and
debt relief (by 2015).
lWo main principles guide the MDGs, namely national ownership so that processes and
products for tracking progress are nationally-inspired and driven, as well as the development
of capacity for monitoring and use of data for informed programming of activities and making
of policies. The government of Kenya, has taken a leading role in the realization of MDGs, and
with the assistance of development partners frameworks and initiatives such as the PRSP
2001, the government's Economic Recovery Strategy for Wealth Creation and Employment2003,
the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD)/ African Peer Review
Mechanism (APRM) ·2004, Common Country Assessment by the UN, the UN Development
Assistance framework, and frameworks from Kenya's other development partners (UNDp,
2003) have been put in place. These frameworks, in part, are aimed at attainment of MDGs.
The MDGs are closely linked to NEPAD initiatives, hence the government's setting up of
an NEPAD office, which also caters for MDG activities within the Ministry of Planning and
National Development.
7.4 ECONOMIC RECOVERY STRATEGY FOR WEALTH AND EMPLOYMENT
CREATION (ERSWEC), 2003-2007
The poor performance of the Kenyan economy over the last two decades has led to deterioration
in the quality of life of Kenyans. When the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) Government
took the reigns of power in 2002, it embarked on a strategy to revitalize the economy and
return it back to the path of high and sustainable economic growth. The government thus
formulated the Economic Recovery Strategy Paper 2003 as the blueprint meant to guide the
Government's economic policies over the next five years. Thus the NARC Government has
placed economic recovery on top of its policy agenda in order to reverse decades of slow and
in some cases stagnating economic growth, that has adversely undermined the well-being
of Kenyans (Kenya, Government, 2004). The overall objective of the strategy plan, ERS as
90
it is often referred to, is to harmonies strategies for accelerated economic growth with the
country's poverty reduction strategies and the ideals outlined in the NARC Manifesto. In the
ERS the government has proposed the following Poverty Targeted Programs:
o The Social Action Fund;
o Arid and Semi-Arid Lands;
o Slum Upgrading and low-costing Housing;
o Vulnerability Program; and
o Investment Program.
The ERS is a participatory approach involving all stakeholders nationally and at the
community level towards a common goal, which is economic recovery and poverty reduction
(Gondi, 200S).
7.5 ENGAGEMENT OF THE CIVIL SOCIETY IN POVERTY REDUCTION
EFFORTS
Presently there is little or no doubt that the participatory approach is top among the
prevailing methodologies in development organization for local level and enhanced community
mobilization and decision-making (Njeru, 200S). This has not always been the case. In the
colonial era all development activities were centred around the government, which formulated
and implemented policies. The post-colonial period was characterized by efforts to correct
the development imbalances created by the previous colonial government. The emphasis was
more on economic development, which embraced the trickle-down approach to development. It
was argued that the weaknesses of the indigenous private sector in most African states made
it necessary for the state activity to expand into the economic field (Alila, 200S). This led to a
strong centralized public bureaucracy, which had negative consequences such as poor service
delivery. When the government failed in its service delivery mechanisms, the third sector
(civil society) came up to fill the gap. Civil society (CS) also grew rapidly because the donors,
having lost faith in the government, decided to channel their funds through non-government
organizations (NGOs) and community-based organization (CBOs). This brought about tension
and suspicion between the government and CS. It was soon realized that the government,
as well as other neglected sectors e.g. the private sector were important to the development
process. The government later on embraced decentralization and Local Government Reform
programmes with the aim of "bringing government closer to the people, improving economic
governance, public service delivery, economic efficiency, accountability and transparency"
(Mitullah, 200S). Today the participatory approach, which brings together policymakers,
implementers, CS, local communities and other stakeholders, is used in all development
activities. There is a "current pervasive level of interest in decentralization and the trend
logically linked to central governments having a relatively much more positive perception of
the NGOs, other elements of the civil society and the private sector as stakeholders in the
development process" (Alila, 200S).
The CS organizations which, include non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Communitybased
Organization (CBOs), trade unions, human rights organizations, religious organizations
and consumer groups are very active in poverty reduction activities, especially at grassroot
levels. CS mobilize resources by empowering grassroots organizations to articulate issues,
strengthen their organizational capacity and influence the direction of their lives. The CBOs
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such as women's groups engage in income-generating activities, which contribute to their
empowerment both economically and politically and by implication, poverty reduction. The
CS organizations have also been very active in monitoring and evaluation of poverty reduction
efforts. For example, participation in the implementation and progress report of international
convention declarations such as World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) and the
MDGs. The CS, together with other stakeholders were also involved in the preparation of the
WSSD assessment report and the MDGs Progress Report 2003.
