The government has today launched the Baseline Survey Report of Kenya’s Inua Jamii, the 70 Years and Above Cash Transfer Programme.
This comes as the world today marks the 30th Anniversary of the International Day of Older Persons since its inception in 1990.
Speaking during the launch and also marking the celebrations at the NSSF building, Labour and Social Protection Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui said the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the older generation cannot be underestimated.
The Pandemic, he noted has brought to light some of the underlying structural weaknesses not only in Kenya but also around the world, cutting across the Sustainable Development Goals on poverty eradication, good health, education, income, water and sanitation, economic growth and reduced inequalities.
“Older persons are confronted by higher risks during pandemics. Therefore, it is imperative for governments to put in place interventions that will help reduce their vulnerabilities,” he said.
He explained that in Kenya older people are about 2.7 million against a population of 48 million Kenyans, which constitutes about 6% of the country’s total population.
Through the Older Persons Cash Transfer (OPCT) programme that the government is running, the government is able to cover 833,000 out of the 1.2 million older persons and this he said shows that there is still a shortfall.
The CS said that he has tabled in Cabinet the Social Assistance Bill to make it universal and that once it is passed, it will support not only with grants but enable administrators to receive support from people of good will to support the old.
“Issues that affect the old are medical, diet and social support. we are working with the finance ministry to pay especially for the medical cover and we will also reduce the age to 60 years and increase quantum so that the older people are adequately catered for,” he said
From today’s survey, CS Chelugui said there is need to now carry out an assessment and check on the impact of the inua Jamii 70+ programme as a learning tool and be able to embrace it as an investment
The CS said the elderly people should be well cushioned saying that the government has 1,800 lay volunteer counsellors to assist older persons but noted that there are many ways that the young people can boost the old people self-esteem.
“These old people need to have their self-esteem, need social connection., strong friendship and close family connection. I want to urge the young to visit them and even seek advice from them and also celebrate events in their households and make them feel part of the society,” Chelugui said
On today’s celebrations, CS Chelugui said the day serves as a call-to-action for Government, individuals, organizations and communities to raise awareness about issues affecting older persons such as neglect, abandonment, violence, exploitation and more recently the Covid-19 pandemic.
The theme for this year’s celebrations is “Pandemics: Do They Change How We Address Aged and Ageing”.
Senior Deputy Country Director, World Food Programme, Calum Gardner said the study will be an avenue that will see reduction of the old people falling or even staying on to poverty.
“The income they get is a guarantee to elderly and thus improves food security and this is starting point for the future assessments of higher returns for the increment even at this time that the pandemic has struck
Giving the findings of the baseline survey report, Head of Social Assistances Unit at the Department of Social Protection John Gachigi said that data collection was carried out between 26th March and 2nd April 2018 in 12 locations in Bungoma, Muranga and Turkana using electronic devises
“We asked respondents to estimate their total income from all sources in the 30 days before the survey and most of them get an average income of 2,573,” he said adding that with the addition 2000 from the inua jamii programme, they are able to cater for some of their needs such as food and even hospital insurance.
On the issue of food security however, Gachigi said that most respondents said that they eat on average 2 meals a day, 23.88 percent had three or more meals while 22.92 percent had only one meal.
Overall, he noted that 40 percent of respondents had responded to have physical health issues, 27 percent were those between 60 and 65 years while those over 70 years were at 25 percent.
Gachigi said that prior to the inua Jamii programme, most senior citizens could not go to any social gatherings, attend churches but now since the introduction of the stipend from government they are able to attend events, they are positive towards life and felt happy.
By Wangari Ndirangu