An audit report has revealed some irregular payments in the State Department of Gender that include sh104 million for the National free sanitary towels for public schools.
According to the 2019/20 report by Auditor General Nancy Gathungu, there was no documentation provided to support payments for pending bills brought forward from the previous fiscal period.
The gender department, which falls under the Ministry of Public Service, Gender, Senior Citizens Affairs & Special Programmes, is responsible for the running runs the National free sanitary towels programme that supports more than 3.5 million learners in public primary, special, and secondary schools.
Treasury allocated Sh. 470million for the purchase of the Sanitary Towels in the 2020/21 financial year, amidst growing criticism that the pads have not been reaching the girls.
The distribution of free sanitary towels in schools has been shrouded by controversy and graft with reports of illegal tenders as revealed in previous reports by the General Auditor.
Before the National free sanitary towels programme was moved from the Ministry of Education to the Gender docket in the 2017/18 finacial year, former Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang was linked in the illegal tender scandal in the sanitray pads distribution after a firm linked to him was awarded a tender despite being the highest bidder.
The report by the Auditor General also flagged irregular procurements by the State department worth Sh12.9 million during the 12th Commonwealth Women Affairs Ministers Meeting (WAMM) held in Nairobi from September 16 to 20, that include the procuring of conference facilities at Sh7.5 million using the request for quotations method, contrary to Section 106 of the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, 2015, and the Public Procurement and Disposal Regulations, 2013, that provide a threshold of Sh2 million for the use of the method.
The department is also on the spot for unsupported expenditure of Sh3.4 million for printing, advertising and information supplies and services; communication supplies and services; and domestic travel and subsistence.
Period poverty continues to be a major challenge affecting women and girls in Kenya and numerous reports have attributed it as a major cause of the ballooning cases of teenage pregnancies in poor households.
It’s a shame that money meant to alleviate this plight continues to be looted while our girls wallow in period shame.