Kenya: Enforce Accountability in Social Protection Bodies

Uwezo Fund is one of the social protection agencies established by the government to support the vulnerable segments of society and eradicate poverty and hunger. Its specific goal is to offer finance to groups of youth, women and persons with disabilities to enable them to get into business and earn an income to improve their economic condition.

Since establishment some seven years ago, Uwezo Fund has supported thousands of youth and women groups and people living with disability. It has created entrepreneurs and lifted thousands out of extreme poverty.

However, questions have emerged about its financial probity. The Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu has released a financial report that raises serious questions about the organisation's financial transactions.

In particular, there are questions about purchase of items such as motor vehicle tyres and precisely that the items were supplied and paid at exorbitantly. It is estimated the taxpayers could have lost some Sh4 billion in the deals, which brings to the fore the question of management of such funds.

It is too early to make conclusive determination of the actual loses and culpability. But the fact that questions have been raised indicate that something is not right and has to be acted upon.

This is not the first time a social protection enterprise finds itself on the spotlight over questionable financial transactions. It is recalled that the National Youth Enterprise Development Fund was engulfed in a major crisis in 2016 when it lost millions through dubious deals. Earlier, an initiative dubbed Kazi Kwa Vijana that was intended to provide finances to support the youth also lost millions through suspicious deals.

Reviews of the operations of these funding agencies indicate they have weak internal controls, lack proper payment and accounting procedures and allow transactions without following the relevant policies.

The perennial loss of public resources is sickening. We call for proper investigations to get to the bottom of the matter. Those found culpable should be punished.

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