7.6 CIVIL SOCIETY ENGAGEMENT IN THE PRSP MONITORING AND
EVALUATION
The nature of civil society participation in the PRSP process was left undefined (Hughes, 2002).
It must however be appreciated that the development of PRSP in 2001 was the first major
case of participatory method in policy formulation in Kenya where nearly all stakeholders,
notably the poor, marginalized groups, civil society, private sector and the government came
together to consult and write a policy paper. While the methodology used was participatory,
many in the civil society saw the process as mainly consultative.
Although the PRSP is still at its infancy, the Kenyan government has embarked on designing
a monitoring and evaluation system. The CS needs to be involved at the monitoring and
evaluation in order to facilitate policy translation into practice. There is much scepticism
regarding the government's leadership in the monitoring, however, due to signs that the
consultation and feedback appear to be failing (Hughes, 2002). There appears at any rate to be
potential in the Kenyan Impact Monitoring (KePIM) exercise - a project carried out by GTZ's
Social Policy Advisory Services (SPAS) project located at the Ministry of Finance, the Poverty
Eradication Commission (PEC) and Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). Also a Participatory
Methodologies Forum of Kenya (PAMFORK) steering committee member has been nominated
to the monitoring and evaluation task force encouraging local NGOs input and involvement in
the process. The key guidelines for effective scaling-up quality CS participation include:
Adoption of a learning approach to the process on the part of all actors;
• Accepting the need for sufficient time. Quality participation demands space for trials
and errors;
• Recognition of governance issues (i.e. taking into account representation and
accountability questions on the part of all actors); and
Self-reflection around institutional strengths and weaknesses; this as a good basis
for strategic and effective alliances and partnerships.
7.7 ARRANGEMENTS OF MONITORING & EVALUATION IN PRSP
The Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) system adopted for the PRSP is designed to provide a
continuous tracking and feedback mechanism to all stakeholders in the process, especially the
poor themselves (Kenya, Government 2003). The PRSP adopts the principle of participatory
M&E by a wide range of stakeholders in public, private and civil societies and the general
public. The strategy seeks to:
92
o Assess whether priorities agreed upon in the PRSP have received the required
resources. All implementing agencies i.e. public, private and civil society sectors
are expected to put in place efficient resource allocation mechanisms;
o Assess efficiency in the implementation of the budget;
o Assess efficiency in utilization of resources geared towards poverty reduction;
o Assess the effective participation of all stakeholders in the implementation of the
PRSP; and
o Carry out periodic impact assessment of various interventions and initiatives and
programmes undertaken by stakeholders in the process.
The strategy will be implemented within a national framework that involves stakeholders at
different levels of the economy. The national level incorporates the national policy making
organ in the government (as well as National Stakeholders Forum, Thematic Groups, Sector
Working Groups and Development Partners) and implementing agencies (ministries, civil
society, private sector, local authorities etc.). At the district level the District administration,
government departments, NGOs, religious organizations and other stakeholders will be
involved. And the community level will involve CBOs, households and other stakeholders.
The government has utilized the outputs of the several studies that were initiated within
the framework of PRSP to inform the process of establishing an appropriate institutional
framework for monitoring and evaluation of the ERSWEC and reporting on the MDGs (Kenya
Government, 2003).
7.8 CHALLENGES OF THE CS ENGAGEMENT IN PRSP PROCESS
These are reflected through such questions as:
o How do CS warm up relations with government without compromising their
respective values and autonomy?
First step would be for donors to convince government of the value of the CS
capacity building and involvement in PRSP processes. How do the concerned
actors do this?
How can equal partnerships between local CS actors, donors and international
NGOs be built?
How can the PRSP process be nationally driven?
Openness to information sharing between different organizations will require
a shift in institutional cultures, a transition from closed and competitive
institutional attitudes built on mistrust to more transparent and sharing
cultures.
o How can consultations or Participatory Poverty Assessment (PPAs) avoid being
extractive and actually build capacity to advocate their own rights among the
poor? How can consultations and PPAs be designed so as to avoid raising false
expectations?
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Chune, Noah Chanyisa (2003). "Highlights of Current Labour Market Conditions in Kenya".
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Gondi, Hesbon (2005). "Poverty. in Social Context" Paper presented at the Tenth Africa
Training Course on Local and Regional Development Planning and Management, 14th
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