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.