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Invest more in social and community development



Invest more in social and community development

Extreme poverty is a condition characterised by severe deprivation of basic human needs, including but not limited to food security, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education and information. It depends both on income and societal access to services. 

In September 2000, leaders at the Millennium Summit in New York under the aegis of the United Nations Millennium Project observed the close correlation between economic growth and reduction of poverty in poor countries and governments and leaders to indiscriminately target extreme poverty. 

Our children and successive generations are suffering the unforgiving wrath of poverty and their future is uncertain because most families can’t afford school fees in the subsisting socio-economic set-up.

For instance, Swabaha Sidi, 14, from Kilifi County, scored 416 marks in the latest KCPE. She is supposed to join Maryhill Girls High School, Kiambu, a national school, but due to poverty, is unable to enrol. 

We must introspect towards going back to the basics and start solving our challenges from the community set-up.

Investing more in socioeconomic programmes that target the vulnerable. We should, perhaps, start by having as many social workers as possible to help in the poverty alleviation programmes and targeted outcomes while engaging with the bottom billion of the economic pyramid.

The government should collaborate with other actors and lead the way by developing policies and initiation of sustainable actions to put an end to or at least reduce significantly the incidence of poverty.

Many sustainable strategies for reducing poverty are aimed at the fundamental causes of the situation rather than the provision of direct material support. Participation, self-reliance, sustainability, and empowerment are the key principles often applied by social workers in the design of poverty reduction strategies and in fostering social integration. 

Means such as tested and universal income and transfer programmes like social security benefits have an anti-poverty effect; they move families whose pre-transfer income was below the poverty line to a point at or above the threshold. The taxation system is also used, to some degree.

Expanded social assistance

The Kenya Kwanza Alliance’s political manifesto suggests that the government, and President William Ruto in particular, are aware of the need for expanded social assistance. It notes that Kenyans face lifecycle vulnerabilities such as poverty amongst children, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

Current social assistance programmes reach only 7.5 per cent of children living in poverty. Nearly 85 per cent of adult workers are in the informal sector, missing out on the social insurance benefits of formal employment, where employers are required to pay half of the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) fees for workers.

That is why the government is implementing its promise to establish a universal social security system encompassing pension, occupational hazards and unemployment insurance.

It is good to note that the government has retained the universal social pension for people over 70, through the National Social Protection Fund. 

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