In cities like Nairobi, Sh2,000 does not go very far, and many people wouldn’t think twice about spending this on a single day.
However, some 830,000 Kenyans have no choice but to stretch the cash to last a month. Most of them receive cash transfers through the National Safety Net Programme, also known as Inua Jamii (Lift the Community).
Social Protection PS Susan Mochache says the national government has spent Sh80.3 billion over four years on the elderly and other vulnerable people through the cash transfer programme.
“It has been accepted as one of the best components in the fight against poverty. We expect to see more beneficiaries being brought on board in the next financial year,” she said last month when she visited the Huduma Centre in Kitale.
But is giving cash to the poor and vulnerable people a sustainable way to keep them out of poverty?
What if it only creates dependency instead of helping people lift themselves out of poverty? Well, until recently, giving cash directly to the poor was met with great skepticism. The reason was that the impact of cash transfers to poor people had yet to be measured.
But now there is a growing body of evidence that shows both conditional and unconditional cash transfers can make positive impacts on the lives of the poor.
For instance, a recent study by the Asia Development Bank (Conditional Cash Transfer Programmes: An Effective Tool for Poverty Alleviation?) shows that millions of people in Asia have been lifted out of poverty through conditional cash transfers.
Efforts to develop a sustainable social protection programme in Kenya gathered momentum in 2006.
This is when consultations to formulate a national social protection framework started. The country’s first social protection policy was eventually launched in 2011.
Kenya has now implemented several social protection programmes, including social security and social health insurance schemes: the cash transfers for orphans and vulnerable children, older persons and persons with severe disabilities.
The programmes cover at least 830,000 people and are run by the social protection department in the Labour ministry.
The cash transfer programme does not throw money at poor Kenyans. Recipients are carefully selected and monitored to ensure they are well informed about objectives and outcomes are tracked, the ministry says.
One of the players involved in laying the foundation for the programmes is the Nairobi-based Africa Institute for Health and Development, which, in collaboration with the Partnership for African Social and Governance Research, is implementing the Utafiti Sera project on social protection in Kenya.
Dr Nicholas Awortwi, the head of Upper Hill-based Pasgr, says Ufiti Sera (Research-Policy Community) aims to bridge the gap between research and public policy.
Utafiti Sera was key in informing many of the decisions Kenya made to build a successful social protection programme.
Dr Awortwi says Pasgr has also sponsored other social protection studies around Africa to inform and influence policy in those sectors.
On the other hand, AIHD has provided technical assistance to the Kenyan government and has worked with various donors supporting social protection activities in Kenya.
Kenya launched the Cash Transfer for Persons With Severe Disabilities in June 2011.
The programme targets adults and children with severe disabilities, who require full time support of a caregiver. It covers 45,505 households across the country.
Each household receives Sh2,000 every month, delivered every two months through the Kenya Commercial Bank and Equity Bank.
CONDITIONS FOR ENROLMENT
The social protection department says beneficiaries must be people requiring permanent care, including feeding, toiletry, protection from danger from themselves and from other persons and the environment and thus, require intensive support daily.
They also must be poor and must not be enrolled in any other cash transfer programme or be receiving any pension or regular income.
People may exit the programme voluntarily or when the economic condition of the household improves.
Those discovered to have given false information are also expunged while the government also stops sending money when beneficiaries fail to collect payment for three consecutive payments with no valid explanation, or when they move to a location that is not covered by the programme.
When the disabled beneficiary dies, transfers are stopped after the next three payments.