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Government’s welfare plan on COVID-19 pandemic questioned

Departmental Committee on Labour chair Ali Wario, right, during the proceedings on Thursday
Departmental Committee on Labour chair Ali Wario, right, during the proceedings on Thursday
The departmental committee on labour and social welfare received an official report from the Ministry of Labour detailing the number of counties that have received the distribution of food.

A report tabled in parliament on the beneficiaries of COVID-19 government fund seemingly left out six counties traditionally known to be poor.

The committee on labour in the national assembly receives a report on the government's COVI-19 program on Thursday
Committee on labour in the assembly on Thursday receives a report on the government’s COVI-19 program.

Interestingly, the report presented to the departmental committee on labour reveals Embu County is a traditionally rich region and Kirinyaga, Murang’a, Kisii and Nyamira as counties “seriously” affected by coronavirus.

Counties that are traditionally known to be poor with serious and negative climatic changes like Baringo, parts of Machakos, Kitui, parts of Makueni, Tana River, and Turkana are surprisingly missing.

Kajiado and Mandera

Also on the list are counties that have not even reported a single case of COVID-19. Counties like Kajiado and Mandera, which were supposed to be the first to be supported because they have been under lockdown were placed in Phase 3 of the program.

The committee while sitting on Thursday questioned the inconsistencies in the report on the number of beneficiaries in government’s program.

This was after the departmental committee on labour and social welfare received an official report from the Ministry of Labour detailing the number of counties that have received the distribution of food.

The committee that is chaired by MP Ali Wario, while sitting in parliament on Thursday, said it notes with concern inconsistencies in the report on the total number of beneficiaries in the program.

Committee Members

Members of the committee led by Wario and members; Ronald Tanui, David Sankok and Tom Odege sought to establish the number of beneficiaries currently in the program and the criteria used to determine counties that are incorporated into the programme.

The committee members further urged the State Department on Social Protection to upscale the national safety net programme to reach more vulnerable persons and to partner with county and constituency offices in the identification of vulnerable persons.

Ministry of Labour Chief Administrative Secretary, Patrick ole Ntutu and Principal Secretary, State Department on Social Protection Nelson Marwa appeared before the House committee that wanted to establish the status of disbursement of funds to the targeted vulnerable persons being cushioned against the effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The Committee, in particular, sought to establish the status of the pilot program in the counties of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale and the progress on roll out to other counties.

Weekly Stipend

In his response, Ntutu informed the committee that the pilot programme has been implemented in 21 counties in 8 cycles from April 15, 2020, to June 9, 2020, with each household receiving a weekly stipend of Sh1,000.

Ntutu added that 9 counties namely Nakuru, Kirinyaga, Meru, Kakamega, Embu, Kiambu, Nyeri, Uasin Gishu, and Kisumu have been enrolled in Phase 2 of the programme and beneficiaries having received the weekly stipend of Sh1,000 between May 5 and June 9, 2020.

Additionally, he said, 8 counties namely Murang’a, Migori, Kajiado, Kisii, Nyamira, Machakos, Mandera, and Tharaka Nithi are part of the third phase of the programme has received 3 cycles from May 26 and June 9, 2020.

Surprisingly, the report

Ntutu said the status of the pilot program in the counties of

Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilifi, and Kwale has been implemented in 8 cycles for Nairobi county and 8 cycles for Kilifi, Kwale and Mombasa county from May 15, 2020, to June 9, 2020, targeting 85,300 households.

“Each household has been receiving a weekly stipend of Sh1,000,” he said.

Ntutu said so far 71,298 households in 21 counties have been identified and reach out to.

The report says the programme is being upscaled nationwide with a focus on vulnerable households in the urban informal settlement.

The requirements for enrolment in the programme include those people selected from urban/ informal settlements that are hard hit.

“These ensures targeting of casual workers and those rendered jobless are provided with basic needs like food, shelter, and a means to recover and rebuild after the crisis including protection from future shocks,” said Ntutu.

Others who are also considered are households with a high poverty index and where the head or the breadwinner is disabled.

Other indices below were also used;

  • Households with a high poverty index and where the head or the breadwinner is widowed.
  • Households with a high poverty index and where the head or the breadwinner is a minor (orphans or child-led households).
  • Households with a high poverty index and where the head or the breadwinner is suffering from pre-existing medical condition e.g. HIV, Cancer, etc.
  • Households with a high poverty index and where the head or the breadwinner is mentally unsound and/or vulnerable.
  • Households not benefiting from other Government support programmes
  • Households/individuals identified by the State Department of Social Protection under the ongoing National Social Safety Net Programme but not yet enrolled in the programme

 

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