Kenya will fold three women and youth enterprise funds and set up a state agency tasked with fighting poverty if a proposed law sees the light of day.
A Bill seeking to set up the Poverty Eradication Authority is already in Parliament in what promises to realign poverty reduction schemes under the Ministry of Devolution and Planning.
A kitty to be known as Poverty Eradication Fund will be set up in a move that will effectively consolidate the close to Sh600 million usually set aside for youth and women being used to start it up.
“The initial capital of the fund shall be the consolidated funds from Uwezo Fund, the Youth and Women enterprise funds and shall be a revolving fund replenished at the end of each financial year,” reads the Bill sponsored by Sirisia MP John Waluke.
The authority, which will be tasked with managing all funds channelled to reduce poverty, will also be required to come up with a national eradication plan, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, including counties.
The plan laid out by the authority will be reviewed every five years and will also be used by counties seeking to improve livelihoods at the grassroot.
PEA will be run by a board under a chairperson appointed by the President and will incorporate principal secretaries from the Devolution and Labour ministries, in addition to seven other members appointed by the Devolution CS.
The authority’s chief executive will serve for a five-year term that is renewable once, according to the Bill. Kenya is off target in its efforts to end extreme poverty by 2030, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.
The extremely poor reduced by about 510,000 from a similar period last year and about 2.7 million Kenyans are still likely to be extremely poor by 2030, when the UN set the target date to wipe out extreme poverty.
Its elimination has been among key commitments made by successive regimes since independence but remains a moving target.
Kenya conducted its second integrated household budget survey (hbs) in 2015/16 with those classifieds as under hard-core (extreme) poverty said to have declined significantly by more than half from 19.5 per cent in 2005/06 to 8.6 per cent in 2015/16, with about 84 per cent of the total hard-core poor found in rural areas.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics survey found the extremely poor concentrated in a few counties, with Turkana alone accounting for close to 15 per cent of the hard-core poor in Kenya.
The KNBS report recommended proper resource distribution to help eliminate extreme poverty and address the widening income inequality.
“At the macroeconomic level, the focus should be on the two major potentially complementary factors that can reduce poverty and income inequalities, notably higher overall economic growth; and a shift in the distribution of incomes that favours poorer people.
In addition, strengthened labour markets could reduce disparities through expanding job opportunities by offering opportunities to people previously excluded from growth, such as the low-skilled workers, the youth and women, especially from marginalised areas,” the KNBS wrote.