The Sh1,000 weekly M-pesa stipend to cushion Kenyans during this tough financial times is a reality to some, a rumour to many and unknown to the majority.
The government has now announced plans to stop the payments after six months of sending Sh 1,000 to vulnerable Kenyans through Mpesa on a weekly basis.
The Cabinet Secretary for Labour and Social Protection, Simon Chelugui, told parliament that the cash transfers would be halted within the first week of October.
The government estimates to have spent about Sh1.36 billion every month in cash transfers to some of Kenya’s poorest households. About 341,958 households have benefited from the weekly package meant to cushion vulnerable families during these tough economic times occasioned by the Coronavirus pandemic.
The beneficiaries of the stimulus package are mainly spread out in low income urban informal settlements such as Kibra, Mathare, Mukuru kwa Njenga and Mukuru kwa Reuben in Nairobi; Nyalenda in Kisumu; and Bangladesh in Mombasa among others.
The beneficiaries include homes with a high poverty index where the breadwinner is disabled, widowed or an orphan.
The Interior ministry transferred the initial Sh10 billion allotment through Mpesa, the CS said. He added that their target was to reach at least 669,000 households across the 47 counties.
“Targeting is still ongoing for the remaining balance of 327,042 households into the programme who will be paid up to the first week of October 2020,” Mr Chelugui said.
Read Also: Impact of Covid-19 on Technology
The first phase saw at least 85,300 poor households in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kwale and Kilifi benefit from the package. These were the initial Covid-19 hot spots where lockdown and travel restrictions were implemented.
The second phase targeted poor households in 17 more counties; Meru, Kirinyaga, Nyeri, Nakuru, Embu, Kiambu, Uasin-Gishu, Murang’a, Kisumu, Kajiado, Machakos, Mandera, Kisii, Nyamira, Kakamega,Tharaka Nithi and Migori.
The third phase is set to benefit about 40,000 households in the 26 remaining counties. 75,858 households out of the target number of 400,000 are already enrolled in the programme.
Across the world, many governments have also implemented cash transfers to cushion its citizens from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The scheme has also been met with controversy amid claims that some of the money could be ending up in the wrong hands. Some officials on the grassroots have been accused of registering their contacts in a bid to benefit themselves from the programme.