Poor people aged above 70 years will at the end of next month start receiving a monthly stipend of Sh2,000 from the government and free medical cover to ease their suffering.
Under the plan labelled Inua Jamii, the more than 700,000 elderly will receive a bi-monthly stipend of Sh4,000 and also get a National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) cover.
The Treasury allocated Sh6.7 billion to kick off the scheme in January for the half year to June, implying the social security plan will set back taxpayers Sh13.4 billion annually. This is an enhancement given that the previous cash transfer initiated in 2012 targeted individuals above 65 years living in extreme poverty.
Better health care has seen life expectancy in the country rise even as the elderly lack pension plans. It gets worse if they live in urban areas where inflation is unforgiving in a period when the social setup of relying on relatives is collapsing.
Kenya has undergone unprecedented urban growth, which has led to increased demand for land, further exacerbated by a growing middle class.
At the time of independence, in 1964, about 8.5 percent of Kenyans lived in urban areas, according to United Nations data. This figure rose to 16.7 per cent by 1990 and by 2015, one in four Kenyans lived in urban areas.
The UN projects that by 2030 almost a third of Kenyans will live in urban areas, rising to 43.9 per cent by 2050.
Kenyans are also living longer. A World Health Organisation (WHO) report of 2015 estimates life expectancy in Kenya at 63 years.
NHIF monthly charges for the self-employed is Sh500, meaning the government will need Sh373.5 million per month.
Last year, the NHIF introduced a new package catering for members with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, kidney failure and cancer.