BBC report highlights importance of HSNP in Kenya

HSNP payment token
A HSNP payment token. Photo: Hunger Safety Net

BBC World News have produced a report on how important the UKaid funded Hunger Safety Net Project (HSNP) is as a drought intervention measure to the most vulnerable households in Northern Kenya.

While cash transfers have been the subject of controversy in the UK, the government’s Department for International Development (DfID) funds them in Kenya to help combat the problems caused by drought in the arid north and north-east regions of the country.

Despite suggestions in the UK that recipients could waste it or abuse the system. However, according to the Overseas Development Institute, there is no evidence that recipients of cash transfers are using the money on goods such as alcohol or tobacco.

The HSNP provides regular payments to more than half a million Kenyans, with 66% of the money provided by the DfID last year, and the rest by the Kenyan government.

Kenya’s National Drought Management Authority also makes payments to hundreds of thousands more people when drought starts to bite, with money provided by UK taxpayers.

The report, which you can watch above, features the story of Abdullahi Haji Abdi who used to have 100 head of cattle, but since the last big drought he is left trying to hold on to the few he has left.

During difficult periods, his animals had to be sold to pay the bills, often when the price is at its lowest. This leads to a never-ending cycle into poverty, but cash transfers have proved to be quite literally a life saver.

“If it wasn’t for these cash payments I’d have to sell the livestock to pay for school fees, food for the family and the basic things.” – Abdullahi Haji Abdi

When the credit is remotely added to his plastic card he pops it into one of those machines that normally takes debit card payments, and the teller checks his identity by scanning his fingerprint.

She then hands over the $25 or so he receives each month from a black plastic bag full of cash.

You can read more about the Hunger Safety Net Project on their website.