Cash Transfers Preserve Dignity of Older Persons and Benefit their Families

On the sideline of the Open-Ended Working Group’s deliberation on the protection of older persons’ right to a dignified life, the Kenyan Mission hosted an event to share Kenya’s experience of implementing cash transfers to ensure older person’s economic and social rights. Mrs. Muriuki detailed the methodology of the cash transfer programme, saying that it focuses on reaching those who are extremely poor and above the age of 65. This ensures the optimal use of resources in reaching those who are most in need. Each month, those eligible are given an amount of 2000 Kenyan shillings to buy food and other basic necessities. She described the plan as a “cushion” for the poor against the shocks of poverty. Since instituting the cash transfer programme, Kenya has seen increases in household purchasing power, savings, and capital investments. This benefits not only the elderly, but also children, who now have higher retention rates at schools due to increases in household income.3650807476_1dda80858e

Speaking from the perspective of a charitable organization for the elderly, Mr. Mwega stated that the effect of the cash transfer programme has led to a reduction in the number of older persons seeking assistance from his organization for immediate food aid. Mr. Ole Sankok said that the same trend is also observed in his organization in the service of people with disabilities. Ms. Graham added that cash transfer programmes that make older persons the direct recipients of cash are important in enhancing their dignity, as older persons often feel disempowered when they cannot contribute to the family’s income.

Ambassador Kamau concluded the event by stating that the cash transfer programme is a novel initiative to solving problems related to poverty. He added that while much attention has been directed to the young in crafting the Sustainable Development Goals, the concerns of the old should not be overlooked.

Meeting Title: Event on Cash Transfers for Economic and Social Rights of Older Persons: Experiences from Kenya
Speakers: Mrs. Lydia Muriuki, Secretary (Social Development), the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Services of the Republic of Kenya; Mr. Elijah Mwega, Karika; Mr. David Ole Sankok, Chairperson of the National Council for Persons with Disabilities; Ms. Ellen Graham, HelpAged International; H.E. Ambassador Macharia Kamau, Permanent Representative of Kenya to the United Nations.
Location: Conference Room 9, United Nations Headquarters
Date: 30 July 2014
Summary Written By: Harrison Chung
Edited By: Marli Kasdan

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