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Is Gender ministry robbing the elderly?

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 12 – Questions of misappropriation of the Cash Transfer Fund which the government distributes to the elderly have been raised across the country after it emerged that only a fraction of them get the money.

Elderly people aged 65 years and above who are not pensionable and have no other financial support are entitled to a monthly stipend of Sh2,000 from the government under the Cash Transfer Fund for the Elderly but the money is not reaching most of them.

The Programme is run by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Development and is meant to empower the elderly people to a tune of up to Sh 3 billion annually.

In our quest to establish how the funds are channeled to the ground, we conducted interviews with individual elderly persons and their guardians in parts of Nakuru, Kisumu, Murang’a and Machakos where it emerged thousands are still waiting to get the funds.

Some have been waiting for the money four years since they were registered through the provincial administration.

“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 do not know what happened, we gave out all the details for mzee to the chief but no money has been sent to us,” Jackson Rotich, who takes care of Sylvanus Rotich, 98, said.

They said they were informed by their local chief that they had met all the requirements for the Cash Transfer Fund for the elderly persons but he keeps saying money has not been sent.

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“They had said the money will be sent through the post office, but when we went to the District Commissioner’s office he keeps saying money has not been sent.”

However, there are those who receive the funds but they complained sometimes it takes up to three months before it is sent to them.

“I am one of the beneficiaries, the money is meant to come every month but sometimes it takes long before we get it,” Abigael Ng’etich of Molo said. She said whenever it delays, it is usually backdated.

Nathaniel Mutuku, 71, is another beneficiary of the fund but he says it is too little to cater for all his needs.

“I look after my grandchildren because their parents have neglected them. I also have to take care of myself, so it is better if the money was increased,” said Mutuku who has been receiving the money since 2010 when the programme was launched in Mwala, Machakos.

The money is usually sent to them through the Postal Corporation of Kenya.
Some of the elderly men and women waiting for the funds are suffering from diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and others associated with old age and are now blaming the government for giving them too much hope for nothing.

“Why did they come around to take the details yet they cannot give us the money?” Joel Onderi, 73, who lives in Nakuru asked.

Documents seen by Capital FM News indicate that the programme was launched in 2007 for 300 households receiving 1,000 shillings 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 indicates that the programme is now running successfully countrywide.

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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.

The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Development has acknowledged that the issues raised by those interviewed are serious and has pledged to give a detailed response.

“Those are very serious issues, we have all the data and we will provide it to you,” Monica Omoro, Public Relations Officer at the Ministry said.

District Commissioners and Officers have been telling those pursuing their money that the project is only implemented in few regions but statistics available at the Gender Ministry show that the programme has been rolled out countrywide, raising fears the money is either being mismanaged or misappropriated by those mandated to channel the funds on the ground.

In Nyeri Central district, a mini-launch of the programme was conducted in January 26, 2010 by the then Gender Minister Esther Murugi.

Records available at the Ministry show that 750 elderly people aged over 65 years were given cheques worth Sh4.5 million.

Each of them received Sh6,000 which was the arrears for four months. At the time, they were receiving Sh1,500 but the money has since been increased to Sh2,000.

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The Ministry is yet to explain why 750 elderly people should benefit from the kitty in a district in Nyeri, while only 23 receive the money in Nakuru district as confirmed by the area District Commissioner.

The problem is replicated in Karatina, Kiambu and Machakos where only a few elderly men receive the money while others have never heard from the government more than three years since they registered for it.

Capital FM News visited villages in Kisumu where we witnessed challenges elderly men and women are facing as they wait years on for the government to fulfill its promise of disbursing the Cash Transfer Fund for the Elderly persons.

“I gave out a copy of my ID two years ago, the chief came around and took our details. We immediately became optimistic that we will start benefiting, but up to now we have not heard any response, the chief says we keep on waiting,” Elisha Otuge Achiel, a 79-year-old granny in Kawese village of Kolua location in Kisumu East district said.

The Cash Transfer Fund is one of the instruments the government is using to address the needs of the poor and vulnerable persons in the society.

It is meant to strengthen the capacities of Older Persons and improve their livelihood while alleviating integrated poverty through sustainable social protection mechanisms.


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