"Cash Transfer" in Kenya: project analysis


Read out the complete analysis of the TSF "Cash Transfer" project in Kenya: Project analysis



Kenya: TSF sets up Cash Transfer activities in pastoral areas


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Drought remains a major threat in northern Kenya. In August 2011, the number of people facing an acute livelihood/food security crisis in the region was estimated at around 3.5 million in Kenya and this number increased during the next months. Due to long-term drought, pastoralists have migrated in search of water and pasture (both scarce), sometimes crossing international boundaries. Trekking for long distances has led to a significant deterioration in the condition of livestock, reducing their market value and income potential. Poor pastoralists have few livestock still alive.


On 15th October 2011, Télécoms Sans Frontières, in collaboration with Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Germany, launched the RAPID M-PESA pilot project, financed by GIZ, whose objective is to improve food security of vulnerable households in pastoral areas of Kenya, and reduce the effects of famine on their living conditions.


The M-PESA pilot project is part of Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Germany’s emergency response program in Kenya and more particularly of its “Response in Arid-lands for Pastoralists in Drought affected Kenya (RAPID) project”, funded by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).


The objective for VSF-Germany was to conduct Cash for Work activities and thanks to TSF’s expertise, to remunerate the beneficiaries of these activities – vulnerable pastoralists, through the M-PESA system.


The project has been implemented in four towns of the Marsabit South District, Marsabit County, Northern Kenya (Laisamis, Merille, Logologo and North Horr) and in Lokichoggio in the Turkana District (North-western Kenya).


This collaboration initiative ran over seven months ; the TSF-VSF program ended in June 2012.




Through the implementation of the M-PESA system with regular payments as part of Cash for Work activities, the project enabled the evaluation of the impact of M-PESA in pastoral areas and possibilities to widen its use for Cash for Work or cash transfer activities in all the regions where VSF-Germany operates. Regular payments via the M-PESA system enabled the reduction of the beneficiaries’ vulnerability to recurrent food crises in the country. 

M-PESA (M for mobile, pesa is Swahili for money)

is an agent-assisted, mobile phone-based, payment and money transfer system

with over 14 million users in Kenya as of April 2011.

In Kenya M-PESA is implemented by Safaricom.


It is a simple and practical solution, particularly in rural areas where banking facilities can be scarce and many people don’t have bank accounts. This system enables people to send money in electronic form, store money on a mobile phone in an electronic account, and deposit or withdraw money in the form of hard currency at any of the 30,000 nationwide M-PESA agent locations.


The possibility to use these kinds of payment for cash transfer programs in the future could reduce the logistical costs of such operations, and avoid a majority of the security concerns associated with them. Using mobile networks and technology for transferring money is more secure than carrying cash; and the money goes directly into the pockets of the beneficiary without the risk of relying on intermediaries.


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Assessment phase


In November 2011, TSF carried out different assessment missions in several districts, particularly in the Marsabit South district, in order to determine the feasibility of using the M-PESA system and the number of beneficiaries for the TSF-VSF G RAPID M-PESA pilot project.


In Laisamis city (total population of 4,978), TSF’s head of mission met with local authorities. Meetings also took place with the representatives of the main villages in the Marsabit South district.


Specific indicators were brought out: mobile network coverage, mobile phone availability/ownership among beneficiaries, M-PESA account hold-ers, M-PESA agents’ availability, estimates of their means for providing cash, level of literacy in the districts, and number of people having an ID card.


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Beneficiaries identification


The beneficiaries are pastoralists. VSF-G chose them according to vulnerability criteria such as: household where the head is a single mother, household with a herd of less than 20 heads of cattle, household where the head takes care of orphans. In each village, a support committee helped VSF-G to select the beneficiaries. This committee also helped TSF to choose the M-PESA beneficiaries, with at least one person with literacy and/or knowing how to use a mobile phone per village.


