The 2023 edition of the Kenya Social Protection Conference kicked off Monday at the Kenya School of Government.

Cabinet Secretary for Labour And Social Protection Florence Bore confirmed that at least 500 delegates will be attending the three-day conference, the first under the Kenya Kwanza Government. The last such conference took place in 2018.

“His Excellency the President Hon. Dr William Samoei Ruto will officially open the conference on Tuesday morning,” the CS said when she inspected the halls and grounds to be used on Sunday.

She added that “by accepting to be the Chief Guest at the conference, President Ruto is affirming his Government’s commitment to address the plight of the needy and vulnerable populations of our country, including the 1.2 million Kenyans currently covered under the Inua Jamii cash transfer programmes,”

CS Bore noted that the Kenyan government has adopted a multi-agency approach involving relevant Government ministries and departments to ensure that the conference runs smoothly.

She said the Government is working hard to steady and scale up the social production programmes in the face of the setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing economic challenges.

According to Bore, the government spends more than Ksh.26 billion annually in social protection programmes under the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection. Going forward, she said President William Ruto’s government is keen to do even better in expanding the social protection programmes, with the support of our development partners.

She said the Kenya Kwanza administration is cognizant of the fact that the elderly population continues to grapple with a lack of income security, inadequate health services, lack of employment and a deteriorating environment.

The CS cited this as the reason why the Government is seeking to push for 100 per cent National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) coverage for senior citizens within three years.

“We are also promising to enhance inclusion into society and employment opportunities for people with disabilities,” she said

She said this year’s conference provides the country with a way forward towards inclusion and expansion of social protection interventions for all deserving Kenyans.

“As a caring Government, we are aware of the limited coverage of social protection in some segments of our population including children, older persons, persons with disabilities, youth, and women,” she said

She adds that “this conference will be expected to come up with proposals on improving the welfare of these populations. Efforts will be made to ensure minority groups, workers, migrants, refugees, unemployed persons and those in the informal sector are also brought in bracket of special protection. It is only through this focus that we will ensure that all vulnerable groups are cushioned from extreme poverty, social exclusion and deprivation throughout their lifecycle,”

The Conference brings together national and international drawn from relevant line ministries, civil society organisations, development partners, academic institutions, county governments, media, private sector, humanitarian agencies, individuals, Semi-Autonomous Government Agencies and the international arena.

By Fred Azelwa.