Mobile cash reduces hunger, boosts Kenya economy

Mobile money expo set for LagosFrom MARIA MACHARIA in Nairobi, Kenya
NAIROBI, (TechnoAfrica) – ABOUT 250 000 people have been saved from severe food insecurity in drought-ravaged Kenya thanks to an innovative, mobile phone-driven cash programme.
Through the scheme, the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) has given monthly grants of KSh3 000 (more US$28) to more than 41 000 drought-affected families spread across 13 counties over the past three months.
The money is transferred using the M-Pesa mobile phone-based money transfer service.
“This programme is transforming the way we respond to emergencies in Kenya,” said Dr Abbas Gullet, Secretary General, KRCS.
He said even in remote parts, 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,” said Gullet.
The Kenya 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 all, the KRCS 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 asset losses.
The crisis in Kenya is largely driven by prolonged drought, but is also influenced by underlying poverty and poor preparedness for these kinds of predictable and cyclical emergencies.
A recent 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.
“The results speak for themselves, and we hope that this programme can be expanded in Kenya and replicated in other countries battling chronic hunger in Africa,” said Dr Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ Regional Director for Africa.

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