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Kenya signs Sh21bn World Bank 'poverty loan'

Tuesday, September 10, 2013 - 00:00 -- By CONSTANT MUNDA

The government has collapsed five existing social protection projects into a National Social Safety Net Programme after it secured a Sh21.8 billion ($250 million) loan from the World Bank yesterday.

National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich has consequently directed all ministries to immediately start up social protection projects.

The projects have been allocated a total of Sh13.4 billion in the budget.

He said the initiative targeting 298,990 households or 3.3 million poor Kenyans by 2017 will improve access to food, health care and retain children in school.

The merged programmes include cash transfer for the orphans and vulnerable children, older persons, persons with severe disability, urban food subsidy and the hunger safety net programme Sh2,000 after every two months. It targets to cover nine per cent of the population up from the ongoing programmes that, Rotich said, has managed only four per cent.

“Access to basic provision s and services will promote inclusive growth in our economy and that gives the poor hope for the future,” the secretary said.

World Bank country director Diarietou Gaye said Kenya has matured from various small cash and food transfer programmes. It now joins developing countries implementing “progressive and efficiently managed national social safety nets, she said.

“Integrating these programmes will help the government expand the programme coverage to the most vulnerable families while achieving greater efficiency and coordination,” Gaye said. “Kenya will be drawing on global experience and lessons of success of such broad national programmes which were first demonstrated in Brazil and Mexico.”

Ethiopia and Rwanda are the only African countries to have implemented the programme.