Needy Kenyans will soon get a monthly income to meet their basic needs in a programme similar to those carried out in welfare states.
However, before the programme dubbed Saidia Jamii (help the family) is rolled out, the government will first disburse Sh600 million to a group of vulnerable people living in the slums as a test project.
“The outcome of the pilot programme will inform the roll-out of Saidia Jamii programme in July 2010, Prime Minister Raila Odinga told journalists Wednesday at his Treasury office after receiving an interim report of a task force formed to come up with a food subsidy scheme to cushion the poor from increasing food prices and effects of famine.
The pilot programme, he said, will be implemented in three phases by the government and its development partners.
In the first phase, a group of 100,000 people drawn from 20,000 households in Mathare, Korogocho, Mukuru and Kibera slums in Nairobi will benefit.
“Each household will be receiving Sh1,500 per month delivered through mobile phone transfer and electronic card system,” the PM said.
The phase is expected to end in June next year.
The second phase of the programme, which will also end in June, Mr Odinga said, will be extended to Kisumu and Mombasa. This will be in the month of March next year.
In the two towns another 100 people, he added, will benefit before it extended to other parts of the country.
Beneficiaries of the project will be identified through community participation, said the PM.
The taskforce was formed in response to escalating food prices, which some of the poor cannot afford.
The entire Saidia Jamii programme, which the taskforce has developed, is aimed at protecting the vulnerable and poor households in urban and rural areas from the negative impacts of food insecurity.
Mr Odinga said the report will first be adopted by the Cabinet before it is taken to Parliament for debate.
If approved by Parliament, it will become law.
The Premier said that through the report, the government has emphasised its commitment to solving poverty across the country.
“A lot of emphasis has been put in the past to the rural poor, but we know that many Kenyans out there have difficulties in making ends meet. The urban poor, for instance, get seriously affected by fluctuations of food prices and need assistance,” Mr Odinga said.
He gave assurances that the programme would succeed.
The task force members, in their report, say that the government and its partners will first set up internal administrative mechanisms to deliver cash to the beneficiaries.
They will also test the design and implementation of a cash-transfer programme.
The programme will be evaluated, the report continues to say during a mid-term review planned for March next year.
Mr Odinga, however, pointed out that out of the Sh600 million 30 per cent of it will be used on administration.
Apart from the task force members, others present during the press briefing were ministers Dr Naomi Shaban (Special Programmes) and her Planning counterpart Wycliffe Oparanya.
Finance assistant minister Dr Oburu Oginga was also present as well as permanent secretaries Prof Karega Mutahi (Education) and Dr James Nyikal (Gender).