Published on November 4, 2021

Enhanced Single Registry for Social Protection in Kenya

A central point of truth for transforming the delivery of social protection interventions

Social Protection in Kenya has continued to grow in leaps and bounds since 2004. Social Protection interventions aim at ensuring that all Kenyans live in dignity and are able to meet their social and economic needs. A primary driver of these interventions is the Enhanced Single Registry. ESR has been under development since 2020 through the Joint UNSDG Fund for social protection as one of the key output. WFP Social Protection unit is the led on the development of ESR.

ESR is a socio-economic database of the poor and vulnerable households that automates the social registry and the integrated beneficiary registry components. The aim of ESR is to deliver transformative social protection services that promote food and nutrition security, access to health services, education, enhance incomes and capabilities and address issues of social justice and exclusion of vulnerable groups.




ESR comprises of web based and mobile modules. It has the capability to manage data from predictable social protection programmes under the National Safety Net Programme (NSNP) and shock responsive social protection programmes such as for Covid-19 and drought response.  This has been achieved by building in functions for the management of beneficiary data and multiple social protection interventions run by a variety of actors including government and non-government actors. The new components place the ESR as a digital service that promotes inclusion, efficiency and effectiveness, accuracy and integrity as well as a mechanism for accountability and empowerment of the beneficiaries.




ESR has aided in the planning and coordination work by the NSPS. Furthermore, the current ESR enables programmes to scale up by topping up benefits and registration of beneficiaries thus first-tracking interventions seeking to expand both vertically (increase value or depth of intervention) and horizontally (include more beneficiaries).

The ESR is now live from July 2021. The social registry component was used to register beneficiaries at county level, in specific two counties of Makueni and Vihiga. The registration was successful and surpassed 90% of the targeted beneficiaries. This indicates that vulnerable groups wish to access social protection interventions and are open to having their data stored within the ESR. The NSPS, further hopes to collect data of potential beneficiaries in a total of 17 counties following a phased data collection and data review processes.

So far, the ESR holds data for over 1 million beneficiaries spread across four national cash transfer programmes and over 100,000 households from two Counties (Makueni and Vihiga) registered on the Social Registry module in July 2021. the Government of Kenya has prioritized registration of households in a total of 17 counties. The County governments are also heavily involved in the data collection process through the deployment of resources to carry out the household listing, verification and registration processes. The goal is that in the coming months, the ESR will capture data from vulnerable groups that can be accessed by both the government and non-government actors who implement social protection interventions.

However, while the population of ESR is quite well paced, its use and adoption as a central point of truth for social protection is lagging behind. The National Social Protection Secretariat (NSNP) and UN partners are currently engaged in advocacy efforts to raise awareness and position ESR as the one stop shop on data collection and use for social protection. The primary target is the government ministries and agencies that intend or are already delivering social protection interventions including health, education, drought management, labour and livelihoods to mention but a few.

Similarly, non-government actors such as the UN who regularly implement cash-based transfers as well as broader social protection interventions are yet to fully utilize the components of the ESR. Overall, continuous advocacy of the ESR at national and county level remains a major objective of the NSPS.

There is also a need to better understand the objectives and requirements of these actors to build a strong demand for the use of ESR. This would entail having a deeper understanding on what would motivate the actors to utilize the ESR and on the same breadth what would deter them. These two positions would be critical for NSPS to understand in order to better leverage the motivations to utilize the ESR while at the same time addressing concerns that these actors would have.

From a regional perspective, the lessons learnt in the Kenyan experience will be documented and disseminated online through South to South and Triangular Corporation initiative.

In addition to advocacy, it is also important for establish bilateral engagements between NSPS who will be required primarily to ensure that the actors understand the valuable features of the ESR and for NSPS to better understand the specific needs and concerns as well as ensure to enhance the understanding on the rules of engagement including the ESR data collection guidelines. Memoranda of understanding may need to be signed as well as the data sharing protocols that have been developed for the ESR.

In summary, the last two years of the ESR lifecycle has been focused on developing systems and implementing activities as well as collecting and managing data The next few years will see greater focus on operationalizing the ESR including building linkages and integrating activities with the various actors in social protection sector. This is aimed at driving the demand for the use of the ESR as a central point of truth for social Protection interventions.