The government will from July this year double the number of counties under the Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP).
According to the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), the programme will be expanded to cover four more counties.
The HSNP is an unconditional cash transfer programme implemented by the government in four counties aimed at helping 101,800 households address extreme poverty. The expansion is expected to bring on board 32,000 more households.
The State programme currently covers Turkana, Wajir, Mandera and Marsabit counties.
Speaking last week during the launch of the registration for targeted households in Lokichoggio in Turkana West Sub-county, NDMA Chairman Raphael Nzomo (pictured) announced that Garissa, Tana River, Isiolo and Samburu counties would be included in the programme.
“To cushion more people in arid and semi-arid areas, the government will expand the programme beginning July this year,” he said.
In Turkana County, 39,917 households have been receiving regular cash transfers, with each household receiving Sh5,400 every two weeks.
According to NDMA, beneficiaries in the county have received Sh6.78 billion between 2013 and March 2019.
“Under the current phase of the programme, which started in April 2019, beneficiaries in Turkana County have so far received Sh625.8 million as regular cash transfers out of Sh1.64 billion disbursed to the four counties,” said Mr Nzomo.
“A further Sh18.2 million out of a total of Sh199.7 million has been disbursed to Turkana beneficiaries under the drought scale-up payment category.”
According to Nzomo, the government has set aside Sh5.2 billion to support HSNP activities this year.
Asal Areas Principal Secretary Micah Powon said the government is working to address insecurity in Turkana East Sub-county that has delayed registration of residents for the hunger alleviation programme.
Mr Powon said the government has increased the number of payment outlets to ensure that services are brought closer to the people.
He said lists of beneficiaries would be made public to ensure only deserving households benefit from the programme, and in keeping with transparency and accountability.
NDMA Chief Executive James Oduor said the government decided to move away from relief food donations to cash transfers to reduce transportation costs.
“Cash transfers promote confidentiality because funds are deposited in beneficiaries’ bank accounts. There is also flexibility with cash transfers, allowing families to buy what they need most. They can also get loans because the funds are reliable,” he said.
Responding to concerns raised by area MP Daniel Epuyo over delays, Mr Oduor said the government has already budgeted for the programme and assured residents of timely cash disbursements.