Impact of social pensions on multiple dimensions of poverty, subjective wellbeing and solidarity across generations

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: Sch of Economic, Social & Political Sci

Abstract

The number of older persons (aged 60 and above) in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is considerable and is expected to grow faster than anywhere else, increasing from 46 million in 2015 to 157 million by 2050. A majority of older Africans continue to reside in rural areas. However, an increasing number live in cities and other urban areas, often in informal settlements or 'slums' within contexts of chronic poverty. Over the past decade a growing number of SSA countries, such as Kenya, have introduced or expanded social pension programmes for vulnerable older people as a means to securing their livelihoods and enhancing their well-being. Kenya's Older Persons Cash Transfer Programme (OPCTP) was piloted in 2007 and has since expanded to reach over 164,000 beneficiaries with monthly stipends of US$23.

The readiness of governments such as Kenya's to invest in such schemes has been spurred by evidence, largely from South Africa's long established social pension, of positive impacts of pension grants on beneficiary households. Such impacts include improvements in the economic, education or health opportunities of younger household members as a result of older beneficiaries' tendency to 'share' their pensions with younger generation kin. Much less attention however has been paid to diverging analyses that raise concerns over the impacts of social pensions on the well-being of older beneficiaries and inter-generational cohesion within their households and families. Such evidence suggests that younger and older generations' competing claims, and dependencies on the pension funds, create inter-generational conflict, often leading to violence and abuse directed at the older beneficiary.

To date, little systematic empirical research has been conducted on the effects of the social pension scheme in Kenya, or of similar schemes in other SSA countries outside South Africa. As Kenya considers a further expansion of the pension scheme, profound knowledge gaps remain about the nature and drivers of household and individual-level and inter- generational impacts of the OPCTP and its overall effects on the well-being of older beneficiaries and their families in urban and rural contexts. A grasp of these areas is critical if governments are to fully understand and harness the potential of social pensions as a vehicle for broad poverty alleviation across age-groups, and the family transfers and norms that underpin this role.

This research seeks to generate robust, urgently needed evidence to address the critical knowledge gaps in order to inform policy debates and thinking on the further development of the OPCTP and similar schemes in SSA, and to advance academic debates on poverty dynamics by contributing new theoretical perspectives on the ways in which family inter- generational relationships and transfers shape younger and older individuals' opportunities (or a lack thereof) for moving out of poverty. Evidence generation will focus on two informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenya, in which one of the project partners, APHRC, runs a demographic and health surveillance site, and will comprise both (i) quantitative analyses of existing data on older residents' households, to identify how the wellbeing of OPCTP beneficiaries has changed since receipt of the pension and (ii) extensive interviews with community informants and a sample of older pension beneficiaries and key members of their kin-networks, to explore their experiences and perspectives on the OPCTP and the ways in which it has impacted their lives.

Planned Impact

The proposed study will seek to impact policy, academic and public audiences and debates at national level in Kenya, regional level in sub-Saharan Africa and global level. The study has three confirmed policy partners (one national, two regional) who have expressed interest and commitment to engage with the proposed project (see letters of support).

Expected national-level policy impacts will centre on the generation and brokering of strategic, evidence based insights on the role of-, and approaches to harnessing the OPCTP as a vehicle for poverty alleviation across age-groups to key decision makers, planners and operations managers. The Department of Social Development at the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Services operating the OPCTP and who are responsible for coordinating government action on issues of ageing, is a major partner. The findings from the study will beneficial to the Ministry by informing on the operational issues and challenges of the OPCTP and facilitate the capacity of the Ministry through providing a knowledge base in order to refine the administration of the scheme. Further the knowledge on the impacts and implications of the scheme (both positive and negative) at individual, household, and community level will enhance the Ministry's capacity for effective review and refinement of policy guiding the social protection programme. Through participation in the design of data collection tools the study will enhance the Ministry's capacity to design an effective nationwide assessment of the OPCTP's impacts and implications. The proposed research will serve as a critical pilot or pre-cursor to help shape such a national assessment which the Ministry has identified as a need in order to inform further expansion of the scheme. Other national-level partners include national ministries or agencies concerned with poverty reduction such as the Ministry of Planning, the Treasury, the Gender and Equality Commission, Vision 2030 Secretariat and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights. County administrations which are already actively engaged in, or are considering, a supplementation of the OPCTP through county-level funds are other beneficiaries.

