Social Protection

Building social protection floors
and comprehensive social security systems


10.1 %

SDG 1.3.1 Effective coverage

23.3 %

Affiliated to health insurance

2.1 %

Public expenditure on healthcare

1.0 %

Public expenditure on social protection

Visit the Social Protection Data Dashboards


Situation and Priorities

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Social protection situation

The social protection sector has seen considerable progress, with policies shifting towards universal programmes with a lifecycle approach. Spending has increased year-on-year, although there are still significant coverage gaps in numbers and types of benefits, particularly within the informal economy which forms 83.6% of the workforce (2019).

Contributory social protection is administered through the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) and the National Social Security Fund, which provide access to health care and pensions (old-age, survivors, invalidity) respectively. Coverage of social security and benefit levels remain limited and need to be addressed, despite annual increases in membership. (In 2019, NHIF has 8.5 million members; NSSF has 4.2 million). In 2018, Kenya introduced a universal social pension for persons over the age of 70, the first such scheme in the East African region. Other targeted social assistance programs reached 1.3 million households in 2019.
Visit the Social Protection COVID-19 Monitor


The economic impact of the coronavirus exposed the gaps within Kenya’s social protection system, where only 10.4% of the population is covered in at least one area. Approximately 1 million social assistance beneficiaries received a one-off payment of 8,000 Kenyan shillings (US$74). However, approximately 1.7 million Kenyans lost their jobs through June 2020, which has hastened the demand for the establishment of an unemployment insurance fund. Overall, the effects of COVID-19 has increased the awareness of the importance of a comprehensive social protection system and has presented opportunities for progress in an already conducive political environment.

Government priorities

The Government of Kenya is playing a proactive role in the development of social protection. The revised National Social Protection Policy and the Social Protection Investment Plan have not yet been formally adopted (as of October 2020) due to COVID-19, however they will be aligned with ILO Convention 102 and take a universal approach. Priorities include:
  • Transition the NSSF from a provident fund into a full pension fund
  • Introduce a universal child grant and disability benefit
  • Introduce a maternity income benefit for NHIF members
  • By 2022, increase government investment for social protection to 1% of GDP
  • Reduce medical out-of-pocket expenses by 54% as a percentage of household expenditure by 2022.
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ILO Projects and Programmes

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Over the past 5 years, the ILO has provided technical guidance during the development of the Social Protection Investment Plan (2018), for the development of the National Monitoring and Evaluation Framework for Social Protection (2019), and the development of the National Social Protection Policy. The ILO has also engaged in advocacy efforts around the extension of social protection to the informal economy.

Funding gaps / Support the ILO

  • US$200,000: Conduct a full acturial assessment for an unemployment insurance fund.
  • US$500,000: Continue work in extending social security to the informal economy, and including ensuring programmes are HIV and disability-sensitive.
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Latest news

ILO Experts

Andrew Allieu
Senior Social Protection Specialist
Shana Fabienne Hoehler
Technical Officer, Social Health Protection
Hellen Magutu
National Project Coordinator