HSNP 's satellite based emergency scale up mechanism applauded by UK government



Use of ATM cards to access cashUse of ATM cards to access cashUK Secretary of State for Department for International Development, Penny Mordaunt, lauded HSNP's drought emergency scale up mechanism that is able to quickly delivery cash transfers to households reported to be in severe or extreme drought status. Vegetation Cover Index (VCI) are generated by the satelite to showcase the status of a given location. HSNP drought emergency cash transfer payments are triggered when a given sub-County is either under severe or extreme drought status.  See examples of previous VCI reports labelled  Early Warning Bulletin 

 Article by NewStatesMan

17 JANUARY 2018

There are some areas of public policy that sit firmly in that uncomfortable corner of the ‘popularity vs evidence’ matrix. That corner is the one where the ‘highest level of academic evidence of effectiveness’ and the ‘lowest level of public understanding and therefore support’ intersect. Direct cash transfers is the policy that is firmly in international development’s ‘naughty’ corner. 

We all know what Yes, Minister’s Sir Humphrey meant when he says: “that is a very brave decision, Minister.” Yet every new Secretary of State at the Department for International Development has an uncomfortable conversation early in their tenure with evidence-based officials who want to test the bravery of their new political master.

So why has Penny Mordaunt used her first interview with the Financial Times to announce an expansion of direct cash transfers?

Well partly, because wonks read the FT. Indeed, on one level, international development is extremely complex. On another, it’s relatively simple. Poor people have problems that they can’t solve themselves because - you guested it - they don’t have enough money. But just giving money away is easily portrayed as an undeserved hand out. That’s why some element of conditionality makes political sense, even if the evidence suggests that unconditional cash transfers are the most effective of all.

Getting a decent reception for this early policy move in the Telegraph has come partly as a consequence of focusing on refugees – where the need is more visible and less contestable – and party as a consequence of using the language of British ‘national interest’ in a series of articles in that same paper. The latest, describes Britain as a development superpower and when it comes to conditional cash transfer policy, it is indeed the space race that has helped us blaze the trail.

In northern Kenya, the Hunger Safety Net Programme provides a social safety net to people living in a semi-arid region near the equator, using direct cash transfers. And emergency payments are triggered by analysis of satellite imagery of the impact of the weather on crops and vegetation because those changes preemptively mirror changes in food prices. It’s conditional not on what people do but on how the environment in which they live changes, in real time. The system preempts droughts, it prevents famines and it has been running for over a decade now.

We are rightly proud of our welfare state but perhaps sometimes take it for granted. Yet this is a policy that helps other countries to help their own citizens, in their own way.

The programme is now only part funded by the UK taxpayer, in partnership with the Kenyan taxpayer, and Dfid is transitioning to finish its support entirely. This is sustainable development in action and it couldn’t have happened without Britain’s global leadership. Andrew Mitchell, the first Conservative Secretary of State at Dfid, was fond of saying that “these are not Labour achievements or Conservative achievements, but rather they are British achievements.” When it comes to Kenya’s Hunger Safety Net Programme, he certainly has a point.

Click HSNP drought emergency scale ups for more information

HSNP2 pays 0.54billion cash transfers to 100,554 households


HSNP2 cycle 27 per CountyHSNP2 cycle 27 per CountyOn 8th November 2017, HSNP2 delivered Kshs 0.54 billion (£ 3.99million) to 100,554 households (603,324people)across the four arid counties of Turkana, Mandera, Wajir and Marsabit as payment cycle 27. HSNP is an unconditional flagship cash transfer programme that delivers social assistance cash transfers to poorest and most vulnerable households with an aim of reducing extreme poverty and hunger. The cash transfers are delivered in two fold: 1) regular bimonthly to 101,800 Group 1 considered the poorest under the poverty ranking 2) drought emergency scale-up to additional households, Group 2. HSNP is funded by the Governments of Kenya and the United Kingdom (UKAID).

