(Nairobi, July 20, 2021) – Kenyan authorities failed to design a social security program that would guarantee everyone, not just a few, an adequate standard of living during the pandemic, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.
The 77-page report, “We Are All Vulnerable Here: Kenya’s Pandemic Cash Transfer Program Riddled with Irregularities” found that only a small fraction of vulnerable families in Nairobi benefited from the program, which was characterized by lack of transparency, cronyism, nepotism and outright favoritism. Government officials failed to follow the stated selection criteria or to share information that should have enabled more vulnerable families to enroll.
Rosemary Mungai, Village Chairwoman, Mukuru: When coronavirus came, we experienced so many problems because there was just no money.
Esther Arumba, Laundry Worker, Mukuru: Because of the nature of my job, I couldn’t get any work. I would just boil water and go to sleep with the kids.
Strict Covid-19 lockdowns have hit especially hard for people in Nairobi’s informal settlements. Without a social security system to help them when they can’t work, people face starvation and eviction.
Rosemary Mungai, Village Chairwoman, Mukuru: As you know there are no jobs at the moment, so I live with seven of my grandchildren. And I’m the one fending for them. (Speaking to potential customer) I’m selling soap for Kshs. 20 (.18 USD).
Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenyan President (Courtesy of KTN NEWS ): There are many Kenyans who have been stripped of their dignity, who cannot feed their families or pay their rent and many of these Kenyans find themselves in very vulnerable and difficult situations. Every single week my administration has been dispatching 250 million shillings to vulnerable families.
The Kenyan president pledged to send cash to the people hardest hit by Covid-19 restrictions, but the money only reached about five percent of those who needed it in Nairobi.
Esther Arumba, Laundry Worker, Mukuru: I didn’t get the cash.
Instead of distributing the cash to people in dire need, many government officials registered their own family and friends. And today, millions of people are still desperate for support.
Rosemary Mungai, Village Chairwoman, Mukuru: There should be transparency. They should stop embezzling funds meant for the underprivileged. They should continue the program and increase the number of people. We can identify those of us in dire need within our communities.
Esther Arumba, Laundry Worker, Mukuru: The government should be transparent and extend the program.
The Kenyan government should follow through on its promise ensure that the cash reaches those who need it the most.
All Kenyans have a right to a decent standard of living.
Rosemary Mungai, Village Chairwoman, Mukuru: We are asking the government to take care of its citizens.