Kenya Launches Emergency Cash Transfer Program to Aid Drought Victims

Over 2.5 million people are currently experiencing food insecurity with the situation continuing to deteriorate following the below-average long rain season and further compounded by the damage caused by the desert locust invasions, especially in the northern pastoral areas.

From left: Kenya Red Cross, Deputy Secretary General-Programmes, Annette Msabeni, MD Mpesa Africa & Chief Financial Services Officer, Sitoyo Lopokoyit engage with Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Public Service, Gender and Senior Citizens Affair and Special Programmes. Margaret Kobia during the launch of Emergency Relief Cash Transfer at Harambee House.

Kenya has launched an emergency relief cash transfer program through M-Pesa, a mobile money transfer platform, to cushion and improve the livelihoods of drought victims in 23 Arid and Semi-Arid Land (ASAL) counties.

The Ministry of Public Service, Gender, Senior Citizens Affairs and Special Programmes says the first cohort of 360,696 households will each receive Ksh 3,000 totalling 9.5 million dollars on a monthly basis.

“The shift from food distribution to cash transfer will enhance the efficiency of the humanitarian efforts,” Prof. Margaret Kobia, Cabinet Secretary for Public Service, Gender, Senior Citizens Affairs and Special Programmes. 

“The use of digital financial systems such as M-PESA will also ensure we continue supporting cashless transactions as a recommended measure in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic but will also enhance efficiency and accountability.”

According to the ministry, over 2.5 million Kenyans from the 23 arid and semi-arid land counties are affected by drought.

Similarly, the state-owned National Drought and Management Authority (NDMA) and the Kenya Meteorological Department, the country’s drought situation is expected to persist for at least the next few months.

“Besides facilitating direct cash transfers through our M-PESA bulk payment service, we have waived transaction fees (transfer and withdrawal). This will enable the beneficiaries to receive the intended full amount of Ksh3,000,” said Peter Ndegwa, CEO – Safaricom.