Kenyans experience a paradigm shift from social protection scheme

Elderly people meet before they receive their monthly cash transfer. Photo Courtesy
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Hundreds of senior citizens in Embu County, like Joy Karimi have a new lease of life following the introduction of the Social Protection Programme by the national Government.

Following the registration of elderly people, they   receive a stipend every three months by being on the official register, presenting themselves personally at pay points and by signing and or appending their thumb print on the official form.

Despite her poor eyesight, Karimi allows a smile to spread through her wrinkled face clearly indicating that age and past suffering had taken toll on her health.

Karimi encouraged her unemployed granddaughter, Eunice Njoki who has a four year old son to start a business with her support using part of the social protection income.

Elsewhere, Nicacio Nyagah, 70, has been sharing his income from the social protection fund with his great grandson who is undertaking a welding course at a local village polytechnic. They subsidise the stipend with income from their poultry project at his Gatondo homestead.

Jane Wamugo, who has a half an acre commercial banana farm at her home started with savings from the stipend.

Clearly social protection has been known to have the potential to expand and provide wider cash and related income benefits to people not even targeted directly under the payments for the elderly.
The Reject through various interviews among caregivers of benefitting elders noted that the amount was going beyond the intended recipient and benefitting other members of the household.

So far, the national cash transfer programme for those aged 70 years and above is already bearing fruit across the country where the elderly have something to take care of their basic needs.

In a study titled: Social Protection for the Elderly as a Development Strategy, University of Nairobi researchers, Philomena Mathiu and Elosy Kangai Mathiu, from the Department of History, Archaeology and Political Sciences, looked at Kenya’s cash transfer programme as a case study. To benefit a wider population, the researchers found out that
Kenya has had a paradigm shift from universal social protection schemes targeted at formal employees to inclusive schemes including both formal and informal sectors, corporations and individuals.

The cash programme for the elderly is part of the Government’s Vision 2030 development blue print which includes the social pillar among other initiatives. They note: “Kenya’s cash transfer programme for the
aged remains a development strategy for the elderly through use of a political economy within an environment of increasingly policy institutional support.”

They have proposed a transformative thinking for planning social protection for the elderly by targeting the youth.

The researchers drew regional perspectives and discussed the Kenyan context within the Old Persons Cash Transfer Programme’s evolution, implementation, and its sustainability environment.
In commending Kenya, the scholars say that the country’s Social Protection programmes have been operationally feasible within government delivery mechanisms and budgetary provisions that have
allowed gradual expansion with some significance in poverty reduction.

They further explain that there has been an increased linkage with other complimentary public services like health services especially after inclusion of the elderly people benefits to be covered under the National Health Insurance Fund as a Health Insurance Policy.

The scholars note that Social Protection development strategies have been contributing to poverty reduction and achievement of Millennium Development Goals.
These strategies, they recommend, should be pegged on national economic performance and further be designed to cushion beneficiaries by inculcating elements of transformative social transfers to address challenges in design and implementation.

The design should minimise possible dependency and other undesired outcome while there is also the need for evidence-based policy dialogue and research as well as to continuously collect and gather data on impact of existing programmes.

Social Protection, the researchers feel, has been well interpreted and implemented by the Government of Kenya because its policies and actions enhance the capacity and opportunities for the poor and
vulnerable to eventually improve and sustain their livelihoods and welfare.

“Such policies help in a manner which clearly guarantees a minimum level of well-being, including access to food, health care, education, housing, water, sanitation and other non-economic factors like human
rights and participation,” the researchers conclude.  comfortably with the Millennium Development Goals one, three, four, six and eight as contained in the Millennium Development Goals which looks at eradicating extreme poverty and hunger; promoting gender equality and empowering women; reducing child mortality; Combating HIV and Aids, Malaria and other diseases as well as developing a global partnership for development.

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