The Older Persons Cash Transfer Program (OPCT) has positively impacted senior citizens in Busia County. This was testified by elderly persons who narrated their journey since the program was initiated.
The OPTC was officially introduced in 2007 by the National government with an aim of providing regular and predictable cash transfer to poor and vulnerable older persons aged 70 years and above for identified deserving households.
It started as a pilot in three districts, in Thika, Nyando and later in Busia County under the Rapid Results Initiative (RRI). The program currently covers about 203,011 households in the whole country.
In Busia County over 10,000 elderly persons have so far been enrolled in the program. The program is targeting old people who are not in any form of employment and do not earn a pension.
Speaking to Kenya News Agency, the officer in charge of children affairs in the county and currently dealing with cash transfer for the old and people with disability Patrick Mukolwe said the elderly are receiving money in arrears from the month of October 2021 totaling to Sh8000 per household.
“There has not been any new enrolment in the program but instead we have been dealing with those who are already captured but were facing challenges such as names and ID numbers not matching in the system,” Mukolwe said.
He noted that they have added two banks that will be providing the service that is National Bank and Kenya Women Finance Trust bank (KWFT) as addition to the previous banks, which included Equity bank, Kenya Commercial bank, Post Bank, and Cooperative bank.
“Previously every older person was forced to withdraw money once it has been disbursed into their account but currently, they are allowed to do so twice without any charges for a period of up to 6months,” he narrated.
Mukolwe also confirmed that money is only given to the beneficiary and not to the next of kin captured in the program even if he/she is reported to be sick. In such cases, one is given time to recover before coming to collect the cash.
Shaban Baraza, a resident from Matayos in Busia County who is 84 years old, is one of the beneficiaries of this program. Baraza says that the two thousand shillings he gets from the program per month has changed his life because he is now able to fend for his needs.
“I use the cash to buy food in the house since all my children are not able to assist me financially,” he said adding that he also uses the money to pay for people who help him with a few house chores because he stays alone.
Baraza also said that from the little cash remaining after his expenditure he was able to buy a goat and breed two other young goats. He added that he is now planning to sell the goats and buy a cow.
Henrica Mukade, a beneficiary from Bukhayo West, 86 years says that the funds have helped her pay for her grandchildren’s school fees, which were left under her care. She also confirmed that since the year 2010, she has collected the money and used it to buy two cows, which are now earning her money through selling milk.
“I want to thank the national government for giving us the money, through this I can now live happily with my grandchildren providing for all their basic needs,” said Mukade.
She also said that after the outbreak of Covid 19 pandemic, life became so hard and were it not for the funds from this program she would not have survived.
By Frodah Namayi