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Social Protection and Regional Integration: A Study of Experiences of Ugandan Returnees in Accessing NSSF Benefits Accrued While Working in Kenya

Abstract:The purpose of this study is to examine the experiences of Ugandan returnee’s who have previously worked Kenya in accessing NSSF benefits accrued. The study sought to examine the current social protection laws at the regional level as well as the national level, find out views of elites and determine member state support. Focus was mainly on Ugandan citizens who have previously worked in Kenya and their experiences in accessing NSSF benefits. The study adopted a case study design utilizing the qualitative method that was most suitable and less costly to undertake. Target was Ugandan citizens who had previously worked in Kenya, NSSF officials who helped establish how the remittance of the benefits is conducted, Scholars and Experts on EAC matters as well as social protection. The study drew a sample size of 30 respondents and received feedback from 25 respondents while applying the purposive sampling technique for selecting respondents. Data was collected from both primary and secondary sources, interviews were specifically used since it enabled the researcher to probe for first-hand information. An introductory letter was issued by the University and NACOSTI authorizing research to be carried out. Since the research was motivated by experiences raw data collected from the respondents was qualitatively analyzed. The study found out that, for social protection to be effective within the East African Community (EAC) member states ought to have a collective responsibility to ensure the laws are harmonized at both levels: this includes having national laws that give clear provisions on proper coverage and sufficient funds for members and ultimately having social protection as an entitlement in the EAC which is in line with ILO Convention 102 of 1952. The study found out that Kenya has taken a leading role in matters related to social protection by allowing portability of funds across member states. The findings show that operationalization of this provision has not been possible due to a pending court case. The study noted that NSSF Kenya and Uganda has a lot of similarities, in terms of structure, the weaknesses in terms of coverage, adequacy and efficiency all which contribute to the overall experiences that returnees are faced with. In addition to pushing for necessary legislation that will entrench social protection laws to be applicable for all EAC partner states, Officials at NSSF pointed on the need for governments to review and update the policies that govern these scheme for better coverage and packages for contributors. Key words:Regional Integration, Social Protection, Portability,East African Community, International Labor Organization.

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