Deconstructing Demeaning Words in Social Protection in Kenya. Changing the River Flow?

Deconstructing Demeaning Words in Social Protection in Kenya. Changing the River Flow?

Social protection has been initially implemented as welfarist support to poor people especially in Europe, however   in the past decade; Social protection has grown across countries in Africa, with positive impact on a range of wellbeing indicators.
The Kenya Constitution recognizes Social Protection and related measures that safeguard the citizens from shocks and potential to interrupt income as a right. This is explicitly explained in the National Social Protection Policy of 2011.
The design and implementation of State Social protection programmes in Kenya embraces the principles and values of a human rightsbased approach.
This is a conceptual framework that incorporates international human rights standards that  uphold dignity  of the person and right to participation including feedback  and quality of life.
In the recently concluded  Social protection conference at Kenya School of Monetary Studies (KSMS)- March 20th – 22nd , 2018, the Deputy President during his key note address  emphasized the need for  Social protection not only being a right but also  a sacred duty by the government  of Kenya to her  citizens.
He reiterated that  Kenya  government is  currently supporting 1.3million  People  on the four cash transfers and having allocated about 25billion Kenya shillings in the current 2017/2018 financial budget.
In the meeting of January 2018 hosted by The Partnership for African Social &Governance Research (PASGR) and  Africa Platform for Social Protection (APSP) under the Community of Practice – Utafiti Sera Social protection, the issue of language use in Social protection generated a debate around the need to use a rights based language in social protection. There was a concern about using the term beneficiary. It was noted that the term denotes benevolence, yet social protection is an entitlement, and not an act of charity and should be delivered with dignity and empower claimants (not beneficiaries) to become active citizens in defending and protecting their rights rather than being passive recipients.
Reflecting from the above discussions, the following issues manifest for discussion:

  • Human rights standards help to focus development objectives by defining the minimum content of entitlements and obligations against which duty bearers can be held accountable and therefore terminologies within defined context may not be demeaning! .
  • Secondly, both top-down and bottom-up approaches are needed because both community-level and policymakers must be engaged. Programmes that have active government involvement are more successful in the long term, so long as the issue of power balance, participation and right to access to complaints and feedback is incorporated as a right.

In the long term, the danger may not be in the word but in the details!

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