HSNP2 impact evaluation study conducted in 2016 revealed interesting findings on the use of HSNP cash transfers by the beneficiaries. Feedback from HSNP households disclosed that the bulk of the cash goes towards buying food for household consumption. Further, HSNP cash enables the households’ to increase the frequency and portions of meals per day as compared to non-HSNP households. On payday, many beneficiaries buy “bulk” quantities of stables that include: cooking oil, beans, rice, spices, tealeaves, maize and maize floor and this is reflected by the vibrancy of local markets. HSNP cash transfers also assist the households to improve on dietary diversity, as they are able to buy “luxury” items like meat and vegetables in small quantities. Further, the households are able to buy milk for a longer period for daily consumption thus meeting the nutritional requirements of vulnerable households members like children and the elderly.HSNP cycle 27 across the sub-CountiesHSNP cycle 27 across the sub-Counties

HSNP cash is also used to re-pay credit and has increased the “credit-worthiness” of the beneficiaries as it enhances the ability to borrow from friends, neighbors and local traders. Ability to access credit is important for consumption smoothing effects. Households can access food and other households’ essentials on credit as they wait for the next payment. Beneficiaries also use a portion of HSNP cash to pay school fees and meet educational costs (uniforms, shoes, books, school supplies, exam fees) thus improving access to education for children from poorest household and especially orphans and children of widows. Additionally, feedback from respondents that include teachers reveal that children from HSNP households recorded high school attendance, as they were less likely to engage in child labour. HSNP cash reduces the pressure of households to engage their children in income generating.

There are beneficiaries that share that they use HSNP cash for home improvement such as improvement of house structure e.g. roofing with corrugated metal sheets, cement for flooring and constructing additional rooms. Others purchase of household items such as utensils, stools and beddings. There are a few beneficiaries that are able to save a portion of their cash over a period of time to buy small livestock mostly sheep and goats. The ability to buy and maintain assets in form of livestock remains an important issue across the four counties where forms of pastoralism are the main source of livelihood.

A quick analysis on the use of HSNP cash transfers by the beneficiaries indicate that the programme is supporting the realisation of socio-economic empowerment of the poorest and vulnerable people as specified under the social pillar of Vision 2030. One of the flagship projects under the social pillar is the establishment of a consolidated social protection fund implemented through the National Safety Net Programme (NSNP) that has four National cash transfer programmes including HSNP. The aim of NSNP is boost economic empowerment of vulnerable groups through social assistance cash transfers.

Compiled by

Carrie Ndoka- Communications Specialist (HSNP2)

HSNP2 pays cycle 26 to 98,896 poorest households


HSNP2 Cycle 26HSNP2 Cycle 26On 15 September 2017, HSNP2 paid Kshs. 560,940,300 to 98,896 households across the four poorest and arid Counties of Turkana, Wajir, Mandera and Marsabit. This disbursement  was made to the Group 1 households- those who receive unconditional bi-monthly cash transfers. 98,896 households constitute those that meet the threshold of being the poorest in terms of poverty ranking. 

HSNP2 regular cash tranfers has proven to be an effective social protection (social assistance) measure for addressing cases of chronic poverty at the household level. HSNP2 impact evaluation studies have proven that cash tranfers have a significant positive impact on local economy (boosting of livelihoods, markets) , social norms (women empowernment), poverty and well-being (reduced stress, boosted confident and worthiness) to mention but a few. In addition, the bulk of the cash is used to meet the basic needs of the household members e.g. able to have larger and more frequent portion of food, buy uniform and other essentials required to access education, pay for medical services and medicine. 

The impact on local economy has been manifested by the increased number and frequency of small scale trading not only in urban setting but also in the rural remote areas. Women who consitute 60% of primary recipients of HSNP2 cash tranfers have greatly benefitted in multiple ways including financial inclusion. As a result of HSNP programme, and in specific, the mode of payment delivery through active bank accounts that require valid National IDs (according to the Central Bank's regulation of Know Your Customer), initially,a significant number of target beneficiaries and in specific women in rural remote areas did not have IDs. Thus, HSNP has made the community especially the poorest households have a need for National IDs at the same time enabled them realise their wider rights through the acquisition and use of National IDs  beyond cash transfers. In addition, some of the women have started table "kiosks" to sell household essentials like sugar, grains and grocers to boost their livelihoods.

HSNP2 Cycle 26 per sub-CountyHSNP2 Cycle 26 per sub-County

HSNP2 pays 82,828HHs drought emergency cash transfers for May 2017 scale up


May 2017 Scale up CountyMay 2017 Scale up CountyOn 23 June 2017, HSNP2 paid Kshs. 223,635,600 drought emergency cash transfers to additional 82,828 Group 2 households across the four arid counties of Turkana, Mandera, Wajir and Marsabit. Each household received Kshs. 2,700 equivalent to one month's entitlement. Thus, in the ongoing drought status, HSNP2 has scaled up six times since 2017. Scaling up during extremities of drought and flooding is one of HSNP2 core objectives. Total amount paid between November 2016 and June 2017 is Kshs. 0.977 billion (£7,521,597) to approx. 150,000 Group 2 households which is approx. 1million people in the four Counties. Emergency payments are funded by the Governments of Kenya, United Kingdom (UKAID) and European Union.

