Food security group disagrees over exclusion of Makonde from cash transfer
The exclusion of the Makonde community that was recently granted Kenyan citizenship rights, from a cash transfer programme targeting the hungry in Kwale generated a heated debate during a County Steering Group meeting.
The meeting chaired by County Commissioner Kutswa Olaka at the Kwale Cultural Centre almost came to an abrupt end after it emerged that Kenya’s newest and 43rd ethnic community had been left out of the national government relief programme that is doling out cash handouts instead of food rations in selected drought-stricken areas.
The disagreement ensued after a report on the roll-out plan of the Okoa Uhai Scratch Card Cash Transfer project in the county was presented without mentioning the community which originally came from Mozambique.
Mr. Olaka raised concern over the exclusion of Makonde from the programme and asked those running the project to consider their plight along with the other beneficiaries of the cash transfer.
According to Mr. Olaka, President Uhuru Kenyatta had ordered a deliberate affirmative action towards the community which should be complied with to uplift their living standards.
“It’s the President’s wish that the Makonde be given a share of any form of government assistance along with the locals as they have been marginalised for long,” he said.
The programme which is funded by the government with support from the World Food Programme (WFP) is a drought response plan to drought hit farmers.
It is targeting a total of 57, 933 households in Kinango, Lunga Lunga, Msambweni, and Matuga Sub-counties that are severely affected by drought.
WFP Programme Associate Josiah Bundi opposed a proposal by Mr. Olaka to have the Makonde get between 10 and 50 percent of the total allocation arguing that by the time they were budgeting for the relief the community had no identification documents thus their exclusion.
At the same, Mr. Bundi said that Msambweni where the majority of the community members live, has a smaller allocation of only 1,000 households benefiting under the programme and it was therefore hard to consider 700 Makonde households as ordered by the Commissioner.
“When we were doing the distribution plan in terms of the specific sites to have the programme, the Makonde were not yet affirmed as citizens and that is why they were not considered,” he said.
Mr. Bundi also argued that the programme was specifically targeting farmers and not those living in poverty and therefore leaving out the community was justified since they do not fall in the farmer bracket.
The scratch cards have a value of Sh2, 300 and the beneficiaries will have the money transferred into their accounts once they scratch the card and input a pin.
The project will run for three months from May to July 2017.
By Chari Bakari/James Muchai