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Kenya’s Single Registry is a policy tool that enables the government of Kenya to link together the Management Information Systems (MISs) of social protection programmes in Kenya across the National Social Protection Policy (NSPP) thematic areas of income security, social health insurance, shock responsive social protection and Complementary social protection. The Single Registry currently links principally five social assistance schemes (the Old Age Grant, Disability Benefit, Orphans and Vulnerable Children’s Cash Transfer, Hunger Safety Net programme, and World Food Programme’s (WFP) Cash for Assets scheme). Furthermore, the Single Registry is linked to the Integrated Population Registration System (IPRS), so that programme beneficiaries can be authenticated by their national ID numbers.  Broadly, the aim is to expand the Single Registry linkages to include social security and health insurance so as to make it an effective tool for monitoring social protection interventions at the national and county levels.

Enhanced Single Registry (ESR) is the socio-economic database of the poor and vulnerable households in Kenya. The foremost objective of the ESR is to collect, update and link data of households and persons in poverty and help programs to select and provide services to beneficiaries.

The ESR establishes the most inclusive eligibility criteria possible for the purpose of data collection so as to encompass most programs.  It also provides the basic data that most programs need to select beneficiaries. 

Since the inception of the cash transfers in 2004, the programs were operating independent management information systems. In 2014 the state department for social protection developed a single registry whose purpose is to create a platform that integrates data from all the four CT programs run by the government. Recently in Kenya, each of the programs feeding into the Single Registry has been performing their own registration processes. This approach by the programs resulted in overlapping activities with possibilities of collecting data from persons living in households already registered by another program. This often resulted in community fatigue, inefficient use of resources and a lack of standardized data. The rationale for the ESR is that as social protection coverage grows, integrating and harmonizing data collection efforts can achieve greater efficiency gains.

Main Objective:-

The main objective of the ESR is to collect, update and link data of households and persons in poverty and help programs to select and provide services to beneficiaries.

Other objectives include:

To allow promotion of social protection policies/programmes that link individuals to different protection interventions along the life cycle.

To enable roll out of specific responses to particular emergency/shock situations in specific counties and geographical locations to boost resilience.

To facilitate linkages to pertinent complementary services.


So far data from 2,061,518 poor and vulnerable households from 24 counties has been collected and updated in the ESR. 

What is Universal Child Benefit?

UCB is unconditional cash payment paid on regular basis to the whole population of children (paid to caregivers). UCB is among the priority schemes in the Draft Kenya Social Protection Policy, Social Protection Investment Plan, Sector Review and Strategy. 

Introduction to UCB in Kenya

In 2019 UN, member states together with policy practitioners, researchers and the international community explored the possibility of rolling out a UCB for member states that had not already rolled out: Kenya participated in this conference.

Global Justification : 

  • Investing in children is smart economics and it is strategic, when countries invest in children they are investing in Human Capital
  • It maximises on other important investments like health, education and countries are able to get better value for broader government spending
  • It supports nutritional health: receiving adequate nutrition in the first 1000 days is critical for cognitive development, enhances performance and transition rate.
  • Poverty targeting excludes majority of children in poor households
  • Serves as an economic stimulus through increased consumption. Research shows every shilling injected into an economy generate additional 0.3% - 0.8% of a shilling.
  • Universal programmes are more effective as shock response as they tackle universal adverse impact of any crisis

Rationale for UCB in Kenya

  • The need of a UCB in Kenya is based on the following arguments:
  • Most children are living on low incomes and have been affected by the financial consequences of the COVID-19 crisis;
  • Higher Return on Investment: Investing in children has very high economic returns.
  • A universal benefit will ensure that no child will be left behind and the errors associated with poverty targeting can be eliminated, it will provide regular cash transfer to every child;
  • A universal benefit is administratively easier to implement than a poverty-targeted benefit; and, 
  • The Right to Social Protection: International Instruments on the Rights of the Child and the Constitution Kenya (2010); Article 43
  • A universal scheme will engender much greater support in communities than a poverty-targeted scheme, which may be regarded as unfair. 
  • UCB is among the priority schemes in the Draft Kenya Social Protection Policy, Social Protection Investment Plan, Sector Review and Strategy

UCB Pilot Project: High-Level Design of A Pilot For A Universal Child Benefit For Kenyan Response To Covid-19

  • Was done under affixed budget of US $800,000 that UNICEF had
  • Targeted 8,300 children to be reached by the pilot, initial registration, including community validation had 8,119 children registered. 
  • 2019 Census Data was used for children aged 0-36 months
  • The three Counties and Sub Counties chosen were: Kajiado County in Kajiado Central, Embu County in Mbeere North & Kisumu Countyin Nyando
  • The three Counties were also selected due to the relatively high stunting rates with Embu 30.1%. Kajiado 29.8% and Kisumu 22.7% slightly lower than the National average which is 26%.

Objectives of the UCB pilot

The key objectives of the UCB pilot are to: 

  • Cushioning children and their families from the lasting socioeconomic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic
  • Generating evidence and lessons in preparation for a long-term UCB including the impact of cash associated with child nutrition and protection complementary services
  • Strengthening advocacy efforts and visibility for the UCB
  • Provide an economic stimulus for an inclusive recovery

Eligibility criteria

Key eligibility criteria are as follows:

  • Beneficiary children must be under 3 years of age (aged 0-36 months) at the time of registration and Kenyan citizens (this is shown by National ID of caregiver, Birth Certificates/Birth Notification of child, Foster Care Certificate)
  • Children must be members of a household ; the caregiver must be a resident of the locations identified for the pilot and must have been a resident for a minimum period of 12 months
  • The pilot programme will be universal for all children aged 0-36 months in the household. There is no cap on the number of children to be registered within the household, as long as they meet eligibility criteria.
  • If households are in receipt of another cash transfer, they are still eligible for the UCB
  • Moreover, a child must belong to one household and to one caregiver; a caregiver may have more than one child and a household may have more than one caregiver; child headed households shall have a caregiver with the required documentation