UK funded project provides safety net for Marsabit residents in Kenya

Hunger Safety New Programme
The UK funded HSNP reaches up to 600,000 people across Turkana, Marsabit, Wajir & Mandera. Photo: Twitter/UKinKenya

The UK funded Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP) has helped protect thousands of residents in Marsabit county from the devastating effects of the drought and the depletion of their livestock.

Money channelled through the robust cash transfer programme have helped neutralise the devastating effects of the drought which has seen pastoralists lose 50 per cent of their animals. If the situation persists, they risk losing as many as 90 per cent of their livestock.

Research by People Daily found that pastoralists had halted panic sale of their cattle at throw-away prices, which is common practise during drought. However, experts have warned that limited forage in the area, caused by the drought, has caused numerous livestock deaths in the area.

Between November and January, HSNP has provided over Ksh2.2 billion to 20,406 regular and 35,295 emergency beneficiaries of the programme in Marsabit making a total of 55,701 helped by the programme.

Through funding from the Kenya government and the United Kingdom, 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 beneficiaries receive Ksh 5,400 bimonthly and emergency beneficiaries receive Ksh2,700 monthly. The money has enabled some beneficiaries to open small businesses, selling basic goods such as oil, rice and paraffin. Others have offset the loss of traditional sources of income through purchasing beads which they use to make and sell traditional jewellery.

Last year, DFID Minister James Wharton met with people benefiting from the Hunger Safety Net Programme and Arid Support Programme (HSNP). He discussed the progress and the impact of the programmes, which at that time had already helped 1.5 million people.

Hunger Safety Net Programme

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

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

Total emergency payments during the current drought in the four counties between December 2016 and January 2017 totalled Ksh357.5 million to provide for an additional 9,836 households.