The government has disbursed a total of Sh413million to various women groups in Machakos through the government-sponsored Women Enterprise Fund (WEF) in the last three years.
Lower Eastern Regional Coordinator of the fund Mr. Joseph Oyowo said the beneficiaries were women group members who were engaged in various economic activities such as agriculture, goat rearing, poultry, tent hiring, trade, and property ownership among others.
Oyowo was speaking when 39 women groups from the county were presented with cheques worth Sh 9.2million during a function held at the Machakos County Commissioner’s office.
The chief guest at the event was the Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) for Health Dr. Mercy Mwangangi, assisted by her Public Works counterpart Wavinya Ndeti and the Machakos Women Representative Kamene Kasimbi.
The 39 groups comprise 465 members and are drawn from all the Sub-counties of Machakos. He said the amount covers only the month of August.
Saying that WEF loans disbursement is an on-going exercise with loans approvals done monthly, Oyowo encouraged more women to join groups through which they could apply for loans.
This way, he noted, the women would improve their economic status. “Women should not shy away from getting these loans. These are public funds set aside for their benefit. More women should therefore join groups and apply for the loans so that they use them to improve their economic standards,” said.
The coordinator commended Machakos women for their repayment record saying that currently, it stood at 97 per cent. “Women have been loyal in loan repayment although you cannot miss one or two who are wayward but then we have a mechanism of catching up with them,” he noted.
Speaking before officiating in the cheque presentation, Dr. Mwangangi decried the low uptake of the government-sponsored loaning facilities designed to cushion the vulnerable from harsh economic realities. She wondered why the targeted groups which included the women, youth and people with disabilities were not aggressive in applying for the loans.
“I am told cash is lying in accounts. Why are we not taking it? Why do we allow it to go back to the Treasury? she wondered.
She called on the women, youth and the disabled to register groups and apply for this funding. She noted that even money set aside for free maternal care through the Linda Mama initiative was being returned to Treasury unused. This means there are women who are giving birth at home instead of going to the nearest health center for free safe delivery,” she observed.
On Covid-19, Dr. Mwangangi called on Kenyans to strictly adhere to the protocols given by the government. She said the disease is reality and not something “cooked” as some Kenyans want to claim.
“This thing is a reality and it is with us,” she said and disclosed that every week she was receiving telephone calls from all over Kenya from people wanting to book ICU beds for their patients.
She similarly urged Kenyans to take advantage of the cancer treatment rolled out by the government by getting screened and treated for cancer freely.
Noting that cases of Gender-Based Violence in the county were on the increase, Dr. Mwangangi called on the Machakos County Government to identify a piece of land where the government in conjunction with other partners could put up a Gender Violence Recovery Center.
She encouraged Kenyans to sign up with the National Hospital Insurance Fund in order to enjoy affordable health care particularly now that the State-funded Universal Health Care (UHC) pilot program had come to an end.
Wavinya called on the beneficiaries of government affirmative loans to use the funds prudently and repay them promptly. Similar sentiments were expressed by the Women Representative who called on the leaderships of the beneficiary groups to avoid mismanaging the funds.
Kasimbi announced that the NGAAF under her office has set aside Sh2 million to assist school girls who have fallen pregnant during this Covid-19 period.
The three women leaders condemned the rising cases of defilement in the county and called on police to rein in men who are molesting young girls. “These hooligans should be behind bars”, said Mrs. Kasimbi. “It is sad to hear that in Masii (Mwala sub county) three girls are defiled every day. This is unacceptable and security officers should have this stopped,” she said.
They also condemned GBV cases and called for understanding between couples especially at this time when Covid-19 realities have rendered many people jobless thus causing them stress.
By Justus Keesi