Consultancy to support refugees’ inclusion into NSSF ‘Haba Haba’ product for workers in the informal economy At International Labour Organization


The Republic of Kenya is a lower middle-income country in Sub-Saharan Africa with 47 semi-autonomous counties governed by elected governors. As per the Kenya Population and Housing Census, 2019 the population is at 47.6 million people, making Kenya the 27th most populous country. The Human Development Index (HDI) was at 0.579 in 2018 ranking the country 147 out of 196 (UNDP, 2018). Economic growth (GDP) has averaged 5.8% between 2010 and 2017 annually and 6.3 per cent in 2018, in tandem with rising per capita incomes; primarily attributable to Kenya’s service sector, particularly in mobile telecom and banking (World Bank, 2018). Despite this positive economic growth and sectoral achievements, poverty persists in Kenya with the Kenya Integrated and Household Survey (KIHBS) 2015/6 indicating that 36% of Kenyan citizens live under the national poverty line with 8.6% being extremely poor. According to KIHBS, 2015/16 poverty rates remain considerably higher in rural areas (40%) compared to peri-urban or core-urban areas (28-29%). In addition, there are differential regional variations, with areas of the northeast in Turkana for example reaching poverty rates close to 80% (NHBS, 2016).

Although, certain factors continue to constrain economic growth and subsequently poverty reduction, such as high population growth, persistent inequality, the stagnation of agriculture, and risks and shocks especially for rural people, Kenya’s Vision 2030 development blueprint seeks to eradicate poverty and to create cohesive and equitable social development in a clean and secure environment. However, 12% of Kenyans are still food-insecure and have poor food-consumption levels and low dietary diversity. The most hunger-prone areas being in the arid and semi-arid regions which tend to be rural. Food-insecurity levels escalate significantly during periods of shocks and crises such as drought, heavy rains, floods and in the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Kenya is further hosting almost 500,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, of which the majority are women and children. Kenya is following an encampment policy and the overwhelming majority of refugees is living in two camps – Dadaab hosting 217,532 and Kakuma hosting 193,941 refugees. An additional 79,785 refugees are living in urban areas (UNHCR, 2020). While both Kakuma and Dadaab form vibrant and dynamic markets where both host and refugee members engage in business transactions of a diversity of goods and services, according to UNHCR, the majority of the refugees earn their livelihoods through employment as incentive workers, petty trade, cash remittances from relatives and friends abroad as well as engagement in small and medium scale business enterprises (traders/vendors, motorcycle riders, tailors). Most urban refugees and asylum seekers work in the informal sector as casual labourers, petty traders, small business owners and semi-skilled workers.

As at 2018, Kenya had 17.8 million people in the labour force excluding those in small scale rural agriculture and pastoralist activities with 83.6% in the informal sector and 152.2 thousand persons being self-employed and unpaid family workers (Economic Survey, 2019). The informal and rural economy in Kenya is heterogeneous, comprising, amongst others, domestic workers, small traders (hawkers), artisans, construction, workers in the gig economy, refugees, agriculture workers, farmers, fishers and pastoralists. Agriculture is the country’s largest employer, with more than 40 per cent of the total population and over 70 per cent of Kenya’s rural people working in the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors, mostly with informal working conditions.

The majority of rural and informal economy workers are not enrolled with the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) and the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), thereby increasing their level of vulnerability and poverty. However, the extent to which the rural and informal economy workers are covered by existing social protection programmes is yet to be quantified. Quantifying coverage is critical in identifying gaps and developing measures to enhance social protection in this category of workers.

National Social Security Fund (NSSF)

The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) is a provident fund, open to all Kenyans into which contributions are paid by/on behalf of individual members, so as to facilitate and gain the benefit of investment returns. The contributions have been payable at a monthly rate of USD 4 contributed equally by the employee and employer as a statutory deduction for those in the formal economy and on a voluntary basis for informal economy workers. The NSSF, Act of 2013 saw the introduction of higher contribution rates with a tiered approach but this is yet to be fully implemented. The accumulated amount of each member’s contribution is identified as a personal account and, at the time of that individual’s retirement from employment, the accumulated value of her or his personal account is released from the fund as a retirement benefit. The NSSF pays out its benefits as a lump sum, rather than as a regular pension. Even though the Constitution stated that the vast proportion of the national population would benefit from social security, there is a significant ‘missing middle’ (informal and rural economy workers) who are unable to access. Refugees are not mentioned. The NSSF Act of 2013 transitions the Fund from a provident to a pension scheme but those within the informal and rural economy will still be covered on a voluntary basis under the provident fund.

Pension arrangements have been in place for officials working in the national government service for many decades, through the Civil Service Pension Scheme (CSPS). The CSPS provides non-contributory regular and predictable pensions (broadly at age 60, but with variations) to civil service officials, those employed by the national teaching service, and the disciplined services (the police, prisons service and national youth service).

