MPESA to disburse free government cash to 360,000 drought-hit households




Safaricom has announced a partnership with the government to facilitate mobile money transfer to drought-stricken households in 23 Arid and Semi-Arid Land (ASAL) counties as a drought response intervention.

The collaboration with the State Department of Public Service, Gender, Senior Citizen Affairs and Special Programmes will see the first cohort of 360,696 beneficiaries receive Kshs 1,082,088,000 through M-PESA, where each household will get Kshs 3,000 on a monthly basis until the rain situation improves.

(TOP: From left: Kenya Red Cross, Deputy Secretary General – Programmes, Annette Msabeni; MPesa Africa MD and Safaricom’s Chief Financial Services Officer, Sitoyo Lopokoyit; engages with the CS, Ministry of Public Service, Gender and Senior Citizens Affair and Special Programmes, Prof Margaret Kobia during the launch of Emergency Cash Relief Transfer at Harambee House).

“Cash transfers have proven as the most effective way to reach vulnerable persons in times of emergency with accruing benefits including real-time receipt of assistance, value for money as the beneficiary has the choice of purchase, safeguards the dignity of beneficiaries as well as stimulates local economy. We are happy Safaricom has come on board to support this endeavour. The use of digital financial systems such as M-PESA will also ensure we continue supporting cashless transactions as a recommended measure in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic but will also enhance efficiency and accountability,” said Prof. Margaret Kobia, Cabinet Secretary for Public Service, Gender, Senior Citizens Affairs and Special Programmes.

Over 2.5 million people are currently experiencing food insecurity with the situation continuing to deteriorate following the below-average long rain season and further compounded by the damage caused by the desert locust invasions, especially in the northern pastoral areas.

“We are happy to partner and support the government’s nationwide efforts to provide immediate relief to the affected households in ASAL counties. Besides facilitating direct cash transfers through our M-PESA bulk payment service, we have waived transaction fees (transfer and withdrawal). This will enable the beneficiaries to receive the intended full amount of Kshs 3,000,” said Peter Ndegwa, CEO, Safaricom.

The government has moved to adopt cashless disbursement of benefits to vulnerable persons and other beneficiaries of its programmes due to high preference and availability of services such as M-PESA. M-PESA has more than 257,000 agents across the country meaning most of the population is never more than 2 kilometres from an agent. The service equally provides high transparency and accountability on the flow of funds to the recipient due to high mobile phone usage rates in the country.

“The current outlook from National Drought and Management Authority (NDMA) and the Kenya Meteorological Department indicate that the drought situation is expected to persist,” said Prof. Kobia.

In the recent past, development partners including UN’s World Food Programme, UNICEF, Oxfam Kenya, Red Cross, Concern Worldwide, Shikilia coalition among other NGOs, launched cash transfers through M-PESA to supplements Government humanitarian support to vulnerable communities in Kenya, including informal settlements in Nairobi.

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