…they are told that they need to have their finger prints taken….when their fingerprints cannot be accessed and accepted by the biometric machines, they are told that they need to go and drink tea, water and/or eat so that their bodies can gain strength.

Quote and photo from the field. By ESR Edwin Ameso.

2019.08.15 | Mia Korsbæk

All ESR's are on fieldwork in various parts of Africa in 2019. As part of the dissemination they will be sending a photo and a quote from the field while they are away.   

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This photo and quote from the field comes from ESR Edwin Ameso who is doing his fieldwork in Kenya on health insurance and social protection. Read more about his research here.

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Edwin: Alex…what’s happening at the banks…it’s been a week and I have been observing these long queues of the elderly and others gathered at the banks. What is going on?

Alex: After 6 months of waiting… finally, it was announced by the chiefs that, cash transfer moneys for the elderly, persons with severe disabilities as well as orphans and vulnerable children had been disbursed. However, it is a pity…just look at our elderly parents, they have been camping here at these two banks (Kenya Commercial Bank and Equity Bank) for days waiting to receive their cash.

Edwin: They look so tired and really struggling, how long do you think they have been waiting here to get the money?

Alex: They have been here for a while and most of them just sleep on these cold floors here because they cannot afford to go back to their homes which are 30 kilometers away and even more…It costs close to 10 dollars on average to access the only banks in 30,000 square kilometers. They have been sitting here for days, they are told that they need to have their finger prints taken for the money to be processed, the system apparently keeps on breaking down and when their fingerprints cannot be accessed and accepted by the biometric machines… they are told…to go and drink tea, water and/or eat so that their bodies can gain strength and the machine can read their finger prints. Now from the cold of the night they are now experiencing the extreme heat of the day…unable to afford any form of meal and having journeyed for long distances they are left with only one solution…sit and hopefully wait. Wait and hope that their names are on the list of beneficiaries to receive the stipend…as they are stranded and indebt…with motorcyclists who ferried them to the banks on credit wait patiently for them to receive their eagerly awaited stipend.

The conversation presents an extract of one of many informal conversations that I had with a friend, Alex, about the plight of those registered to receive cash transfers. They go for long periods as they wait to receive what is strictly supposed to be a monthly stipend. When the money comes some of the beneficiaries are missing and for those who are lucky enough still go through extraordinary checks of authentication to guarantee that they are indeed beneficiaries. For days, these individuals wait patiently for what has become a social survival assistance system. They solely depend on the stipend to afford their health needs, meet their food security concerns and other basic needs. The county health insurance is a priority setting for the elderly, orphans and vulnerable as they utilize the stipend to pay for the annual premiums. The delayed disbursement of the cash transfer has a direct correlation with subscription to health insurance across the sub-county. The interplay between cash transfers and health insurance acquisition is a unique relation that is limiting especially based on economics and knowledge as well as access. The environment presents limited access to insurance services as well as financial services.

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