Outside of formal sector workers and voluntary contributions, the Haba Haba scheme, run by the NSSF, provides social security for informal sector workers. Registration with this scheme only requires access to a mobile phone, and no specific provisions exist restricting participation to Kenyan citizens only. However, given the constraints on refugee access to SIM cards (i.e. the Kenya Information and Communication Act does not include refugee IDs among the acceptable documents for SIM card registration, which restricts refugees and asylum seekers from purchasing or registering SIM cards in their names), it may be difficult for refugees to access this scheme.

Additionally, there are around 1,200 private contributory schemes operating within the regulatory framework of the Retirement Benefits Authority (RBA), but mostly restricted to those in formal sector employment. There is a wide range of private agriculture insurances. Furthermore, the private ‘Mbao’ pension scheme, offers a very simple means by which members may easily accumulate a low level of regular (even daily) savings at minimal cost. The scheme is geared towards supporting citizens engaged in the informal sector who are not accessing any social security support and who rely on variable incomes. Beneficiaries, now 100,000, must be citizens of Kenya over the age of 18 years with an Identity Card and a mobile phone. Contributions are not mandatory although the scheme encourages members to put aside twenty shillings (‘Mbao’) a day. Since it is designed and marketed as a pension plan, its goal is to encourage retirement savings, but highlight that membership can also be used for savings or other purposes.

Scope of Work

Objectives of the study

The objective of this consultancy is to conduct an assessment of Haba Haba’s design and possibilities for inclusion of refugees.

The specific objectives are:

  1. Mapping and analysis (design and functioning) of social security schemes targeting informal economy workers with particular focus on NSSF Haba Haba product.
  2. Rapid review of barriers and challenges preventing uptake social security schemes such as the Haba Haba product by migrant workers, refugees and host communities in Nairobi and Turkana County including their ability / willingness to pay and awareness of social security products targeting workers in the informal sector.
  3. Recommend strategies for unlocking barriers and expanding coverage of social security schemes such as the Haba Haba product towards refugees and migrant workers.
  4. Support ILO in the technical preparation of a workshop with key stakeholders (NSSF, COTU, FKE, Informal economy member organizations, Government among others).
  5. Preparation of a concise report outlining challenges and recommendations for improvement to expand uptake.


The consultant will conduct a desk review to understand best practices of social security extension in relation to inclusion of refugees and migrant workers at global, regional and country level. In order to establish possibilities to expand uptake of the Haba Haba scheme and to evaluate the target groups’ willingness and ability to pay into such a scheme, the consultant will further collect data from refugees and migrant workers in urban Nairobi and Kakuma through focus group discussions. In addition, few interviews of current Haba Haba contributors will inform satisfaction of current beneficiaries. The consultant will further conduct key informant interviews with key stakeholders at national and county level, as well as at the refugee camp.

On the basis of the findings, the consultant will support ILO in the organisation of a consultative meetings / forums with key stakeholders on expansion of social security to refugees and migrants; and host communities living in Turkana county. The relevant stakeholders will include NSSF, Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Public Service, Gender, Senior Citizens and Special Programmes, COTU, FKE, Attorney General, The Treasury, UNHCR, Refugee Camp Administrators among others.

The assignment should take into account the needs of special groups to include refugees and migrant workers with disabilities and those living with HIV, as well as gender sensitivities with regard to contributory capacity and relevance of social protection services.


The study including the consultation workshop is planned to be carried in Q2 of 2022.

Expected Deliverables

The consultancy will be expected to deliver the following:

1. Inception Report

  • Desk review of information
  • Submit assignment inception report; capturing the document review, methodology & outline of assessment.

Data Collection, Analysis

  • Collect data, analyse and develop preliminary report.

Stakeholder workshop

  • Support ILO in the organization and technical preparation of a stakeholder forum.

2. Final report

  • Review comments and inputs from key stakeholders.
  • Submit final report with recommendations.

Required qualifications, desired competencies, technical background and experience

  • Relevant advanced academic degree (Social sciences, development studies, economics or related fields ); knowledge of social protection programs; labour markets;
  • Demonstrated international/local experience in working on social protection policies or schemes, assessments and studies;
  • Specific experience in undertaking complex social, economic and providing authoritative analysis and guidance for policy makers.
  • Experience working with NSSF, refugees and / or informal economy desirable.
  • Excellent writing and communication skills in English.

Expected Duration

All assignment’s deliverables are expected to be delivered to the satisfaction of the ILO by 30-06-2022.

How to apply

Interested applicants should submit their expression of interest including technical and financial proposals (Max. 3 pages) and CVs to to reach no later than 30th April 2022, quoting “PROSPECTS Consultancy: Haba Haba extension to refugees” in the subject.

Only shortlisted candidates will be notified