June 9, 2017 - Elderly community members in Muthithi Location, Kenya, will begin receiving government benefits. During a field visit, PEP researchers who had completed a study in the area using Community Based Monitoring Systems (CBMS) discovered that some eligible community members were not receiving benefits.
Salehe* is a widower who is over 70 years old and lives on less than 34 USD per month. When he gets sick, he buys aspirin at the local shop and prays that he gets better. The village clinic is too expensive for him. He did not know about the government welfare program for the elderly and the local authority did not know he existed. This government welfare scheme provides around 15 USD per month to those who are 70 years and over.
Following the visit, the research team provided the local government with a list of the elderly in the community to make sure all are receiving their benefits.
Organized as part of the 2017 PEP Annual Conference, applicant teams for CBMS research projects visited Muthithi Location on June 9, 2017. The visit was a chance to see the study site of a successful CBMS project.
The team leader, Dr. Diana Kimani, presented the research findings during a meeting with local officials and community members. Officials included Daniel Ng’ang’a, the Muthithi Location Acting Chief, and Henry Mwangi, the Muranga County Director for the Ministry of Youth and Gender Affairs.
The project surveyed over 11,000 community members and found nearly 38% are living below the poverty line. Over 60% of the population in Muthithi Location do not have access to safe drinking water nor access to adequate sanitary facilities.
Despite eligibility for government-provided entrepreneurship funding, only 10 people in the community said they had accessed the Youth Enterprise Fund, Women Enterprise Fund, or UWEZO ("enabling" in Kiswahili) Fund. Of those surveyed, the main barriers to entrepreneurship are access to finance, electricity, and transport.
A walk around the CBMS census site followed the meeting. This visit was a key opportunity for local officials to meet community members and to put a human face to the statistics. It was also a chance for applicant researchers to hear how some of those surveyed found the experience.
PEP applicant teams saw how the Kenyan team trained local health visitors to be enumerators. The enumerators shared their experience of using the Android tablets to collect data. By working with people who had pre-established links with community members and who could combine survey taking with health visits, the team was able to collect data from more households than had previously been surveyed.
The visit concluded with a tour of a small cassava processing factory. Set up by Michael Murigi, one of the research team members, the factory is also an example of a successful youth enterprise in Muthithi Location. Three to four people normally work at the factory to dry and mill the cassava roots.
The opportunity to see how a CBMS project was carried out and its ongoing impact was particularly valuable to the applicant researchers. In the days following the field visit, the researchers attended training sessions on the CBMS methodology and tools before presenting their proposals for comments and feedback.
*Name has been changed