To Uplifting the Poor and Vulnerable, Let Us Do More To Improve Social Protection Service Delivery

To Uplifting the Poor and Vulnerable, Let Us Do More To Improve Social Protection Service Delivery

The Kenya National Safety Net Programme (NSNP) has listed a number of successes since the scheme
was rolled out to empower the elderly and vulnerable members of society with cash.

Before introducing a national safety net program, Kenya was experiencing a high incidence of poverty around 46.6 % poverty rate. Poverty was also intertwined with higher inequality and vulnerability to shocks, the most significant of which was recurring droughts.

Cash transfer programs were fragmented and uncoordinated with different implementation arrangements leading to a variety of inefficiencies and duplication. The governance and fiduciary controls were also weak due to gaps in the quality of delivery systems across all programs.

However, as the programme commonly referred as Inua Jamii anticipates universal coverage for some of its projects, the government must consider addressing challenges that hindered penetration and service delivery for more deserving persons.

So far, the project has reached more than a million citizens who receive cash from the programmes and
the number is expected to double once the government starts to automatically credit money bimonthly
to citizens aged above 70 years.

The programmes include the Older Persons Cash Transfer (OPCT), the Cash Transfer for Orphans and
Vulnerable Children (CT–OVC) and the Persons with Severe Disability Cash Transfer (PWSD-CT) which are managed by the department of Social Protection, while the Ministry of Devolution also runs the Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP).

While the programmes have improved the living standards of the poor and vulnerable, they now face a
number of systemic and operational challenges which must be tackled with urgency. First, the government needs to foster transparency in the identification and registration of beneficiaries. For instance, after expanding reach for OPCT, some unscrupulous State officials involved in the registration of the beneficiaries were accused of listing non deserving individuals. This must stop!

The government must also act on claims that some persons could be benefiting from more than one scheme, denying some deserving cases. The government must audit all the programmes and ensure only deserving cases benefit. It must then establish a foolproof system to identify and register beneficiaries based on official documentations with authentication from both government officials and the local community.

A system that captures all the information including when the beneficiaries die or exit such programmes must be maintained. Hopefully, the effort by the government to harmonise and consolidate the schemes into a single registry under the social protection programme will weed out fraud. More importantly, the government must ensure information reaches the targeted population for registration since majority of the citizens are scattered in rural areas and urban slums where penetration might be difficult.

Finally, the government should make it much easier for beneficiaries to access the cash by ensuring the financial institutions that remits the money have paying points as close as possible to beneficiaries.

From A Human Perspective,  Let Us Have A Reality Check In Sexual Offences Act

From A Human Perspective, Let Us Have A Reality Check In Sexual Offences Act

Let us start from the premise of a popular saying that sex and money make the world go round. Really, one can hardly argue with that assertion, unless one is a eunuch or is totally sexually inhibited due to any other reason.

Simply, sex sells, and it sells big time! In more licentious societies particularly in the West, sex is a multi-billion dollar industry accruing from the sale of related audio-visual materials and paraphernalia. Therefore, it is a high time we stopped the pretence and discussed this issue from a human perspective.

The issue of sexual offences came up recently during the ongoing interviews for the position of the Chief Justice (CJ) by the Judicial Service Commission when Justice Said Juma Chitembwe was put to task over his freeing of Martin Charo, 24, who had been sentenced to 20 years in prison for having sex with a 13-year-old girl. He said that the child appeared “willing to have sex with the defendant”.

I would hate to be in Justice Chitembwe’s shoes. But it takes a man of valour like Chitembwe to stand up for reason even when he is bludgeoned by popular opinion. That is really, in my view, the mark of a CJ! Now, it is one thing for an adult to take advantage of a girl below the age of legal consent.

That should be punished severely. But what do you do when two ‘consenting’ minors are caught in the act? Do you jail both of them or, throw the male child under the bus while the acquiescent girl, sometimes the aggressor, goes scot-free? Truth be told, even those making some of these draconian and unrealistic laws against sexuality, were deflowered before the age of adulthood. Whether that was a good or bad thing is another matter best left to the moralists and individuals to grapple with.

The point is that the road to that first time is fraught with risky but sometimes unavoidable temptations. More often than not, it is consummated at the spur of the moment. I cannot put it any better than High Court Judge Luka Kimaru who recently addressed this matter comprehensively in a media con ference. While the judge duly noted that the Sexual Offences Act 2006 was progressive at the time of its enactment, it is important to review it now so as to make it compatible to current realities and dynamics.

Teenage sex has increased tremendously and, by the look of things, will stay this way for some time. The days of abstention and scare of hell are long gone as social media glorifies sex in almost all platforms. During the days of my generation’s adolescence, consensual sex between teenagers was also rife.

Those who were found out were dealt with at the family level through punishment and counsel. Sadly, these days parents have apparently given up and left teenagers to their own devices. No one is advocating for men to be given a blank cheque to indulge their testosterone driven desires of their bodies. That is the prerogative of the caveman. However, we should always remain cognizant of the fact that nature dictates men will always make the first move in relationships.

