Some of the projects in Kibera such as fish ponds that failed after the NYS scandal
The cooperative societies supposed to help sustain volunteers in the National Youth Service (NYS) projects remain a mystery.
About a year since the programme collapsed, beneficiaries are yet to receive a cent of their savings. Bernard Kamau,* one of the project participants from Kirinyaga County, says after each member signed the contract, they were told they would receive individual copies after a few days.
“We signed a contract which indicated we would be paid Sh471 each day but would only receive Sh330. At the time, we did not read the papers, we just signed and they took them,” said Kamau. The balance of Sh141 was to go into their savings account.
Moses Oloo * from Kibera has been waiting for his Sh32,000 savings since the NYS slum upgrade project closed shop. He had been making timely contributions until completion of the first and second phase of the project. After it was wound up, Oloo could not continue making payments and wanted to cash his savings.
To date, he has not got a loan through the savings he made when the projects were ongoing. “I have also not received money for some of the weeks that I went unpaid,” he added.
The 28-year-old member of Kisumu Ndogo said he later discovered that his ID had been used to register 10 people. “That is why at times I never received my weekly salary because my ID had been used to pay other people,” said Oloo.
NYS officials promised the youth that the savings would be paid to them after the three months they were contracted to work. In what was touted as a sustainable model that would enable the youth to have earn money to empower themselves, the NYS officials said the deductions would only be paid back though a Sacco at the end of the period.
However, after the first contract period ended, the money was not channelled to the Saccos. Instead, the beneficiaries were offered contract extensions, which would mean even more capital for their cooperatives.
In May 2016, they were called to sign another contract which would run for another three months beginning June. “NYS owes us between Sh9,000 and Sh15,000 for each phase. We already completed Phase Two but the odds are not in our favour,” said Kamau.
When he, and many like him, enquired about the savings they were told that the money would only be released after they had signed the contract for the second phase. Two months after signing the second contract and beginning the work, they were told they would have to pay an additional Sh300.
TO BE EXTENDED
“I was asked to pay Sh300 to get a card which I would use to withdraw the money,” said Kamau. After speaking to one of the leaders, who the youth referred to as platoon, in Kirinyaga County, John Kones, he said that orders to pay the Sh300 came from Nairobi headquarters.
Weak controls leave many Saccos bleeding
Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki did not respond to our questions. However, in February this year, Ms Kariuki said the National Youth Service’s Youth Empowerment Programme will be extended to 70 other constituencies from the current 102.
Then, Kariuki assured the youth groups under the programme that they will soon access their savings worth Sh100 million. She said under the NYS Sacco programme 92,135 youth have mobilised savings worth Sh1.5 billion in 102 constituencies across the country.
“Out the savings Sh 1.4 million has been transferred to 286 Saccos. 305 Saccos have been fully registered while 44 others are awaiting registration in the new constituencies,” she said then.