 Cash for work activities

Cash for Work activities include road repairing, plastic waste removal and water-related operations (water trucking, borehole repairs, fuel sub-sidy, road construction, etc.) especially in areas where pasture is abundant but animals cannot graze because of lack of water.
These activities, aiming at maintaining and increasing the growth rate of the herds improving the state of health of livestock, thereby increasing the profitability of livestock farming, facilitating trade in animals and animal products, and stabilising rising food prices and acute food insecurity at the household level, have been remunerated through the M-PESA system.
These actions increased the survival rate of the affected stock. Through these interventions, the distance and time taken by people and animals and pastoralists trekking to get water reduced, and the security risk decreased, as areas with pasture remaining are close to border areas.


As well as managing the equipment and logistics of the project, TSF also provided technical expertise:

- Special ICT training workshops organised and carried out by TSF to the advantage of the 1,050 beneficiaries to learn how to use the system to receive funds and make money transfers.
Most of the beneficiaries are not used to dealing with a cell phone, and for this reason, TSF trained 14 community assistants among the beneficiaries who are literate and already have some knowledge about cell phones. They were able to help the other beneficiaries in case of problems with the cell phones or if needed, to read a message.
Finally, if the inhabitants of big towns are familiar with M-PESA agents and systems, for villagers living in more isolated areas it is very often a discovery. The opening of an M-PESA account is compulsory for the beneficiaries of the project to receive the payments for Cash for Work activities. To assist them in the process of M-PESA registration, TSF recruited a local assistant with good knowledge of the M-PESA system.


- Creation by TSF of a User guide detailing how to use a cell phone, and the creation and use of an M-PESA account, to assist them during and after the training.

- Provision of cell phones and solar chargers.
Beneficiaries were separated into groups of 5 people. Each group received a cell phone and a solar charger provided by TSF. Moreover, each beneficiary who do not yet have a line received a personal SIM card. Beneficiaries were trained by TSF in how to use these devices.


- Payments of the beneficiaries.
Each beneficiary of the M-PESA project was paid after 10 days of work. To confirm the secure registration of each of the newly created M-PESA accounts, TSF used the FrontlineSMS application before carrying out the first payment.


- Follow-up of the payments.
TSF carried out the follow up of the payments to ensure the good progression of the project and make sure beneficiaries are able to withdraw the money in good time.


- Project analysis
TSF and VSF-G analyzed the results of the M-PESA pilot project so as to measure the impact and the appropriateness of this system and the possibilities to expand it further. Read the project analysis


The fruits of this experience have been shared with the other stakeholders in Kenya to transfer the lessons learnt on the use of the payment system for Cash for Work activities in pastoral areas. TSF notably made a presentation on March 20th, on the occasion of the monthly Kenya Cash Transfer Working Group (CaLP) meeting.


Through this project and the implementation of remunerated development activities linked to the environmental management, poor and vulnerable communities from Northern Kenya, victims of the long term effects of the drought, are directly involved in the mechanisms of their own development. Through the use of M-PESA system, TSF is reinforcing VSF-G’s programs in the field of new technologies to aid the affected populations.


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The partners


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About Véterinaires Sans Frontières

Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Germany (VSF-G) is an international non-governmental organization whose mission is to improve the welfare of vulnerable populations in developing countries, through improving animal health and production. VSF-G has 14 years of experience implementing developmental and humanitarian projects with pastoralists as well as responding to drought emergencies in the dry lands of Kenya, Southern Sudan, Somalia and, more recently, Uganda, Ethiopia and Tanzania.


About Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit

The services delivered by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH draw on a wealth of regional and technical expertise and tried and tested management know-how. As a federal enter-prise, GIZ supports the German Government in achieving its objectives in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development. GIZ operates in many fields: economic development and employment promotion; govern-ance and democracy; security, reconstruction, peacebuilding and civil conflict transformation; food security, health and basic education; and environmental protection, resource conservation and climate change mitigation.