Hundreds of vulnerable persons in Magarini sub county have lauded the national government for initiating the cash transfer programme to mitigate the effects of Covid-19 pandemic.
A survey conducted by the Kenya News Agency in four sublocations within the expansive sub county revealed that the plight of many of the beneficiaries had been eased by the Sh1, 000 weekly stipends sent through their mobile phones.
The beneficiaries said the money had assisted them to better their lives at a time when they had completely lost hope after the government instituted a raft of containment measures aimed at preventing the spread of the viral disease.
Government has in the past eight weeks disbursed a total Sh21 million in weekly stipends through mobile phone transfer to 2,634 vulnerable persons in the sub county to cushion those who lost their livelihoods following the containment measures.
This is in addition to the ongoing cash transfer programmes for the elderly persons, persons with severe disabilities and orphans and vulnerable children in which the government disbursed a total of Sh51 million in April for the January to April 2020 period.
Janet Siamini, a widowed mother of six children, says funds have assisted her to feed her children and her 62-year-old co-wife as well as buy essential items for use at home following the death of her husband in April this year.
“My husband was the sole breadwinner while my co-wife and I were engaged in peasant farming, but since he died, we have had a rough time. We are grateful that the government thought of assisting those of us who had reached a point of despair,” she said.
The Kenya News Agency found Janet at her home in Kibaoni village of Madina Sublocation, Marafa location as she went about building a grass-thatched house with her co-wife, Lois Ngoyo.
“We are doing this because there is no man in the family to do it for us,” the 34-year old woman said, adding that her children are still too young to help.
The two widows said that their husband suffered a stroke and remained sick for more than four years before his demise in April this year, thus draining their already meagre resources.
His condition, they said, brought them to abject poverty as they were expected to look for money to treat their husband as well as feed themselves and the children.
“I started getting the money when my husband was still alive and it greatly assisted us get much needed drugs,” Janet said. “When I get the money, I sit with my co-wife to decide what to do with it, and this has seen us spend it wisely.”
Ms Lilian Kazia Karisa of Kalongoni village in Mikuyuni Sublocation, Garashi location within Marafa location says the money has assisted her to fend for her children after she separated with her husband.
Ms Karisa, a mother of nine children, lives at a cluster of houses constructed with the help of the Kenya Red Cross Society for people who were affected by floods in 2018. She says following the pandemic, she was unable to take care of her fairly large family as she also lost employment.
“Life is a little more bearable since I started receiving the funds. I appreciate the fact that the money comes in form of cash as opposed to the usual relief supplies,” Ms Karisa says.
62-year old Sidi Kazungu, a resident of Mapimo village in Gongoni location, Magarini division suffered a stroke about one and a half months ago and is not able to do anything.
The mother of four fully grown children is unable to walk as the stroke paralyzed her right leg and hand and is being taken care of by her first-born daughter, Pola Kazungu.
She says she is grateful that the government is giving her the weekly stipends, but calls for more saying what she is getting is not enough money to help her buy foodstuffs and medicine for her condition. Her house is also in a state of disrepair.
For Mahenzo Kaingu Kapombe, a resident of Malecha village of Kaembeni Sublocation, Magarini division, the money is a godsend.
The single mother of six children was a casual labourer at Kay Salt, a salt manufacturing firm in Gongoni, but was laid off when the company scaled down its workforce to fulfil the Ministry of Health guidance on social distancing.
“This money has really assisted me to buy food and other essentials since I was left jobless due to Corona. Had this money not been availed, I do not know what I would do with my children,” she says.
Magarini Deputy County Commissioner Mbiuki Mutembei says the government has disbursed close to Sh72.4 million this year through the various cash transfer programmes aimed at cushioning the vulnerable in society.
“In Magarini, we identified 2,634 households which we found most hit by the effects of the pandemic, and they have so far received about Sh21 million in the past eight weeks, with each receiving Sh1,000 per week.
“This is in addition to about Sh51.5 million disbursed through the Inua Jamii programme for the elderly, as well as funds for persons with severe disabilities and orphans and vulnerable children, who received Sh8,000 each in April,” the administrator says.
His sentiments were supported by the Sub County Social Development Officer, Ms Fatuma Mohamed and the Sub County Director of Children Services, Mr. Sebastian Muli Muteti, who flanked him during a media briefing at the Magarini Assistant County Commissioner’s office in Gongoni.
Ms Fatuma Mohamed, the Magarini Sub County Social Development Officer, says 3,896 elderly persons received Sh31 million under the Inua Jamii cash transfer fund while 184 persons with severe disabilities got about Sh1.5 million.
The amounts were for the months of January, February, March and April this year and they were disbursed in arrears in April to cushion the beneficiaries from the effects of the pandemic, she says.
On his part, the Sub County Children Officer, Mr. Sebastian Muli Muteti, says out of the 2,963 households identified to be having orphans and vulnerable children, 2,363 had received more than Sh18.9 million as transferred to caregivers.
By Emmanuel Masha