State asked to take elderly cash stipends closer to homes

Elderly persons from Bungoma at chief's office awaiting payment of their stipends on 16th May 2022.

Photo credit: Brian Ojamaa | Nation Media Group

Community-based organisations in Bungoma County have asked the state to consider developing a better system of disbursing funds to the elderly, saying senior citizens now travel too far to get the cash.

Seniors from the county's nine constituencies sometimes spend the whole in long queues, forcing them to stay in town overnight after being served.

Some spend nights at chiefs’ offices or at relatives’ homes as they wait to be assisted before travelling back home.

Others complain that they travel long distances and spend a lot of money on transport.

Those who spoke to the Nation asked the government to bring the stipends to locations near them.

An elderly woman takes a nap as she waits for payment at a chief's office in Bungoma on 16th of May 2022.

Photo credit: Brian Ojamaa | Nation Media Group

Bungoma-based human rights activists Philip Wanyonyi and Mr Emmanuel Were demanded that the government establish alternative ways of paying the elderly so that they don’t spend most of their stipend on transport.

Many of the elderly are too sick and frail to spend long hours in queues, Mr Wanyonyi said.

Some also suffer because there are few public toilets at the payment stations, and others cannot afford to buy food as they wait to receive their money.

"We are wondering why the elderly endure pain and suffering to access [their] stipends," he said.

He said the government should find other methods of paying the stipends.

"We want the cash transfer programme devolved to the locational level to relieve the beneficiaries of the high transport costs they incur," he said.

Elderly women waiting for payment outside a chief's office in Bungoma on 16th of May 2022.

Photo credit: Brian Ojamaa | Nation Media Group

“Some of these elders with disabilities have serious mobility challenges. Why not bring services closer to them to ease the burden they go through?"

Mr Were urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to use mobile money transfers to end the suffering.

The activists said disbursing the stipends through banks had become a nightmare for senior citizens.

“It is wrong to subject the elderly to long queues and waiting hours within bank halls. Something must be done to address their plight,” he said.

Some beneficiaries, he said, own mobile phones and can get their money via mobile money transfer services.

Waiting in long queues puts their deteriorating health at greater risk, he said.

“Some of these elderly persons travel hundreds of kilometres to collect the stipend and can neither afford the fare to return home and come back the next day nor get decent accommodation in towns,” he said.