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Ten Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) came together in 2018 to interrogate and give input on the Kenya national budget estimates for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018/2019. These organizations raised a number of issues which I am reflecting on in this article.

There proposals focused on education, environment, health, infrastructure, sanitation, housing, transport, mental health, maternal newborn and child health (MNCH), informal trade and transport among other sectors.

These organizations are interested in promoting improved service delivery and improving public participation in the budgeting process.

Africa Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) revealed that sanitation is allocated under the following sectors: Ministry of Water and Sanitation; Ministry of Health; Ministry of Environment and Forestry; Under the State Department for Housing, Urban Development and Public Works sewer extensions and construction of sanitary facilities are mentioned.

The above dispersal of resources meant for sanitation services led to a call by APHRC to call for a specific budget line for Sanitation. The organization argued further, that having a dedicated state department or even Ministry for Sanitation lead to effectiveness in management of sanitation in Kenya.

APHRC raised concerns on the low absorption of resources allocated to the Ministry of Health (MOH). For instance in FY 2015/2016 the MOH was allocated Ksh. 21.9 billion but only Ksh. 17.6 billion was spent.

APHRC called for allocation of resources towards establishment of Fecal Sludge Treatment Plants in order to create employment and improve Kenya’s sanitation status. Here is how the organization argued for this case: Besides allocation for Waste Water Treatment Plants (WWTPs), the country needs Fecal Sludge Treatment Plants (FSTPs) at key designated areas e.g. near the tipping point in Ruai (where exhausters dump the fecal waste) to effectively manage the slurry, and expand economic opportunities through recycling of byproducts e.g. production of KEBS approved briquettes for energy solutions, and organic fertilizer for agriculture.

Finally, APHRC called for creating an enabling environment for Non-Sewered technologies e.g. creating subsidies for non-state actors who produce the technologies, and/or services? This should include proper regulations and guidelines for operators along the sanitation service value chain (containment-emptying-transport-recycle/reuse), including manual emptiers. This was based on the fact that most citizens will not be connected to the sewerage system due to the high costs associated to sewer expansion as well as maintenance. This is a brighter idea for the short term.

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Institute of Public Finance  IPF Kenya 

IPF Kenya raised a number of pertinent issues on education in Kenya. The organization noted that the Research and University Education has been given priority in Kenya’s national budget estimates for Financial Year 2018/2019. The national government is planning to enroll more students to pursue University education in Kenya. However, there was no information in the budget estimates to indicate how the recently concluded Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) would be handled considering that it is not even mentioned in the narrative part of the budget estimates. Further, there is only a Ksh. 2 billion budgetary increase when the budget for University education is compared to that of FY 2017/2018. How else will the lecturers be paid their salaries. We all know that, if something is not in the budget, then the state is not committed towards its provision.

Therefore, The Institute of Public Finance called upon the national government to be clearer on this matter. Secondly, the Institute called for national government to increase funding towards Higher Education Loans Board (HELB). It did not make sense when the state was targeting to increase HELB beneficiaries without increasing the respective allocations. The state was targeting to increase the number of beneficiaries from 247307 to 271,940. “However, the funds proposed for allocation are declining in the period FY 17/18 to 18/19 moving from Kenya shillings 10.3 B to Kenya shillings 10.1 B while the target indicator is increasing.”

The state had two options on this matter. Either, increase the allocation towards HELB or reduce the targets. You and I know that it is easier to reduce the number of beneficiaries than increase the allocation (budget) for HELB.

Finally, with a large populations of Kenyans in Urban areas living in informal settlements and their children receiving education from low cost informal schools, IPF Kenya called upon the national government to “fast-track the registration of APBET schools – in which low fee private schools lie,” and “The state department of education to plan and budget for every child irrespective of the type school they are enrolled in. With immediate expansion of capitation grants to target learners living and schooling in urban informal settlements and especially those enrolled non-government schools. “

PATH Kenya 

First, PATH called for respect for sector ceilings as set out in Budget Policy Statement (BPS) 2018. This call was made after the organization realized that the national treasury has surpassed the sector ceilings by 13% and no explanation was given for that action as required by the Public Finance Management Act, 2012.

Secondly, PATH raised concerns over stagnating budget for Free Maternal Healthcare despite that being one of the leading drivers of Universal Healthcare Coverage under the “Big Four Agenda.”

Health Rights Advocacy Forum (HERAF)

Health Rights Advocacy Forum (HERAF) called for allocation of resources towards collection of mental health data to inform planning. This will sort out the problem of families abandoning or hiding patients who are mentally hill. The national government should invest in statistics on “the actual number of people in need of mental health services, the number already receiving care and the nature of care; the prevalent conditions and their demographic distribution; available human resource for mental health and regional distribution among other indicators.”