The narrative that men cannot propose to a woman in a sexual context is very unfortunate and unrealistic. How will our young men get spouses if we legislate against sexual advances, which is predominantly a male pursuit?

Of course, this has to happen within legal confines to avoid criminality, but inside the boundaries of common decency, culture and religion as well. It will be sad day when men are pushed to the wall, leaving them with no choice in pursuing their sexual attractions in order to avoid falling into legal pitfalls that criminalise their advances to women.

How President Uhuru Kenyatta Did It, To End Kenya’s Dark Nights; The Last Mile Connectivity

How President Uhuru Kenyatta Did It, To End Kenya’s Dark Nights; The Last Mile Connectivity

A majority of Kenyans love the rural areas and have for years enjoyed its tranquility, the fresh environment free of noise but loathed one thing, having no access to electricity, no power to charge phones or even listen to the local radio that was at least reachable. This in most instances forced people to close business way earlier than usual as it was considered not safe to be outside when dark. Likewise, villages used to go completely dark even as early as 7 o’clock with a long night awaited ahead. The nights were just too dark.

Fortunately, when President Uhuru Kenyatta came in to power back in 2013, there was a major turnaround in the Energy sector as far as access to electricity is concerned. The President understanding the situation Kenyans were faced with, channeled his energies on attaining universal access to electricity. Initially, only 4.5 million Kenyan households had access to electricity and was a figure way below what is considered optimum level. However, this took a major turnaround after President Uhuru Kenyatta came into power in 2013 as this figure has witnessed a more than 50% growth in the figures which has seen approxinmately 8 million Kenyan households have access to electricity.

This has brought great development in the rural towns and villages including increasing more hours of businesses, improved security through lighting of streets, students are able to do their studies at night and thereby improving themselves. This has greatly accelerated the growth of small businessess and been one of the enablers in the implementation of devolution when it comes to economic growth and development of counties.

Under the Last Mile Connectivity project, Kenya has had a 116 per cent jump in electricity connection with 4.89 million households having access to electricity from 2.26 million in March 2013 and growing to the aforementioned 8 million Kenyan households thus depicting steady growth in lighting up the country.

Moreover, streets in our estates, feeder roads and informal settlements have had the areas lit up by street lights in what has enhanced security.

Basically, there has been a progressive move in electricity connection especially throughout the country that many Kenyans can attest to. This among other areas has demonstrated President Kenyatta’s commitment in improving key areas that facilitate growth in the country. As at 2018, 78% of Kenyans had access to electricity and the number has since gone up.

Parliament Has No Power To Alter Wanjiku’s BBI Views

Parliament Has No Power To Alter Wanjiku’s BBI Views

A few days ago, the promoters of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) constitutional amendment bill announced the referendum would be in August. This is after it dawned on them the initial June date was no longer realistic.

They cited the delay by the Nation al Assembly and the Senate to pass the bill. And now some of the BBI bill promoters are pushing for reopening of the report, a move that will definitely derail the process further. The BBI bill had earlier been tabled before county assemblies and received overwhelming support. The assemblies complied with Article 257 of the Constitution which outlines a
roadmap of amending the Constitution through the popular initiative.

Under this law, the hands of the legislative bodies, both at county and national levels are tied. They have no power to alter or add a coma or fullstop to a bill that originates from views of the people. The county assemblies had two options: to either adopt or reject the bill submitted to them by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

The National Assembly and the Senate had a similar role. However, even if the two Houses rejected the original BBI bill, it wouldn’t stop the IEBC from going ahead with referendum plans. Kenyans will have the final say.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Handshake partner Raila Odinga are the key drivers of the BBI process. However, going by latest political events, it seems one or both of them has/have changed mind. They no longer lead the BBI process with same vigour and energy they exhibited at the start of the journey.

Besides their allies are now rooting for the reopening of bill and if they have eventually have their way, then the BBI bill would no longer be a popular document. Well, one of the key proposals that the MPs, who are pushing for the reopening of BBI report, are uncomfortable with is that of increasing the number of constituencies. Central Kenya is highly populated and hence it is set to receive the lion’s share of the 70 additional parliamentary seats.

The BBI bill has no clause suggesting the power to create new electoral units would be taken away from IEBC. Once adopted, the commission will still exercise this power. In the event that the document is reopened, we would result in two documents, one passed by county assemblies and the amended version endorsed by two Houses of Parliament.

So which bill will be presented to Kenyans at the referendum? Further, this would give the anti BBI team more grounds to challenge the legality of the process in court. One wonders why the same proponents of the constitution amendment initiative would want to offend the same supreme law of the land they seek to make better.

Remember how Raila allies repeatedly countered the narrative of cost of a referendum, arguing that Kenyans stand to gain more if BBI sailed through? What has changed? Kenyans deserve better leadership, please!

