THROUGH THE LENS OF INEQUALITY

Ending Poverty Means Fostering Equality 

The SDG 1 focuses on creating a world where everyone, with much emphasis placed on the poorest and the most vulnerable, enjoys equal rights to resources in order for states across the globe to achieve a more inclusive and sustainable growth. On account of that, one of the key areas(targets) is implementing nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all. This could be termed as a very crucial method of reaching out to all members that make up any society. However, most states in Africa are still grappling with establishing and implementing sustainable safety nets to its most vulnerable citizens.

WHAT ARE SOCIAL PROTECTION SYSTEMS?

These are policy interventions or programmes that are formed with the sole purpose of reducing social and economic inequalities in a nation. Social protection systems in Kenya therefore are aimed at ensuring all Kenyans live in dignity, exploit their human capabilities in a bid to achieve both social and economic development in the country.

A good social protection scheme addresses risks or economic shocks, vulnerability and social exclusion. Only then can they better work to:

Reduce poverty by providing economic security to all members of the society

Mitigate inequality; a good example is empowering women and girls to actively take part in nation building

Supporting a more inclusive growth; development that puts into consideration all social classes, casts, and cultures because nations or regions are made up of fragmented populations with different needs. What works for a state may not necessarily create significant growth if applied in another state.

Build human Capital; work to expand the economic value of people’s abilities and qualities of labour that ultimately influence their productivity. We are no longer looking at mere access to education but rather access to quality education and training.

Responding to economic shocks. The COVID19 Pandemic is a typical example of how lacking a well-structured contingency plan can greatly impact a country’s economy pushing back years of progress in eradicating extreme poverty.

In Kenya, social protection schemes are entrenched in 3 main ways:

Social assistance

Social security and

Social health insurance

It is within the 3 primary areas that we get smaller units that include: food distribution, financial inclusion; cash transfers and microfinance, school based feeding programmes, health insurance covers, retirement benefits, price subsidies, various public works for the youth.

Kenya continues to witness a significant increase in the number of safety net programmes targeting the poor and vulnerable groups. This has been made possible through decades of review and reformation of previous policies, partnerships with international humanitarian groups that have played a remarkable role in offering financial assistance and to a large extent the constitution through its various provisions. In addition to this the devolved government has also played a crucial role in reducing geographical inequalities by channeling financial resources to remote subnational units.

Nonetheless, there are still gaps that need to be filled in order to eradicate extreme poverty at its entirety through these social safety nets. Notable challenges facing many states in Africa range from inadequate funding as most of the time countries depend on external financing. It is also as a result of limited financial resources that countries in Africa tend to use less advanced data collection techniques. Also, social protection initiatives that are meant to reduce the stark development gaps, end up targeting ineligible groups. This could be as a result of poor coordination by stakeholders, corruption among other factors.

As a young person, how has the implementation of national protection systems and measures impacted you or the people in your community?

What are the areas that you feel policymakers should put keen interest in in order to achieve SDG 1?

What are your thoughts on the proposed amendments to the NHIF Act? Do you think the amendment if well implemented will benefit all Kenyans?

READ MORE J

https://www.unicef.org/esaro/PER-and-Sector-Review-of-Social-Protection-in-Kenya-(2017).pdf

https://www.socialprotection.or.ke/about-sps/introduction-to-social-protection

https://live.worldbank.org/building-human-capital-future-generation

https://www.ilo.org/Africa/countries-covered/Tanzania/WCMS_549369/lang—en/index.htm

https://www.unicef.org/kenya/social-policy-and-social-protection

 

SDG 1: Equal Rights to Economic Resources

By Diana Dorine

dorinediana@gmail.com

 

One of the key targets to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal number 1 is to ensure everyone in our societies enjoy equal rights to economic resources. Emphasis in made on minority groups and people living in impoverished areas. Economic resources could be termed as assets or services that we use to produce goods/products and services that meet the needs and wants of people. Economists would term economic resources as simply factors of production.

These resources include land/property, labour, and most importantly, capital. Equal rights to these elements therefore mean that all members of a given society can access basic services such as education and healthcare, ownership; control over land and other forms of property, natural resources, financial services i.e microfinance, and access to appropriate new technology.

There are numerous provisions in national and international laws that safeguard individuals against practices tha seek to infringe the most vulnerable members of our societies from enjoying these rights. The constitution of Kenya has provisions under the Bull of Rights; states clearly the Social and Economic rights to all Kenyan citizens. Nonetheless, what is in the law and what is in practice are two different things all together.

Eradicating poverty in all its forms everywhere by 2030 means, for most states in Africa, closing Africa’s wealth gap. Initially, nations around the globe were focusing on stimulating economic growth. This approach however, proved to be less effective because the poor, who make up a much larger percentage of of people living in Africa, most times may not necessary benefit from growing markets. Instead, market-friendly reforms that enable the poor to participate freely and fairly in markets rather than the common narrative of governments controlling investments in key sectors of an economy, are now in greater focus for policy influencers. This fosters a healthier, and more competitive markets where governments no longer determine prices, output, and allocation of resources. On that account, there was a radical shift of focus by nations  all over the world, through the UN deliberations, to address issues that prevent a majority of people from improving their lives. A shift from Millenium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals in 2012.

Areas of  Focus

In order for a country to ensure all citizens enjoy the right to access the above mentioned factors of production, we should look into:

creating prosperity rather than alleviating poverty; addressing the entrenched income inequality in most states in Africa that result to a few people accumulating wealth in excess while a majority of the population is made up of people surviving on less than $ 1.25 a day. it is due to these unresponsive wage structures that most people are disenfranchised, may not live to own land or properties, fail to get skilled jobs in the first place thus putting them at a much higher risk of being denied access to basic services such as quality health care , huge disparities in education and failure to implement proper social safety nets.

Creating prosperity rather than alleviating poverty focuses on social and economic growth for the poor rather than encouraging tokenism. after all, policies that are meant to reduce poverty are not necessarily the same as those that will mitigate income inequality/economic inequality.

Africa’s two-track economic structure further derails progress as local entrepreneurs have to grapple with tough regressive taxes to keep their businesses afloat. when we consider growth patterns over growth rate, we are a step ahead in tackling inequality. there is less inequality when growth is in labour intensive sectors such as agriculture, and not in sectors high in capital and the use of skilled labour like say real estate.

Corruption. Multibillion projects in most African states are usually characterized by corruption rearing its ugly head before the implementation or completion stages. It is due to corruption from the top going down that bring about marginalization of certain geographical regions; that is, social and political exclusion of minority ethnic and religious groups thus resulting to social unrest i.e protests and rebellion from citizens and civil societies.

Leveraging the new technology in achieving SDG 1

As young people, we are no longer looking at the traditional ways of  doing things. So do not be left out. We may not be in a position to influence policymaking procedures all the time but we surely can do something about income or economic inequality. We are a generation that can access information with ease at any given time. We can join hands, unite through online platforms to discuss issues and ideas, we can access learning platforms to sharpen our skill and expand our knowledge on important issues affecting our societies. through the new technologies we can build systems that create jobs for others and empower others to become the best versions of  themselves . READ MORE

https://www.undp.org/blogs/youth-and-technology-5-ways-were-changing-world