M-Pesa agents to disburse social protection payouts


A customer at an M-Pesa outlet. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Beneficiaries of the government’s social protection fund for the elderly, orphans and disabled will now receive their payments from M-Pesa agent shops as the State moves to cushion them from the logistical expenses incurred on bank withdrawals.

During the fete to mark this year’s Jamhuri Day, President William Ruto announced that the government has partnered with Safaricom to offer the service without charges.

“This programme has had challenges, with the beneficiaries travelling long distances and spending considerable portions of their stipends on logistics. Working with Safaricom, we have structured a new delivery mechanism for all our stipend-earning beneficiaries to receive their stipends from M-Pesa agents in their localities,” said Dr Ruto.

The head of State disclosed that orphans and persons with disabilities will begin using the service this month, while the elderly will have to wait until next January as the players move to integrate the processes.

“I commend Safaricom for demonstrating corporate patriotism and providing this service free of charge,” he said.

The President further disclosed that the government had allocated an additional Sh2 billion for newly enrolled beneficiaries of the cash transfer programme who are undergoing verification. He said their stipends will be disbursed from next March.

The fund, which was launched in 2015 by former President Uhuru Kenyatta, sees beneficiaries take home Sh2,000 a month as a cushion from hunger and poverty.

Data published by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics in the Demographic Health Survey in July revealed that 18.9 percent of households rely on the programme or other social assistance initiatives for survival, highlighting the pronounced burden on taxpayers, friends and relatives.

According to the report, senior citizens who bank on social programmes for survival are only four percent of the population.

The survey findings noted that 19.7 percent of rural households survive on assistance compared to 12.6 percent in urban settings.

The data came at a time the country is grappling with tough economic hardships coupled with a high unemployment rate that stood at 13.9 percent in December last year.

At the time, 2.97 million Kenyans were jobless, which was a 2.94 percent rise from 2.89 million three months earlier.

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