By Njoroge Kaburo NAIROBI (Xinhua)
-- The International
Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
said Monday that mobile phone-driven cash has helped it
prevent nearly 250,000 people from slipping into severe
food insecurity in drought-ravaged Kenya.
the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) has given monthly
grants of 30 U.S. dollars to more than 41,000
drought-affected families spread across 13 counties over
the past three months using the M-Pesa mobile
phone-based money transfer service.
speak for themselves, and we hope that this program can
be expanded in Kenya and replicated in other countries
battling chronic hunger in Africa,” said IFRC Regional
Director for Africa Fatoumata Nafo-Traore.
for the people in need of help. It’s cheaper and more
efficient for aid agencies to implement. And it puts
money back into local economies—into the hands of
shopkeepers and traders that are key to ensuring the
recovery of communities,” he said.
Food Security Steering Group’s Mid-Season Long Rains
Assessment estimates that 3.5 million people are in need
of emergency food relief in Kenya.
in Kenya is largely driven by prolonged drought, but is
also believed to be influenced by underlying poverty and
poor preparedness for emergencies.
IFRC, an evaluation of the KRCS drought program has
found that families receiving mobile cash are eating
more often, and from a more diverse menu.
More than 60
percent of families involved in the program report they
can now afford three or more meals per day compared to
20 percent before the cash transfer initiative began.
Secretary General Abbas Gullet said the money transfer
program is transforming the way the charity is
responding to emergencies in Kenya.
very remote parts of the country, mobile phones are
widely accessible. It makes it very easy for people to
access money and, more importantly, it gives them choice
and flexibility in how they spend their money,” Gullet
them maintain a sense of dignity, which is not always
the case in humanitarian operations,” he added. In
addition to food, families have used the cash to cover
essentials like healthcare and education.
is targeting more than 1 million people across the
country with a range of services, including support to
malnourished children, traditional food distribution,
rehabilitation of communal water points and animal
offtake and slaughter to cushion farmers from massive
study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found
out that mobile-money services “have helped raise
194,000 Kenyan households out of extreme poverty, and
induced 185,000 women to work in business or retail
occupations over farming.”