During Penny Mordaunt’s first official visit to Kenya as International Development Secretary, she saw how UK aid was first on the scene when the region suffered a devastating drought last year, while also discovering the potential for technology and innovation to deliver aid in new ways.
The visit was her first overseas following the setting out of her five pledges for the future of UK aid – which included a commitment to helping developing countries to stand on their own two feet.
During her time in Kenya, she visited the offices of M-KOPA Solar to discuss how the initiative is making a difference and see how digital innovation can tackle poverty, provide clean energy and empower.
M-KOPA, which lists the DFID and Sir Richard Branson among its investors, has connected more than 330,000 homes in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to solar power. Each 8W battery powered-system they supply comes with three lights, mobile phone-charging and a solar powered radio. They now also have an option for a 20W system with digital TV.
She also met British businesses, including clothes manufacturer Hela, who are creating jobs in Nairobi, boosting the Kenyan economy.
Over the weekend, she visited Marsabit to find out more about the World Food Programme and see how UKaid funds are making a difference to mothers and children fighting malnutrition due to the ongoing drought.
A piece on The Guardian website described how the DFID-backed Hunger Safety Net Programme uses satellite technology to identify communities most at risk of drought, and the role of biometrics in cash transfer schemes that protect against fraud.
In an interview with the newspaper, Ms. Mordaunt outlined how UK aid is supporting the Government of Kenya to own, manage and fund the programme themselves.
In Northern Kenya Ms. Mordaunt met Nangason who explained how she used cash transfer payments to start her own jewellery business and can now afford her children’s school fees and food for the family.
Nangason lost all her livestock due to drought but has started up a jewellery business thanks to innovative cash payments from #UKaid which also pay for school fees and food for her family. #AidWorks pic.twitter.com/4oLxMTNkpq
— DFID (@DFID_UK) January 22, 2018
The International Development Secretary used the trip to announce a £19.8 million extension to the programme, to reach 600,000 people like Nangason and launched the second phase of Trade Mark East Africa, the landmark UK aid programme that helps enterprise and creates jobs by breaking down barriers to trade.