The Oscillating State’s Role in the Provision of Social Welfare Services in Kenya
Mwenzwa, Ezekiel Mbitha
Waweru, Sammy Mwangi
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The provision of social services in the global south has largely remained the role of governments with the private sector playing a peripheral role. At Kenya’s independence in 1963, provision of social services was solely the role of government. This was to remain so until the adoption of Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) as prescribed by World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), which called on government to roll back in provision of social services. Guided by neoliberal theory, provision of social services was later to be characterized by the introduction of user charges, cost sharing initiatives and privatization to augment the role of the private sector in this regard. However, over time Kenya has witnessed the resurgence of the state, especially during the President Mwai Kibaki era (2002-2012), in the provision of these services. Since then the Government of Kenya has continuously strengthened its role in this endeavor as it were conceived at independence. The gist of this paper is to examine the oscillation of the state in provision of social welfare services in independent Kenya. It is observed that politics has weighed heavily on the provision of social welfare services even as external prescriptive pressure has undermined state functioning in this regard. Nevertheless, increased tax collection has given Kenyan state leverage to sustain provision of welfare services. However institutionalization of welfare provision still faces challenges of resources, capacity and accountability. Finally, the paper evaluates merits and demerits of each welfare regime and recommends the way forward to revitalize provision of social welfare services and augment human welfare in the country.