At regional level, anticipated policy impacts will be secured through the sharing of key emerging principles and perspectives that need to inform SSA thinking on the poverty alleviating role and further development of schemes such as the OPCTP. One of the key users will be the Africa Platform for Social Protection which is a network of civil society organisations working at local, national and regional levels to promote active engagement of civil society organisations in advocacy for, and the shaping of social protection policies, programmes and practices in Africa. The findings from study will enhance the capacity of the network members located across Africa to develop evidence-based, focused policy advocacy on both (i) the 'case' for old age social protection schemes and (ii) necessary implementation approaches. At the regional level, the research will also be beneficial to the Department of Social Affairs of the African Union (AU) which is responsible for promoting the Africa-wide implementation of the AU Social Policy Framework which places central emphasis on the forging and expansion of social protection mechanisms. In addition to tailored outputs, the potential impact of the research on policy audiences and debates will be enhanced through the explicit collaborative partnership forged with the Ministry for the purpose of developing and realising the proposed project, as well as strong existing links with the AU and the Africa Platform for Social Protection.

Consultations and deliberations with the key non-academic end users have been on-going as part of the proposal writing and this will continue throughout the life of the project to maximize on the utility of the research.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description The project sought to investigate whether a 2-stage process combining community-based selection with a proxy means-test correctly identifies targeted vulnerable older people. The results show that based on money metric measures and in line with eligibility guidelines, the selection process does identify the correct recipients and no evidence of elite favoring was found.

The cash transfer programme improved the beneficiaries' perception of financial wellbeing, however more still needs to be done to improve the living standard of older people living in slums. The benefits of the social pension extends beyond the primary beneficiary with 30 percent of the beneficiaries making direct financial transfer to secondary beneficiaries mainly grandchildren and children of the primary beneficiary.
Exploitation Route The findings have been disseminated widely among key stakeholders and this will be followed up to assess the uptake of the findings in influencing policy and practice.
Sectors Government, Democracy and Justice

 
Description One of the objectives of the Impact of Social Pensions project is to understand how the beneficiaries of the social pension utlize their benefit. The key finding emerging is that the beneficiaries utilize their benefit mostly to cover health-related expenses. This specific funding was very significant to the National Social Protection Secretariat and the Division of Older Persons and Social Welfare in Kenya as they were transitioning to a universal scheme from the current means-tested scheme. In the proposed new scheme which starts in 2018, all the cash transfer beneficiaries will be automatically enrolled in the national health insurance scheme. The finding that beneficiaries of the cash transfer programme use a significant proportion of the benefit on healthcare expenses provides evidence and justification for the proposed universal scheme.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Description GCRF Strategic Development Fund
Amount £24,150 (GBP)
Organisation University of Southampton 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2018 
End 03/2019
 
Title Qualitative data collection tools 
Description Comprehensive qualitative data collection tools have been designed to generate data on perspectives on, and experiences of, the Older Persons Cash Transfer Programme (OPCTP). The following tools have been developed. (i). The focus group discussion (FGD) tool is used to collect data from members of the a Community Advisory Committee in order to enhance the level of community engagement with research activities. (ii). A key informant interview (KII) tool with individuals engaged in local level beneficiary selection and disbursement of OPCTP funds. These includes programme officers at constituency level and members of the local organizing committee at the community level. (iii). In-depth interviews (IDI) guide for primary beneficiaries or recipients of the OPCTP. (iv) In-depth interview guide for members of primary beneficiaries' kin network including those who the are directly benefiting from the cash transfer received by the primary beneficiary. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The implementation of the tools and data collection started in January 2018 and is on-going at the time of submitting this report in March 2018.. 
 
Description Impact Initiative 
Organisation Institute of Development Studies
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We are working with the Impact Initiative team to produce joint articles or research and policy outputs with researchers are University of Brunel who are working on a similar project in Lesotho. Our contribution will be to contribute to the production of articles or products which are yet to be determined
Collaborator Contribution The collaborating partners will also contribute to the production of these research and policy articles or products. The partners based at Brunel will take a lead in the collaboration
Impact The outputs are still under negotiation
Start Year 2018
 
