|dc.description.abstract||This study investigates the contribution of Women Self Help Groups (WSHG) to social protection
at the level of the household in rural settings in Kabras location, Kakamega County, Kenya. It is
premised on evidence that shows that in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA), formal social protection
provided by the state is inadequate. Given that most social protection programs in SSA are
externally funded, the rapidly changing global socio-political environment also poses uncertainties
around the sustainability of social protection in the region. The ongoing European refugee crisis
for instance is likely to affect the amount of development aid available to developing countries.
With these realities, majority of the poor people in SSA depend on their personal assets to manage
risks that they are exposed to. This study employs a range of qualitative techniques to determine
how WSHGs provide social protection to poor women in rural Kenya. Through activities such as
merry go round, group savings, table banking, risk spreading and welfare assistance, WSHGs were
found to be effective in providing crucial safety nets that enabled women to prevent, cope and
mitigate risks such as illness and income insecurity and shocks such as death. They also enabled
various capabilities for the women involved in them.
Nonetheless, the inadequacy of the benefits provided through WSHGs and exclusion of poorer,
economically inactive, single and landless women limited the capacity of WSHGs to effectively
deal with poverty, risk and vulnerability. These findings led the researcher to conclude that the
limitations of WSHGs underscore the crucial need for the state to provide universal or categorical
targeted social protection instruments that address all women who reside in rural Kenya. These
should, where possible, build on the already existing informal social protection institutions.
Informal social protection arrangements should be seen as complementary social protection
strategies rather than parallel institutions.||