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Improving public finances to support children’s needs in Kenya

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Nicola Ruddle

Nicola Ruddle, Florian Kratke, Stephanie Allan, Tim Cammack, John Mutua, Grant Beveridge

To ensure successful delivery of programmes that boost children’s development, Kenya needs to improve budgeting and public financial management tools. We were contracted by UNICEF Kenya to work with the National Treasury to develop capacity of Kenyan public servants to improve child-responsive budgeting.

We developed training materials around child-sensitive budgeting, and delivered the training to 50 participants from National Treasury, line ministries, and other central agencies. We also conducted a workshop to train a national team, including representatives of National Treasury (NT), Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research (KIPRA), and Kenya School of Government (KSG), who will provide training to county governments.

The Challenge

Kenya has made a number of commitments to children, including a constitutional obligation for the state to protect and promote the rights of children and other vulnerable groups. To help advance these commitments, the Government is implementing policies around free primary education, free maternal healthcare, cash transfers for orphans and vulnerable children, and school feeding programmes. However, for these programmes to be successful, they need to be effectively planned and budgeted for, with efficient implementation and ongoing monitoring and evaluation.

Our Approach

We conducted a needs assessment to better understand the existing situation in relation to public financial management capacity and budgeting for the needs of children, drawing on existing analysis and literature, as well as interviewing national and county officials.

In consultation with the National Treasury's Budget Director and other stakeholders, we developed a concept note to set out the scope of the proposed training.

We led a three day national training, followed by a three day country training preparation workshop with a national training team, who would go on to train the county government representatives. We developed a set of training materials, covering the rationale for budgeting for children, the needs of children in Kenya, and Kenya's commitments to children, as well as themes around children in plans and budgets, entry points for improving services for children throughout the budget cycle, and value for money and equity in budgeting.

During the second workshop, we further refined and edited the training materials to reflect the counties' needs, before handing over the materials to the national team.

Outcomes and wider impacts

We successfully delivered a workshop with 50 participants from various national institutions, and a selection of county participants, aiming to strengthen their skills and understanding of budgeting processes, monitoring performance, and issues for children. In addition, the workshop contributed to strengthening collaboration across government departments: participants discussed their experiences and viewpoints, allowing different groups to learn from each other, and recognise the issues and pressures faced across the public sector in meeting children's needs.