Tracking Progress: FCDO Review of BRMM Interventions in Kenya

A high-level monitoring visit on the ongoing ILO Better Regional Migration Management (BRMM) Program interventions in Kenya (Nairobi and Mombasa)

The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) conducted a monitoring visit on the ongoing ILO Better Regional Migration Management (BRMM) Program interventions in Kenya (Nairobi and Mombasa) from 28 November to 06 December 2023. During the visit, the team met with various stakeholders/ partners, including the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection (MLSP), the National Employment Authority (NEA), the National Industrial Training Authority (NITA), Central Organization of Trade Unions, Kenya (COTU-K), Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Educational Institutions, Hospitals and Allied Workers (KUDHEIHA), Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE), Longitude Finance LTD, Kenya Association of Private Employment Agencies (KAPEA), Association of Skilled Migrants Agencies of Kenya (ASMAK), as well as beneficiaries (returned migrants) who took the Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) training program.

The team discussed various issues, such as the unemployment situation in Kenya, labour market and labour migration policies and strategies, Bilateral Labour Migration Agreements (BLMAs), the status of migrant workers' welfare fund, migrants access to finance and loan services and job opportunities, the progress of SIYB training, the status of skills verification, recognition and certification, construction of the Arabian model house, stakeholders capacity building, and the migrant resource centre (MRC) managed by COTU-K. In addition, challenges related to migrant workers protection both in the country of origin and destination, migrant workers data management, engagement and consultation of social partners and other stakeholders in the BRMM program were also discussed, and way forward for identified gaps and challenges were also suggested.

During discussions with the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection (MLSP), led by the Principal Secretary, the State Department of Labour, H.E Mr. Mwadime Shadrack, expressed gratitude for ILO BRMM interventions, highlighting the positive impact on labour migration issues through the Migrant Workers Welfare Fund, labour market strategies, and capacity-building training. Furthermore, H.E. Mr. Mwadime Shadrack emphasised the importance of additional support for staff capacity building, regional collaboration, and awareness raising. The discussion National Employment Authority (NEA), headed by Ms. Edith Okoki, Interim Director General, NEA, focused on the responsibilities of NEA in terms of employment management; enhancement of employment promotion interventions; and increasing access to employment for Kenyan citizens. Furthermore, the meeting underscored the need for a whole-of-government approach to the coordination of labour migration.

The National Industrial Training Authority (NITA), led by Mr. Aden Noor, NITA Board Chairperson underlined joint efforts on skills verification, particularly in high-demand sectors. In addition, the team visited NITA welding and other training workshops and the ongoing construction of Arabia model house supported by ILO BRMM and observed the groundwork and discussed with construction supervisor on the remaining activities of the construction works. Discussions with the Central Organization of Trade Unions in Kenya (COTU-K), chaired by Mr Bruno Otiato, Personal Assistant to the Secretary-General, emphasised the significance of inter-institutional collaboration in addressing labour migration issues, notably the challenges posed by the Kafala system.

The Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) chaired by Jacqueline Mugo, Executive Director/CEO of FKE and Business Africa, addressed the importance of mitigating inadequate collaboration among workers' and employers' organisations on labour migration issues, while discussions with Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Educational Institutions, Hospitals, and Allied Workers (KUDHEIHA) facilitated by Albert Njeru, head of KUDHEIHA in Nairobi centred on sustaining the established returned migrants' for reintegration post-training and working with them to create awareness for other migrants. Longitude Finance LTD, led by CEO Michael Monari and programme and partnerships coordinator Derick Malango, offered insights on credit availability for migrants, including interest-free loans and collaborations with KUDHEIHA and migrants' associations.

The Kenya Association of Private Employment Agencies (KAPEA), chaired by Mr. Juma Omar Mwangala, highlighted capacity limitations as a major challenge and requested assistance for staff training, regional cooperation, and the establishment of migrants' psychological centres. The Association of Skilled Migrant Agencies of Kenya (ASMAK), headed by Mr Francis Mbugua, highlighted obstacles in collaboration and information gaps among its members, highlighting the need for skills mapping and tackling Kafala system. Lastly, discussions with beneficiaries and SIYB trainers underscored the positive impact of the SIYB training on returned migrants' entrepreneurial ventures and outlined plans for business expansion. The discussions with the SIYB trainees focused on their experiences, challenges faced abroad, and the skills gained through the training. They shared their business ideas and plans for the future, highlighting the positive impact of SIYB training on their entrepreneurial ventures. In addition, the trainers discussed the need to do tracer research after the training and translate modules into local languages (Swahili).

The monitoring mission provided valuable insights into the progress and challenges of labour migration interventions in Kenya. The identified gaps and proposed action points underscore the need for continued collaboration among stakeholders to address these challenges effectively. Continuous monitoring and support are crucial to ensuring the sustainability and success of initiatives aimed at improving the lives and businesses of migrants in Kenya.