The Star (Kenya)

Kazi Mtaani has cre­ated jobs for 283,000 youths

- CHARLES HINGA Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary, State Depart­ment of Hous­ing and Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment Business · Unemployment · Employment · Society · Uhuru Kenyatta · Nairobi · World Bank · Safaricom

The so­cioe­co­nomic bur­den of Covid-19 on the youth has been im­mense, with the im­pact felt across the coun­try, more so in ur­ban cen­tres. Many in em­ploy­ment have had to take re­duced pay while oth­ers have lost jobs. A good num­ber in self-em­ploy­ment have been forced to close busi­ness, their pri­mary means of liveli­hood. As ear­lier men­tioned, the youth have borne the brunt of this pandemic, with jobs lost. Daily or ca­sual work is hard to find for them to buy food, pay rent, and meet other obli­ga­tions.

There is in­cred­i­ble strain in fam­i­lies across the board with the youth suf­fer­ing stress aris­ing from today’s eco­nomic chal­lenges. This suf­fer­ing prompted Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta to ini­ti­ate the Na­tional Hy­giene Pro­gramme, pop­u­larly known as Kazi Mtaani, with the twin ob­jec­tive of putting food on the ta­ble for the youth who have lost their means liveli­hood as well as im­prov­ing health and san­i­ta­tion in in­for­mal set­tle­ments.

The first phase of Kazi Mtaani had by May re­cruited 31,689 youths from eight coun­ties that ini­tially bore the brunt of Covid-19. Th­ese coun­ties are Man­dera, Kil­ifi, Kwale, Mom­basa, Nairobi, Nakuru, Ki­ambu and Kisumu.

The pro­gramme was funded by the Na­tional Gov­ern­ment and sup­ported by the World Bank to the tune of Sh740 mil­lion. The youths, in the age group 18-35 years, earn Sh650 in Nairobi, Mom­basa, and Kisumu and Sh600 per day in other coun­ties.

The main ac­tiv­i­ties in Phase One of the pro­gramme in­cluded clear­ing ac­cess paths, un­clog­ging drainages, bush clear­ing, garbage col­lec­tion and fu­mi­ga­tion in the in­for­mal set­tle­ments. Th­ese ac­tiv­i­ties were se­lected due to their labour-in­ten­sive na­ture and, as such, pro­vided many job op­por­tu­ni­ties. Phase Two was rolled out in July to cover over 1,000 in­for­mal set­tle­ments in the en­tire coun­try af­ter the suc­cess of Phase One.

Re­cruit­ment for this phase was con­ducted at the in­for­mal set­tle­ments level un­der the Nyumba Kumi ini­tia­tive in part­ner­ship with other state agen­cies and county gov­ern­ments.

Some 283,210 work­ers were re­cruited and split into two co­horts, each work­ing 11 days a month.

The work­ers carry out sim­i­lar jobs as in Phase One as well as oth­ers of per­ma­nent na­ture ex­pected to im­pact their com­mu­ni­ties.

The added job op­por­tu­ni­ties are pave­ment of streets us­ing cob­ble­stones, prepa­ra­tion of sta­bilised soil blocks for the con­struc­tion of class­rooms and pub­lic toi­lets, paint­ing and re­pair of gov­ern­ment fa­cil­i­ties, as well as green­ing of ur­ban cen­tres, plant­ing and grow­ing of trees, and en­gag­ing in ur­ban agri­cul­ture. The over­all bud­get for Kazi Mtaani, which is ex­pected to run un­til the end of the year, is Sh10 bil­lion. Much of this bud­get will be spent on wages.

To ac­com­mo­date as many work­ers as pos­si­ble and to ex­tend the pro­gramme for a longer pe­riod, the daily wage was set at Sh455 per day for work­ers and Sh505 for su­per­vi­sors. The gov­ern­ment has ap­proached Sa­fari­com to be the pay­ing agent so that work­ers re­ceive wages di­rectly to their reg­is­tered M-pesa phone num­bers.

Sa­fari­com has also waived the re­cov­ery of Fuliza loans such that the youth do not end up pay­ing their loans with Kazi Mtaani earn­ings. The par­tic­i­pants have a grace pe­riod in which to with­draw their earn­ings.

The ini­tial mode of pay­ment was two way: for the first five days worked and for the last six days worked. This changed af­ter an ap­peal from youths that they be paid for the 11 days worked in one tranche.

Pay­ments are done in batches - work­ers are paid five days af­ter they go off-shift. This al­lows for pay­ment reg­is­ters to be pre­pared and due dili­gence con­ducted to en­sure that those who worked are paid. I am glad to note that the we are cur­rently regis­ter­ing 96 per cent suc­cess rate for pay­ments, an im­prove­ment of four per cent over what we achieved in the first cy­cle of pay­ments.

Our ex­pe­ri­ence has shown that most of the youth not paid pro­vided phone num­bers reg­is­tered with ID num­bers dif­fer­ent from their own. It is there­fore im­por­tant that the Kazi Mtaani youths sub­mit cor­rect de­tails.

Oth­ers whose pay­ments failed were found to have were in­ac­tive or frozen phone lines while oth­ers were yet to be reg­is­tered on M-pesa plat­form. I en­cour­age the youths to cor­rect the er­rors on sub­mit­ted de­tails. They should pro­vide the cor­rect in­for­ma­tion to their county im­ple­men­ta­tion teams to fa­cil­i­tate timely bulk pay­ments.

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