Senior citizens aged 70 and above will receive the first bi-monthly government stipend of Sh4,000 in March, Labour and Social Protection secretary Phyllis Kandie has said.
The elderly citizens will also get free medical cover through the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF).
The March cash transfer will comprise monthly disbursements for January and February under the Inua Jamii plan, whose implementation was a key plank of the Jubilee election campaign promises.
The stipend, considered a non-contributory social pension for the elderly, is being implemented by the Ministry of East African Community, Labour and Social Protection.
The Treasury allocated Sh6.7 billion to kick-start the scheme in January covering the first half of the year to June.
“The beneficiaries will receive a stipend of Sh2,000 per month. This means in March, the beneficiary will receive a sum of Sh4,000 for January and February cycle,” said Ms Kandie in an interview.
The ‘Inua Jamii 70 years and above cash transfer programme’ is an enhancement of the previous cash transfer initiated in 2012 targeted at individuals aged above 65 and living in extreme poverty.
The 2009 National Census projected the 2017 population of older persons aged 70 and above at 973,000.
Better health care has seen life expectancy in the country rise even as the elderly lack pension plans.
It gets worse if they live in urban areas where inflation is unforgiving in a period when the social setup of relying on relatives is collapsing.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) report of 2015 estimates life expectancy in Kenya at 63 years. When the cash transfer programme for those aged above 65 was introduced in 2012, the plan was to ensure that the country’s senior citizens do not slide into extreme poverty, hunger and consequent premature death.
To qualify for the Inua Jamii scheme, senior citizens ought to have been born before 1947 and with valid first generation identification cards.
“It is envisioned that by providing the bi-monthly, regular and unconditional cash transfers to the 70 years and above senior citizens, it will provide them with the much needed social support required to access social services in health and other amenities,” reads the Ministry’s website.
The government currently supports four unconditional cash transfer programs including Older Persons Cash transfers (OPCT), Hunger Safety Net Programme (in Turkana, Wajir, Mandera and Marsabit counties), Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC-CT) and Persons with severe disabilities (PWSD-CT).
Ms Kandie said beneficiaries in OPCT, CT-OVC and PWSD programmess will get their pay in January for the November to December 2017 cycle.
The bi-monthly cash transfers for persons aged 70 years and above will be made through active bank and mobile phone accounts of the registered beneficiaries.
To register as beneficiaries under the Inua Jamii plan, the older persons must travel to the county and sub-county offices of the Department for Children Services and Department of Social Services.
Details of their nominated care givers will also be captured including their valid National ID cards as well as mobile phone numbers and National ID numbers of their village elders.