HelpAge

Kenya should reconsider a repeal of existing social protection legislation that could strip benefits to vulnerable groups like the elderly and the disabled, campaigners said on Friday.

Erastus Maina, Kenya director of HelpAge International, said that proposed repeal of Kenya’s Social Assistance Act could jeopardize delivery of critical support to population groups that have been historically marginalized.

“The proposed regulations will undo years of progress in building an inclusive social protection system for all Kenyans,” Maina said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

Last month, Cabinet Secretary for Treasury and Planning Ukur Yattani said the government planned to reorganize social protection system to ensure it is responsive to good governance ethos.

The Social Assistance (Repeal) Bill empowers the national treasury to oversee deployment of cash stipends and other benefits meant for senior citizens and people living with disabilities.

Campaigners warned that the proposed regulations would create a loophole to deny vulnerable citizens access to basic needs like food, healthcare and shelter.

“The announcement to repeal the foundation of Kenya’s social protection system is a disappointing turn from recent achievements in ensuring that all citizens can have dignified lives through rights-based social protection schemes,” Maina said.

The government spends 30 billion shillings (about 300 million U.S. dollars) annually to support cash transfer to citizens aged over 70 years, the severely disabled and orphaned children.

Maina said grassroots campaigners will lobby parliament to ensure that the repeal of legislation that governs social protection reflects the needs and aspirations of vulnerable citizens.

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