The clean up programme launched in Kibera by President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2014 in partnership with National Youth Service turned into a breeding ground of a scam that saw cohorts lose hundreds of millions deposited in a saving funds.
President Kenyatta, while launching the programme, noted that “3,000 young men and women in Kibera will be engaged in the project where part of their wages will be saved into a fund to enable them to continue with income generating activities after the programme ends.”
The program was later reciprocated in constituencies within Nairobi.
In Kibera, Jacob Lutta (not his real name) was among the lucky 3,000 youth who signed up to work in their community in partnership with National Youth Service.
Their main job was to clean filthy trenches, sweep roads and construct ablution blocks within Kibera.
Jacob had stayed in Kibera for three years without any employment until the NYS opportunity. He was excited about the opportunity.
‘HELP PEOPLE DIRECTLY’
”I joined the program immediately and to tell you the truth we were happy. Imagine going days without a shilling to earning 450 per day. The most exciting part was working in our community and making it a better place to live in. Some of the projects like the ablution block would help our people directly” added Jocob.
The icing on the cake for the project was the proposed saving fund, which was christened NYS Sacco. From their daily earning of Sh450, every member was supposed to save Sh141.4.
Every week, a total of Sh707 was deducted from every members’s earning and sent to the savings fund. It was mandatory for all the members working in the programme to be members of the Sacco.
The main objective of the Sacco was to provide financial support to the members in future when the NYS program ended. So was the vision sold by the president.
The 3,000 youth working under NYS programme in Kibera were divided into 16 villages. Each village had its Sacco. Members elected their officials and made their contributions. They worked for close to 18 months between 2014 and 2017, but with intermittent disruptions over corruption claims hat led to the resignation of the then Devolution Secretary Ann Waiguru.
“After the NYS project came to an end, we started following up on the savings we had made with the Saccos during the projects. We needed the money to continue with projects (ablution blocks, posho mills and fish ponds) left unfinished when the NYS programme was halted. These were our ideas and we thought the savings would bring them to life and continue being a source of income to the members,” Jacob explained.
In Mukuru Kwa Njenga slums, the story was no different. Members of the Milimani Cohort Sacco wanted their money to complete the unfinished projects.
“When the NYS project stopped, that was in April 2017, we had Sh20 million as savings from Milimani Cohort Sacco. The sacco had (overall) officials and we handed over everything to the officials when the project came to an end,” said Cornelius Wesonga who was in charge of NYS project in Milimani Cohort Sacco.
“The members approached us for their savings but we cannot give them the money because they have defaulted to pay the first loan that all members took. Secondly we have sacco bylaws to follow,” said Stephen Onyango, the chairperson of Milimani Cohort Sacco
“We sat with the members and agreed on paying a monthly contribution of Sh500 when the NYS projects ended. Most members defaulted to pay the Sh500 we had agreed upon,” added Mr Onyango.
Approximately 90 per cent of the members were fully dependent on the NYS money and were unable to make monthly contribution once the project ended. Worse still, they can not access the savings they made during the months that the project was operational.
But according to Mr Onyango, all members were given loans, a position that most members do not agree with.
“As a member of Milimani Cohort Sacco, I was not given any loan by the sacco. The sacco gave some members Sh13,000 as a loan, but it did not give all the members,” insists Amani, a member of the Milimani Cohort Sacco.
With 3,000 youth working under the programme, the total contributions are approximated to have reached be Sh152 million for the period of 18 months that the youth worked within Kibera alone.
Nobody knows what happened to these monies? Will these youth ever get the chance to reap from their hard-earned savings?