KEPSA participated in the National Leaders Conference on Population and Development on 27th May 2021 organized by the National Council for Population and Development. The conference was organized as part of the stakeholder consultations to guide the development of the draft National Population Policy.
KEPSA was represented by Ms. Mercy Waithanji – a member of the Devolution and Planning Sector and the Gender and Youth Development Sector Board. She made a presentation on the “Role of Private Sector in Supporting Population and Development Programs: Lessons From KEPSA.”
Kenya’s economy is largely driven by the private sector which contributes over 70% of GDP and jobs. This makes it a key stakeholder in the planning and implementation of population development programmes. To the private sector, the population provides a ready market for goods and services, as well as the human capital required to run business, innovation and entrepreneurship. For Kenya to achieve its Vision of a rapidly industrializing middle-income economy by 2030, the largely youthful population must be well equipped and empowered to drive the transformation.
Key concerns in realizing the balance between population and development include rapid population growth (2.6%) compared to job creation – leads to a high youth unemployment rate.; high dependency ratio – which adds extra burden on the working population; affects savings and investment. Congestion in major cities: This fuels growth of informal settlements and strains available infrastructure including housing, transport, water and waste management systems, energy, healthcare, education and other services. Unsustainable utilization of available resources leads to environmental degradation, pollution and increasing climate change vulnerabilities.
KEPSA supports the government development agenda including the Big 4, Vision 2030, the Medium-Term Plan III (MTPs) and the budget-making process by providing input, championing for sufficient resourcing of key sectors and improving the business environment to grow local enterprises and attract investment. Development Programs under KEPSA Foundation, the social arm of KEPSA: include Better Business Practices for Children – aims at leveraging and scaling up private sector intervention in improving Maternal Infant and Young Child Nutrition practices. Key outcomes include the set-up of lactation centers for breastfeeding workers, extended maternity leave, reaching out to women in low urban settlements to ensure improvement in health and nutrition outcomes of women and children.
Sustainable Inclusive Business Kenya (SIB-K) – supported by the Embassy of Netherlands to promote adoption of an integrated approach among businesses that incorporates finding a balance between people, the environment (planet) and profits. Africa Venture Philanthropy Alliance (AVPA) –seeks to accelerate social Impact Investment in Kenya. PAMOJA IMARA humanitarian support platform – convened by the Multi-sectorial Forum for COVID-19 response brings together members of different sectors and organizations involved in humanitarian aid to synergize efforts towards offering humanitarian support during the COVID-19 crisis.
Lessons from KEPSA are that partnerships with government and development partners are key in catalyzing impact investment into projects aimed at improving the welfare of Kenyans and marginalized groups. The public sector can leverage the vast number of private facilities and technology to provide innovative solutions to population challenges such as digital health, family planning, community sensitization/awareness campaigns, etc.
Opening up avenues to market investment opportunities in the counties with an aim to increase job creation will assist reduce rural-urban migration. This entails also championing for an improved business environment at the national and county level to support the growth of small businesses, access financing and market opportunities.
Inclusive approaches that target youth and women empowerment programs to make them more active economically include training and mentorships, apprenticeship opportunities, financing opportunities e.g. by leveraging the Credit Guarantee Scheme by the government, etc.
Multi-stakeholder collaborations can support the against fight backward social/cultural practices such as early marriages, provision of basic needs like dignity kits, support programs for young mothers, orphan vulnerable children (OVC), persons living with disabilities (PWDs), street families, among others to empower this category of society to earn a decent livelihood.