HERAF goes further to explain their justification on why the national government should invest on accurate statistics towards tackling the mental health problem in Kenya. They explain that the Kenya Mental Health Policy and Kenya Health Policy (2013-2030) already prioritizes the availability of mental health data as the initial step towards reversing the mental disorders.

If Kenya invests on data, Kenya will stop relying on World Health Organization (WHO) data.

Finally, HERAF called for allocation of resources towards Mental Health Research. In fact, the organization pointed out that, “…the Ministry of Health Research & Development Programme has a total allocation of Ksh. 5.6 billion; utilize some of these funds to undertake mental health research in FY 2018/2019.”

Development Initiatives (DI)

Development Initiatives (DI) made a number of recommendations on Kenya national budget estimates for Financial Year 2018/2018.

  • The targeted number of elderly people to benefit from subsidized health insurance is expected to remain constant at 533, 000 people until 2020/21. While this investment is a positive action to inclusion and providing social protection to the elderly, we recommend that adequate explanation be provided to this target. It is not clear if the target means that an additional 533,000 more people will be enrolled into the programme every year or will the service be available to only 533,000 individuals until 2020/21. The latest Integrated Household Budget Survey indicates that approximately 2.6 million persons over the age of 60 years live in poverty. But the allocations and descriptions in the budget does not provide this contextual information to understand the financing gap needed to include all the elderly in health insurance.

Here is Development Initiatives’ concerns on allocations towards the State Department for ASAL Development:

  • According to the 2015/16 Kenya Integrated Household Budget Survey (KIHBS), 36.1% of the population lives in poverty. Garissa, Busia, Samburu, Mandera, and Turkana have the highest poverty levels – above 65%. Additionally, 32% of the population is food poor, with Turkana having the highest incidence of food poverty at 66.1%. The high poverty levels have led to spending on programmes that directly benefit the poor such as the Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP).  We know that the current HSNP targets households in counties with high poverty incidence. An approximate 100,000 households are targeted to receive routine payments[1]. The 2018/19 programme-based budget estimates however do not provide information on how far we are in reaching all the households in need and what the funding gap is. It is also not clear how poor households in non-ASAL counties are supported.

Oxfam Kenya 

Oxfam largely advocated for Gender Responsive budgeting in Kenya’s national budget estimates. This is an issue on which Oxfam is real passionate. On this matter Oxfam made the following statement: In the budget development process and especially programme based budgets, it is vital to forecast on the potential social and economic implications of budgetary allocations. In this case, Oxfam advocates strongly for a Gender Responsive Budget that neither marginalizes nor discriminates against any group and particularly sets the stage for inclusion of Women as a non-homogenous group. It therefore should reflect on women from a prism of socio-economic status, ethnic affiliation, age and other factors affecting the realization of opportunities emanating from the budget. Fundamentally, budgets need to entrench gender perspectives at each level of the budgetary process and especially revenue and expenditure perspectives to promote gender equality.

Oxfam was not impressed by the fact that NGEC’s budget allocation was reduced from Ksh. 445.8 million in FY 2017/2018 to Ksh. 374.9 million in FY 2018/2019. The organization further argued that The reduction affects the allocation for Public Education, Advocacy and Research. This undermines the ability to assess the implication of budgets from an evidence base as well as public awareness and advocacy to create agency around gender equity.”

On this matter, Oxfam made two strong recommendations. First, they asked the national government to provide additional resources towards funding NGEC’s public education, research and advocacy. Secondly, Oxfam called for further disaggregation of data on gender at the program level in the Programme Based Budget (PBB). For instance, Oxfam points out that Under State Department for Social Protection, 533,333 elderly persons are targeted to benefit but you can’t tell how many women and men will stand to benefit.

The Institute of Social Accountability (TISA)

The Institute of Social Accountability TISA, a locally registered Trust, made a number of recommendations on the national budget estimates focusing on Transport, Informal Trade, Housing and Environment.

TISA raised pertinent issues on public participation in the planning and formulation of Kenya national budget estimates. The organization pointed out that inadequate time was provided for discussion of Budget Policy Statement (BPS) 2018. Secondly, there was inadequate public participation on Sector Working Groups (SWGs) caused by prolonged electioneering period. Finally, Public Participation never happened during the MTP3. These are some of the factors which made TISA to conclude that there was inadequate public participation overall.

TISA looked into the allocation of resources towards affordable housing and social housing in Kenya. On this matter TISA concluded that: “actual allocation towards affordable housing in the estimates isn’t clear as the allocation provided is a block figure to support dev of civil servant and police and prison housing thus a transparency concern.”


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