Concern as budget for the elderly is slashed

July 3, 2012 12:24 pm
The fund has now been allocated Sh1 billion, a reduction from the Sh3 billion allocated in the 2011/2012 financial year/FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 3 – Minimal gains made in the cash transfer programme for the elderly persons in the country risk being eroded after the Treasury slashed its budgetary allocation by a third.

The allocation is unlikely to meet the requirements of the programme run by the Gender, Children and Social development ministry which has previously complained of meager resources in implementing the programme.

The fund has now been allocated Sh1 billion, a reduction from the Sh3 billion allocated in the 2011/2012 financial year.

Elderly persons interviewed by Capital FM News in parts of Nakuru, Kisumu, Nyeri and Machakos earlier this year had accused the government of keeping them waiting for more than four years, since they were registered to start benefiting.

When asked to comment on the serious claims raised by the elderly persons and their guardians, officials at the ministry blamed it on lack of sufficient funds to implement the project.

“We would like to have the programme benefit everyone who deserves to get the assistance, but unfortunately, the money allocated is not sufficient,” one senior official at the Ministry said.

The Ministry is also in charge of the kitty for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) which was allocated Sh 4.4 b in this financial year, an increase from the Sh3 billion given last year.

‘We are aware there are people and areas where the money has not reached, this is because the money is not enough but as time goes by, we hope to cover all the areas,” Secretary of Children Affairs Professor Secretary for Children Affairs at the Ministry Prof Jacqueline Oduol said.

“The same case applies to the elderly persons; the money is not enough and that is why all the areas have not been covered,” she said in an interview with Capital FM News at her NSSF office.

Under the Cash Transfer programme, elderly persons above the age of 65 who are not pensionable and have no other financial support are entitled to a monthly stipend of Sh2,000 from the government but the money is not reaching most of them.

Most of the elderly persons interviewed said they submitted their identity card numbers four years ago but they have never received any response from the government to date.

In Nakuru County for instance, only 23 elderly persons are receiving the money monthly, according to District Commissioner Kang’ethe Thuku. More than 500 others are yet to benefit.

“I was asked for a copy of my national Identity Card and I submitted all the details, but after four years now, I have never been given anything; I don’t know what is happening,” Grace Njoki, a 70-year-old granny in Molo said.

Another elderly person living with his daughter-in law in Kaptembwa in Nakuru said he last registered to get the funds in 2010 but no response has been forthcoming from the government.

“I hope the money will come (sic), I have suffered a lot, I do not have anything here. I don’t have food, and I need medicine,” Sylvanus Rotich, 98, an elderly person in Nakuru said.

“They have my details which they took when they came around for registration but I have not been getting the money,” he said and added that the local chief kept telling them to wait. “How long are we going to wait, I am about to lose hope.”

Some of his neighbours receive the money.

“I have been receiving it, it is a good thing the government is doing but the money should be increased,” Abigael Ng’etich of Molo said.

Joel Onderi, 73 too protests he has not benefited from the kitty.

“When they took our details they pledged that the money will come within a month or two, that has turned out to be four years,” Joel Onderi, 73, of Nakuru said.

Documents seen by Capital FM News indicate that the programme was launched in 2007 for 300 households receiving Sh1,000 until last year when it was spread all over Kenya to cater for more than 36,000 households. It was later scaled up to Sh2,000 per household.

Information on the official website of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Development claims the the programme is now running successfully countrywide.

While documents we have seen show that the programme has been rolled out countrywide, Nakuru District Commissioner Kang’ethe Thuku said he has only been given money for 23 elder citizens.

“We were expecting money for 150 elderly people, we only received money for 23 people. Those are the ones receiving the money at the moment,” Thuku told Capital FM News in an interview in his office when we sought his comment on the concerns raised.

He could not explain why it has taken up to four years for elderly people who registered for the fund to start benefiting.

“When we get the money they will also benefit,” he said.

Similar challenges are faced in Kisumu where hundreds of elderly persons are waiting to receive the funds years on.

“I was registered long time ago, and I was told I qualify but to date, I have not been given anything,” Elisha Otuge Achiel, a 79-year-old granny in Kawese village of Kolua location in Kisumu East district said.


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