Written by Leonard Wamalwa
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Six years since the government introduced the cash transfer fund program for the elderly people above 65 years in the country, calls are all over for the program to be expanded to accommodate thousands of such cases left out.
The program which started in three districts in the year 2006 and later increased to forty districts now reaches only 23 elderly people from each constituency across the country.
After many complaints from politicians, the elderly people and other lobby groups over the running of the program in a few selected districts in the country, the government then chose to reduce the number of beneficiaries from the initial 115 per district to 23 per constituency since the beginning of this year which has instead raised more concern from the targeted group of people.
Basing on the diverse needy cases of elderly people in different aspects of life especially in the rural areas, the government needs to seek for more funds to expand the program so that it can bring on board more beneficiaries to improve on their livelihoods that are in a wanting state.
The DGSDO in charge of Trans Nzoia West and Kwanza districts Margaret Ojago as she spoke to West FM in her office in Kitale.
According to the district gender and social development officer in charge of Kwanza and Trans Nzoia West districts Margaret Ojago, numerous complaints are received on a daily basis from the would be beneficiaries who would like to know as to why they are not included in the program.
Speaking to West FM in her office in Kitale, the officer noted that the small number given by the government has posed many challenges to the people in charge of the program ranging from selection of the prospective beneficiaries to sharing equitably the slots across the constituency.
"We always receive complaints from the elders here in our office and even in the field when we go out on sensitization programs pertaining the small number of the beneficiaries," said Ojago.
She noted that there are thousands of needy, poor and vulnerable elderly people within her area of jurisdiction where she singled out Kwanza constituency as the one with the highest number in the area.
Ojago pointed out that the number was high in the constituency following the many squatters and landless people who after working for years in the farms such as ADC and others belonging to landlords and later retiring with nothing due to the underpayment and harsh working conditions hence lead desperate lives that need such government assistance.
The officer however said that there is hope of having the sots increased later after the government will get enough money for the program and urged the elderly people not to lose hope.
At the same time she pointed out that most of the people making a lot of noise about the program are not genuine elders with others having not attained the required age adding that the most vulnerable people are back at home and most of them cannot even afford to walk into the offices to raise such issues.
The lucky beneficiaries of the program are paid a total of Kshs 2000 which they are paid bi-monthly hence get Kshs 4000 during every payment.
The program is solely funded by the government of Kenya unlike other similar programs such as the OVCs- Orphans and Vulnerable children program that is funded by other donors such as the World Bank and UNICEF alongside the government.
People with severe disabilities are also benefiting from a government cash transfer program where 70 beneficiaries from each constituency are receiving similar amounts of money through the same department to improve their livelihoods.
Even though the officer still noted that the number of such people is also overwhelming noting that many people have hidden their relatives or children with disabilities in the homes and only produce them in the public whenever they hear of a fund or any kind of assistance. Hence the projected number of people with disabilities in many parts is bound to rise whenever such programs are initiated.
Women embracing loans from W.E.F
Ojago further appreciated the new move of women coming out in large numbers through their groups to acquire loans from the women enterprise fund unlike earlier on when most of them had phobia for loans.
She said that the number of women groups and individuals accessing the loans has improved a great deal and thus most of them are improving their livelihoods through the government money which they repay without any interest rates.
Repayment of the loan in the two districts is also said to have gone up with Kwanza district moving at 47% repayment rate from the initial 37% as Saboti or Trans Nzoia West district is at 67 per cent.
The funds which can be borrowed in groups from Kshs 50,000, Kshs 10,000 and Kshs 200,000 can also be accessed through other financial institutions in the area including the Cooperative Bank, Small Micro-enterprise- SMEP, and Trans Nzoia Women Sacco among others.
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