Accountability key in use of Covid-19 pandemic cash

Tuesday, May 19th, 2020 00:00 |
Private entities throw weight behind State’s anti-coronavirus kitty.

While plans to pilot cash transfer programme to enable the elderly and vulnerable Kenyans cope with Covid-19 crisis are underway, Kenyans must be vigilant.

With a lot of pressure to fast-track the release of funds to cushion the most vulnerable, the government must take keen interest on when the emergency funds are reaching the  intended beneficiaries.

Many countries are using cash transfers, which have been used by the humanitarian sector for years, to cushion communities living through crises.

With the restricted movement into and out of areas classified as virus hotspots, a situation further compounded by the dusk to dawn curfew, the old, sick and poor risk being rendered destitute despite the government committing emergency funds to the vulnerable groups.

A lot of cash has been allocated to the programmes. The Sh10 billion fund announced on 26 March — later increased to Sh12 billion — which is aimed at assisting the old, the disabled and orphans and vulnerable children is a case in point.

It is particularly interesting to note that payments due in March 2020 from the  government through the Inua Jamii Plus 70 scheme for the elderly and other vulnerable groups has yet to reach the intended recipients.

Concerns abound that older people might not access the money once it is available.

There is, therefore, an urgent need to clean up Kenya’s Social protection safety net, especially at a time when programmes to assist those affected by Covid-19 pandemic are being rolled out. 

As a matter of fact, it will help in accounting for the Sh33 billion set aside for scaling up the social protection and economic inclusion programme.

Worryingly, even some residents have been forced to wait for weeks for the food rations after community elders have listed their details;  names, ID numbers and telephone numbers. 

In some case where the promised door-door deliveries have been done, the recipients have had to grapple with the challenges of the ongoing curfew.

Going forward, there is need for a practical solution to the chaotic food distribution. Can the government, for instance, channel  money to the intended recipients through M-Pesa to enable them buy food? 

If this happens, it would cure two things—delays and blackmail of beneficiaries by corrupt State bureaucrats.  

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