An Event of Bedside Comfort, Popularity and Money Is Nothing Near A Revolution

An Event of Bedside Comfort, Popularity and Money Is Nothing Near A Revolution

A warm cozy, room, with a hot cup of coffee or tea. Socks on and a stack of pillows near the work area. It may be done on the bed, the seat, the living room whichever place that evokes comfort, for comfort is key. Any sight of blood or sweat is despicable and unimaginable to them. For they don’t like to tire and move about. They don’t like to move about and the thought of just being around people is an irritant to their body especially their years. These are the individuals who claim they are revolutionists

Back in the day until now a revolution was considered a sacrificial undertaking where humanity came out in voice and in deed to defend their cause, to fight for what they know is best, they made placards, spoke and urged and convinced people to join them in the streets and support their causes. Great revolutionists were ready to sacrifice their lives, were ready to fight and indeed fought, were ready to be arrested even if it meant going it alone. From the likes of Che Guevera a major figure in the Cuba Revolution, to Martin Luther King who fought against racism in America revolutions were not a zone of comfort but moments of sacrifice, retaliation and retribution.

It demanded some sense of collegiality as they deemed unity in their work critical till they attain their cause and this was often reflected in the masses gathered and the progressive attainment of their goals. Even at our current moment in time we have seen the Arab Spring that has entangled countries of the Middle East and Northern Africa which has seen war and suffering as they spoke out and demanded change.

What would have happened if they sat back on their dear beds with phones and laptops to start tweeting and commenting on anything and everything they see go through social media. Pretty much nothing. This is the situation of people in Kenya who claim they are revolutionists in the comfort of their bedsitters, in the comfort of their warm and cozy homes who spend the better part of their day and night looking for quotable quotes and tweetable tweets. The revolutionists who cannot even raise their voice on anything. They label themselves as fighters through cartoon characters of past revolutionists on their profile pictures but cannot even stand the raging sun outside, cannot gather masses and most of all, find it down right ridiculous to carry placards, screaming and shouting to capture the attention of those they want. The farthest they can do is air their views and noise through paragraphs on social media sites away from the heat, the noise and especially away from the face of the police.

Their revolution is an open fallacy to gain clout and popularity and start making money online through following because at the end of the day they are only engaging in a selfish undertaking. There is no revolution here but a money making venture, no more no less.

Steps In The Direction Of More Resilient Post-Covid Economies

Steps In The Direction Of More Resilient Post-Covid Economies

Economies across Africa have experienced dramatic slowdown even countries with limited initial incidence of the virus faced severe economic aftershocks. Significant disruption in agricultural markets and labour in sub-Saharan Africa has restricted income and led to rapid food insecurity for many.

Ensuring emergency financial support could reach people quickly became a priority for many governments, but with lockdowns and social distancing, traditional means of distributing relief were unavailable. Countries which had invested in making financial systems more inclusive mitigated the most severe economic shocks to households.

The ability of the countries to act wasn’t built on radical reinvention, but rather on effective use of established solutions that drive digitisation, growth and inclusion. Of course, there is a limit to how much countries can expand financial access amid a crisis, so the time to upgrade financial policies and infrastructure to drive inclusion is now.

As African and global leaders look to implement plans following discussions at the World Bank and
IMF Spring Meetings last week about steps countries can take to rebuild economies from the pandemic, they need not reinvent the wheel. Here are three suggestions for how countries can make economies more resilient to future shocks.

First, countries should craft financial services regulations that provide space for companies and industry to innovate while safeguarding consumers against risks, including data privacy and cyber security. When countries get financial regulations right, the benefits of financial inclusion can accrue rapidly. Governments also need to increase ability to identify citizens and transact with them safely and quickly.

Investing in inclusive digital payment and identity infrastructure is the second step governments should take to rebuild financial systems and build more resilient economies. During the pandemic, countries
with high levels of payment and ID connectivity could quickly identify and deliver payments to households eligible for emergency funds.

Digital payment and ID systems eliminated the need for people to complete paper forms or contend with crowded lines to receive emergency funds; they could apply online or by SMS and be paid digitally. By contrast, countries with limited payment connectivity and identity systems had less effective options.

Some governments had to physically deliver cash, while others relied on social protection measures, such as subsidising the price of food or fuel. Fortunately, governments seeking to upgrade their digital financial systems need not start from scratch. They can make use of new, open-source payment and identity platforms built on best-in-class privacy, data protection and cyber security frameworks.

These innovations are accelerating digital financial inclusion in several countries. Ethiopia and Guinea are exploring pilots based on the MOSIP platform. A third step governments can take to build more resilient economies is to put women front and centre. A growing body of experimental evidence demonstrates that getting money into the hands of women to connect them to the formal financial system can lead to long-term benefits, including more decision making power in their household and greater economic security.

Through targeted emergency payment systems, enabled by strong, inclusive digital financial systems, governments have bolstered economic activity and supported women during the pandemic. An understanding of the outcomes of rapid response measures undertaken by governments to alleviate the economic impact of the pandemic will take time. It is clear, however, that over the last year, governments have preserved millions of lives and livelihoods through use of inclusive digital financial infrastructure.

As we emerge from the pandemic, governments have a chance to use lessons from the crisis to build the inclusive financial systems they will need to respond to future economic crises. By doing this, they can also position their economies for growth and resiliency in this digital century.