The government will end the free weekly cash transfers via MPESA to poor households affected by economic knocks of COVID-19 in October.
Labour and Social Protection Cabinet Secretary, Simon Chelgui told Parliament about this plan. “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,” he said as quoted by Business Daily.
The households have since received the weekly KES 1,000 stipends since May to cushion them from the economic effects. The government estimated that a total of Kshs 1.36 billion is transferred to these beneficiaries monthly.
The CS told MPs that the initial 10 billion allotted for the cash transfer scheme was disbursed to recipients by the Interior ministry via MPESA.
This was the first phase of the cash transfer programme and it targeted those in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kwale and Kilifi. A total of 85,300 households were reached.
There will be a second and third phase of the MPESA stipend
The government wants to reach more people with the weekly MPESA stipend plan in the second phase. This will focus on 180,800 households in 17 counties. The counties are Nakuru, Kirinyaga, Meru, Embu, Muranga, Kiambu, Nyeri, Kakamega, Uasin Gishu, Kisumu, Kajiado, Kisii, Machakos, Mandera, Tharaka-Nithi, Nyamira and Migori. The third phase will benefit an additional 400,000 households in the remaining 26 counties.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to governments all over the world to result to social protection measures to mitigate its effects. One of the ways they can do this is by sending money for people to meet their basic needs.
The use of MPESA by the government to send weekly stipends is a smart move. MPESA has a whopping 98.8% of the market with 28.8 million active registered users. MPESA also has over 173,000 agents countrywide so it is incredibly easy for these people to access the money. However, this scheme has been met with controversy where some disbursements may end up in pockets of people that don’t qualify or need it.