May 2017 scale up is triggered by the satellite generated Vegetation Coverage Index (VCI) VCIMay2017VCIMay2017report of end of April 2017. This report showcased that rainfall received in April across many parts of the ASALs has provided some reprieve, replenishing water sources and regenerating pasture and browse to some degree. Distances to water were reducing but are still well above normal. Livestock body condition and milk production were starting to improve, particularly among browsers, although the effect of the season on livestock productivity would be more apparent in the followingmonth. However, it warned that any positive impacts were likely to be modest and short-lived, since the expected short rains had generally been below normal and poorly distributed and therefore unlikely to sustain recovery throughout the coming dry period. Moreover, some areas have received very little rainfall and even none, like Mandera, Wajir, Marsabit and Turkana.

Read NDMA Bulletin Report April 2017

According to the external HSNP2 impact qualitative report released in June 2017 by Oxford Policy Management, HSNP households that receive emergency cash transfers in the event of severe drought report positive effects on meeting short-term basic needs such as retaining children in school, maintaining food consumption, and spending on healthcare.






HSNP2 Evaluation Qualitative Impact Report Released


Fred Mertten of OPM handing the report to Susan Mochache- PS, Social ProtectionFred Mertten of OPM handing the report to Susan Mochache- PS, Social ProtectionThe independent Impact Evaluation of the HSNP2 released on 5th June 2017 by Oxford Policy Management(OPM), shows that HSNP cash transfers are positively impacting livelihoods as they are largely spent on food and basic needs such as clothes, school fees and paying off credit debt. The report was released in the presence of the Susan Mochache- Principal Secretary of Social Protection, Ministry of East African Community, Labour and Social Protection and Josepheta Mukobe- Principal Secretary, Special Programme, Ministry of Devolution and Planning. Also present were Senior officials from NDMA, DFID, donors, development partners and the media.

“The difference from HSNP is a lot.  You can open an account. You pay your children’s school fees. You get hope.” (Female community leader, Wajir)

The qualitative Impact Evaluation uncovered the fact that recipients consider HSNP one of their main sources of income because the programme supports income-generating activities, such as livestock production, casual labour and petty trade.  Some beneficiaries also report using HSNP money to start small businesses or boost existing ones.  The evaluation demonstrates that HSNP has had a positive impact on local businesses, especially those near pay points. Traders and shopkeepers benefiting from the initiative say that they have increased sales and larger profits due to the increase in customer traffic around pay days.

The evaluation also identified that some households use the money to prepare for future needs, for example by saving or investing in livestock, or sharing with others who may help them in times of need.  According to one beneficiary from Mandera:

“I am extremely grateful for this programme because it puts some hard cash in my pocket, making it possible for me to feed and care for my family,” he says. “The money is very valuable particularly now that we are facing one of the worst droughts our community has every experienced.”

Aside from improving livelihoods in general, the evaluation showed that the intervention by HSNP has improved beneficiaries’ psychological wellbeing.  By reducing stress and easing some of the negative effects of poverty, the cash transfers have buoyed the target group’s spirits and improved their sense of dignity and self-worth.  HSNP strengthens the social support networks that exist in communities and is felt to have created more peace and unity within the households.

“Everyone is happy about this programme because even if you are not a beneficiary your neighbour assists you.” (Female HSNP beneficiary, Mandera)

This Impact Evaluation was undertaken by OPM as part of an independent analysis of the Hunger Safety Net Programme and is based on the first round of the qualitative research collected between August and September 2015. The research provides information about the context in which the programme is operating as well as an assessment of the impact of both routine and emergency HSNP payments. It draws on the perceptions of beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries, as well as key informants in the four programme counties (Mandera, Marsabit, Turkana and Wajir) to describe how beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries perceive the impact of HSNP on different aspects of their lives.  

Download HSNP2 Qualitative Report reporthttp://bit.ly/2to016S
Read more about HSNP2 Evaluation: http://bit.ly/2dm7Gev  

Media Coverage of the event: 

Standard Newspaper: http://bit.ly/2slCGD2 

People Daily: http://bit.ly/2sKnkW0 


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