Fathers not so lucky as billions from diaspora sent to mothers

Mothers are the leading recipients of money wired home by Kenyans living and working abroad as fathers lag behind in the list of preference.

A Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) survey shows that nearly half of those sending money home prefer mothers (20 per cent), sisters (15 per cent) and brothers (14 per cent), with just 11 per cent preferring to send to their fathers.

This means that fathers rank lower in handling diaspora remittances for meeting needs such as food and medical care as well as investing in projects like real estate on behalf of those living abroad.

Diaspora remittances last year grew by a fifth to hit a record $3,718 billion (Sh422.29 billion)—translating to an average of Sh1.16 billion being received daily.

The findings reinforce the long held belief that many fathers rank lower in the priority list of their children when it comes to old age needs like medication and food.

CBK, however, did not ask the respondents why they preferred sending money to mothers or siblings ahead of their fathers.

Only five per cent of the respondents said they were sending money to their wives even though the survey said this is because many of those living abroad reside with their spouses.

“A paltry five per cent of the respondents sent remittances to their spouses. This supports the findings that the majority of respondents were married, hence living abroad with their families,” said the survey.

Last December, Gideon Cherowo Kisira, a 73-year old man from Bungoma, filed a suit in court demanding that his son, who is an employee at the Kenya Airports Authority, be compelled to give 20 per cent of his salary for his upkeep.

“Since the defendant has a good salary, I request for 20 per cent of his salary to be given to me as the father,” the old man told the court.

Most of people in the diaspora were on average sending home $333 (Sh37,860) in 2020 despite Covid-19 economic fallout.  

Those who took part in the survey said their top goal in sending money home was to support recipients to purchase of food and household goods as well as offsetting medical expenses.

Other top needs include meeting education expenses, payment of rent and household utilities and meeting costs of ceremonies.

Majority of respondents were middle-aged professionals with university qualifications who migrated in search of employment and education.

The survey revealed that more than 70 per cent of the respondents sent remittances in cash through formal channels, mainly money transfer companies, banks and mobile money operators.

The preference of mothers, sisters and brothers over fathers emerged despite another recent survey showing men were leading in access to financial products such as bank account and mobile money at 85.9 per cent compared to women at 81.7 per cent.

Kenyans on average stay abroad for 11 years with majority residing in Europe, Oceania and North America and earning more than $50,000 a year or Sh473,050 per month.

Those living in Asia and East Africa earn the lowest — majority cited less than $2,000 per annum or Sh18,960 per month, an income that also sees them send lower amounts back home. 

“This is likely reflective of the types of jobs held by migrants especially in Asia, where a good proportion of migrants take up jobs demanding less skills,” said the survey.

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