Description Stakeholders on ageing issues in Kenya 
Organisation Government of Kenya
Department National Council For Population And Development
Country Kenya 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The research team comprising University of Southampton and Kenyatta University invited the stakeholders as collaborators and partners on the project in order to have a buy-in and input from stakeholders working on ageing issues in Kenya. Memorandums of understanding in the form of terms of reference and engagement were drafted to initiate formal partnership. The partners signed the terms of reference following a review and discussion of the expectations.
Collaborator Contribution The institutions have designated key staff members to work on the partnership and the staff costs are covered as in-kind contributions. The partners offer to host meetings on rotation basis and this is similarly covered as in-kind contributions
Impact A quantitative questionnaire covering issues of health and wellbeing of older people in Kenya which is adapted to the local cultural and social context.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Stakeholders on ageing issues in Kenya 
Organisation HelpAge International
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The research team comprising University of Southampton and Kenyatta University invited the stakeholders as collaborators and partners on the project in order to have a buy-in and input from stakeholders working on ageing issues in Kenya. Memorandums of understanding in the form of terms of reference and engagement were drafted to initiate formal partnership. The partners signed the terms of reference following a review and discussion of the expectations.
Collaborator Contribution The institutions have designated key staff members to work on the partnership and the staff costs are covered as in-kind contributions. The partners offer to host meetings on rotation basis and this is similarly covered as in-kind contributions
Impact A quantitative questionnaire covering issues of health and wellbeing of older people in Kenya which is adapted to the local cultural and social context.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Stakeholders on ageing issues in Kenya 
Organisation Kenya National Bureau of Statistics
Country Kenya 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The research team comprising University of Southampton and Kenyatta University invited the stakeholders as collaborators and partners on the project in order to have a buy-in and input from stakeholders working on ageing issues in Kenya. Memorandums of understanding in the form of terms of reference and engagement were drafted to initiate formal partnership. The partners signed the terms of reference following a review and discussion of the expectations.
Collaborator Contribution The institutions have designated key staff members to work on the partnership and the staff costs are covered as in-kind contributions. The partners offer to host meetings on rotation basis and this is similarly covered as in-kind contributions
Impact A quantitative questionnaire covering issues of health and wellbeing of older people in Kenya which is adapted to the local cultural and social context.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Stakeholders on ageing issues in Kenya 
Organisation Ministry of Health, Kenya
Country Kenya 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The research team comprising University of Southampton and Kenyatta University invited the stakeholders as collaborators and partners on the project in order to have a buy-in and input from stakeholders working on ageing issues in Kenya. Memorandums of understanding in the form of terms of reference and engagement were drafted to initiate formal partnership. The partners signed the terms of reference following a review and discussion of the expectations.
Collaborator Contribution The institutions have designated key staff members to work on the partnership and the staff costs are covered as in-kind contributions. The partners offer to host meetings on rotation basis and this is similarly covered as in-kind contributions
Impact A quantitative questionnaire covering issues of health and wellbeing of older people in Kenya which is adapted to the local cultural and social context.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Ending Pension Poverty discussion panel 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The event held in London titled 'Ending Pensioner Poverty was organised by the Impact Initiative as past of the ESRC Festival of Social Science. The event brought together experts, researchers and NGOs to debate the challenges of financial security in old age in sub-Saharan Africa. The
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.theimpactinitiative.net/event/event-ending-pensioner-poverty
 
Description Formal launch and inception meeting with stakeholders 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The aim of the meeting was to (i) formally launch the project, (ii) introduce the project partners to stakeholders and (iii) to discuss the way forward on how the project partners and stakeholders can co-share in knowledge emerging from the project. At the end of the meeting, there was a shared understanding among project partners and stakeholders on the rationale, aims, design and planned implementation of the project. The stakeholders and the project partners agreed on the nature, form, and broad timing of specific partner inputs in the planning of the project activities. Further the meeting agreed on the modalities for project-related communication between partners.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Meeting with the Head of the National Social Protection Secretariaat 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The meeting was convened to present preliminary findings from the project to the Head of the National Social Protection Secretariat (NSPS) of Kenya. The person oversees all social protection programmes. Since the implementation of the cash transfer programme for older person in Kenya in 2006, there has been no detailed evaluation of the programme and the NSPS were keen to understand the successes, weaknesses and challenges from the programme in order to inform their future plans. One of the key emerging finding was that the beneficiaries utilize their benefit mostly to cover health expenses. This specific funding was very significant to the NSPS and the Division of Older Persons and Social Welfare in Kenya as they were transitioning to a universal scheme from the current means-tested scheme. In the proposed new scheme which starts in 2018, all the cash transfer beneficiaries will be automatically enrolled in the national health insurance scheme. The finding that beneficiaries of the cash transfer programme use a significant proportion of the benefit on healthcare expenses provides evidence and justification for the proposed universal scheme.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Preliminary Results Dissemination 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Preliminary findings were presented to stakeholders from various government ministries in Kenya, National Social Protection Secretariat and NGOs based in Nairobi working on ageing and social protection. The one-day event was to to bring together the research team and key policy and civil society partners in the spirit of knowledge co-production in order to jointly address the following key objectives:
(i) Consider and interpret key findings emerging from the Cash Transfer Project
(ii) Reflect on, and distill implications of the findings for policy, practice or further debate across government, private and third-sectors, at national or local levels
(iii) Develop plans regarding the scope, focus and target audiences for a final project dissemination meeting to be convened on 13 June 2019.


The deliberations are expected to yield (i) a set of agreed upon recommendations on implications for policy or practice across various sectors
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019