A national stakeholders’ consultative forum on the Inua Jamii 70 and above older people cash transfers Programme was held in Nairobi today.
The new programme seeks to directly protect and reduce vulnerability of Kenyans in the age bracket of 70 years and above. This noble intention has, on many occasions been reiterated upon as a priority area of intervention and key deliverable by H.E President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Ms Phyllis Kandie, the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Labor, East Africa Community and Social Protection said the right of all Kenyans to a minimum income security is recognised in the Constitution and the Government’s national development strategies and policy frameworks.
She said to actualize this intent, the government has developed modalities for implementing the Inua Jamii 70 Years and Above cash transfer programme as part of the Government’s response to addressing vulnerability amongst the older persons of 70 years and above.
The commitment by the government to enhance and expand the existing Older Persons Cash Transfer Programme (OPCT) into a more inclusive programme that provides transfers to all older persons aged 70 years is informed in part by a feasibility study commissioned by the HelpAge International, an international NGO that advocates for the rights of older persons in 2011 together with the then, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Development, a study tour by the Ministry to Brazil and numerous consultations and negotiations within government and other stakeholders.
The study investigated the impact of the Older Persons Cash Transfer and the potential impact and cost of an expanded social pension scheme.
Kenyatta Maitha, Country Director, HelpAge International said the study showed that Old-age pension coverage in Kenya is currently low.
“The vast majority of Kenyans face uncertain futures that are characterised by high risk of disability and ill health alongside reduced capacity to earn an income”.
He added that this often results in increasing dependence on relatives, many of whom face their own economic pressures associated with raising children or improving their own livelihoods. “Given both the traditional and modern role that older people play in Kenyan society, as pillars of a family and carers of other vulnerable groups, the urgency to address old-age poverty is also central to wider development agendas,” said Mr Kenyatta.
He said the national social security reform needs to make poverty reduction in old age a key priority for Kenya’s pension system. The current system is biased towards those who have worked in the formal sector.
In the 2017 budget speech, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance Hon. Henry Rotich announced the intent of government to enhance and expand the existing Older Persons Cash Transfer Programme (OPCT) into a more inclusive programme that provides transfers to all older persons aged 70 years and above starting January 2018.
According to the 2009 census, 2017 projections, the population of older persons aged 70 years and above is estimated to be 973,000.
The HelpAge study reveal that amongst these population group, there is likelihood that up to 30% may be beneficiaries of public and private pension schemes, while an estimated 14% (132,000) are currently enrolled under the social assistance programmes (i.e.: Orphans and Vulnerable Cash Transfer Programme, People with Severe Disability Cash Transfer, Older Persons Cash Transfer and the Hunger Safety Net Programme) inferring therefore that they may already be benefiting directly or indirectly from some form of income security intervention.
“Clearly, there still remains a sizeable percentage of the 70 and above estimated at over 540,000 (56%) senior citizens that live in poverty and remain extremely vulnerable,” said Mr Kenyatta adding that the government’s programme is laudable and needs to be supported.