Government boosts help for the poor and vulnerable
BY KOBIA MWIRICHIA
Nairobi January 27, 2015 (PSCU) – President Uhuru Kenyatta today launched Kenya’s first Social Protection Week whose objective is to create links among all Government agencies involved in social protection schemes.
The flagship of the Government’s social protection schemes are the cash transfer programmes to the elderly, orphans, the disabled and the Hunger Safety Net Programme.
During the one week event, government bodies delivering social assistance and security will interact with each other and come up with an action plan to improve synergy and reduce mismanagement of funds.
Key to preventing duplication and mismanagement of funds for the vulnerable sections of Kenyans will be a biometric registration, which the President launched as he opened the conference at the KICC.
The system will curtail duplication since the collection of payments will be pegged on the individual’s fingerprints.
The move to employ a biometric system comes after a directive issued by President Kenyatta last year, to the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Services, to safeguard the billions of Shillings the Government was allocating to support vulnerable people.
This financial year alone, the Government allocated Ksh13.6 billion to support cash transfer programmes for older persons; orphans and vulnerable children; persons with severe disabilities. The cash transfer programmes also include the Hunger Safety Net Programme targeting the most poor and vulnerable households in Turkana, Mandera, Marsabit and Wajir counties.
President Kenyatta said there is no dignity in poverty and it is unacceptable for 46 percent of Kenyans to live below the poverty line.
“There is little dignity for the destitute. There is little dignity for any nation that allows nearly half its people to continue in poverty” said the President.
He said the Government will dedicate more funds to provide safety nets for those who have no means to support themselves.
“We expect that by the end of this fiscal year, 521, 000 households across the country should benefit from the programmes,” the President added.
He said the Government has developed specific interventions on social protection to the youth, women and persons with disabilities, which include the National Youth Service 5 Point Vision, the Youth Enterprise Development Fund and the Uwezo Fund.
Other interventions are the Women Enterprise Fund, the National Development Fund for Persons with Disabilities, the Access to Government Procurement Opportunities, and the Youth Training and Internship Program.
He expressed Government’s commitment to protecting the rights of every working Kenyan by maintaining decent conditions of work including wages, working time, occupational safety and health.
The Government also developed a National Social Protection Policy and prepared a Sessional Paper ready for debate by the National Assembly.
The President, at the same time, urged NHIF to work with relevant arms of Government to ensure that at least 25 million Kenyans have health insurance before the end of this year.
President Kenyatta said the Government has commissioned a pilot Health Insurance Subsidy Programme covering 23, 500 poor and vulnerable households in the country.
Under the pilot programme in-patient and out-patient services are being provided to orphans and vulnerable children.
Plans are on course to provide health insurance cover to 189,717 older persons and people with severe disabilities, he added.
Labour, Social Security and Services Cabinet Secretary Kazungu Kambi said the cash transfer scheme will hit the 1 million household mark soon.
He said the Jubilee Government is committed to ensure it delivers on all its pledges to Kenyans.
Others who addressed the conference were Cabinet Secretaries Jacob Kaimenyi (Education), Henry Rotich (National Treasury) and Hassan Wario (Sports).
Representatives of the World Bank and Unicef also spoke at the conference.