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Government to expand hunger safety net programme to include four more counties

The  NDMA Chairman, Raphael Nzomo flags off the Hunger  Safety Net Programme  registration exercise in Lokichoggio in Turkana West Sub County on Tuesday 18, 2020. Photo by Peter Gitonga/KNA.

The  government will from July this year expand the hunger safety net programme to include four more counties.

Hunger  safety net programme is an unconditional cash transfer programme implemented by the government through the National Drought Management Authority in four counties to a total of 101,800 households currently, to assist them address extreme poverty.

Speaking during the launch of the registration exercise for households targeted under the hunger safety net programme in Lokichoggio in Turkana West Sub County on Tuesday, the National Drought Management Authority Chairman, Raphael Nzomo said the new counties are Garissa, Tana River, Isiolo and Samburu.

Previously the programme has been benefiting residents of Turkana, Wajir, Mandera and Marsabit counties.

“In order to cushion more people in arid and semi-arid areas the government will expand the programme to Garissa, Tana River, Isiolo and Samburu counties beginning July this year bringing on board 32,000 households,” said Nzomo.

In Turkana county 39,917 households have been receiving regular cash transfers. Each household receives Sh 5,400 after every two months. Beneficiaries in the county have received Sh 6.78 billion since 2013 to March 2019.

“Under the current programme phase which started in April 2019, beneficiaries in Turkana county have so far received Sh 625.8 million as regular cash transfers out of Sh 1.64 billion disbursed to four counties. A further Sh 18.2 million out of a total of Sh 199.7 million has been disbursed to Turkana beneficiaries under the drought scale up payment category,” said Nzomo.

This financial year the government has set aside Sh.5.2 billion to support HSNP activities.

The  Principal Secretary for Devolution and Arid and Semi-Arid Areas, Micah  Powon said the government is working to a ddress insecurity in Turkana East sub county that has delayed registration of the residents in that sub county.

Kapedo  is one of the areas where the registration exercise is yet to be done due to insecurity.

Powon  added that the government has increased number of payment outlets to ensure that services are brought closer to the people.

He said the government is committed to transparency and accountability and would ensure lists of beneficiaries are made public to ensure only the deserving people benefit from the programme.

The  NDMA Chief Executive Officer, James Oduor said the government decided to move away from relief food donations to cash transfers to reduce transportation costs and also promote dignity of the beneficiaries.

“Cash transfers promote confidentiality because funds are deposited in beneficiaries’ bank accounts. There is flexibility with cash transfers allowing families to buy what they need most and they can also get loans because the funds are reliable,” said Oduor.

Responding to concerns raised by area Member of Parliament, Daniel Epuyo over delays in disbursement of funds, Oduor  said the government had budgeted for the programme and assured residents of timely disbursement.

The registration exercise launched on Tuesday targets 45,450 households in Turkana county and 165,000 households in the country.

By  Peter Gitonga

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