Cash transfer programme cushions Marsabit residents

Cash transfer programme cushions Marsabit residents
Photo: Cash transfer programme cushions Marsabit residents

A robust cash transfer programme has cushioned thousands of people from devastating drought in Marsabit county amid huge depletion of livestock.

Pastoralists in the drought-ravaged county, one of the worst-hit in the country, have lost 50 per cent of their livestock and risk losing up to 90 per cent of their animals if the situation persists.

However, money channelled to residents through the Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP) has neutralised the devastating effects of the scourge and enabled residents to get food.

A spot check by People Daily has revealed that pastoralists have halted panic sale of their cattle at throw-away prices, common during drought. But experts warned this has caused stress to limited forage in the area and could be blamed for massive deaths of livestock witnessed in the county.

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Between November and January, HSNP shelled out over Sh2.2 billion to 55,701 regular (20,406) and emergency (35,295) beneficiaries of the programme in Marsabit.

The Kenya government and the United Kingdom are the funders. Payments to the beneficiaries are wired electronically to recipients’ bank accounts and are accessed using biometrics and a PIN through a network of Equity Bank agents.

Regular and emergency beneficiaries receive Sh5,400 bimonthly and Sh2,700 monthly, respectively. Some beneficiaries have now opened small businesses—selling basic goods such as oil, rice and paraffin while others have bought beads and are selling traditional jewellery.

Damakere Lekapina (pictured), a widowed beneficiary who sells food, said her fortunes have changed significantly since being enrolled in the cash transfer programme.

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“This drought would have meant death to some people if it wasn’t for the programme…now we can buy food and we hope the programme will be scaled up further,” she said.

HSNP is a flagship programme of the government and is managed by the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) as part of the wider National Safety Net Programme (NSNP).

It works in the four poorest water-starved counties—Turkana, Mandera, Marsabit and Wajir—an area equal to 91 per cent of the United Kingdom, with 60 per cent of the recipients being women.

Total emergency payments during the current drought in the aforementioned counties between December 2016 and January 2017 is Sh357.5 million to cater for additional 9,836 households. Report continues tomorrow

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