Kenya Acted

Kenya: Making ends meet through a cash transfer program

After five consecutive failed rainy seasons Kenya experienced heavy rains that brought devastating floods between October and December 2023. Damage to agriculture, livestock, and disruption of infrastructure increased food insecurity in affected counties which, according to the latest Integrate Phase Classification analysis, was already estimated to affect 2.8 million people in the ASAL regions. Out of those facing high levels of Acute Food Insecurity 2.3 millions are classified in IPC Phase 3 - Crisis and nearly 500,000 are classified in IPC Phase 4 – Emergency.

The situation has forced households to adopt various coping mechanisms as a mitigation measure for the food shortages. Limiting portion size at mealtimes, reducing the number of meals eaten in a day, and purchasing food items on credit were the most common coping mechanisms reported.

Janet* is a 42-year-old mother of six and a hardworking resident of Gogoltim village in Samburu County. Samburu is an arid and semi-arid area whose pastoralist community primarily relies on cattle as the main source of livelihood. Samburu has the highest malnutrition rate amongst all the ASALs counties, with a population of 347,336 and a Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rate of 15.8%.


Despite the challenges of living in such an area, Janet has always been determined to provide her children with their basic needs. However, her life took a drastic turn when her husband passed away, leaving her as the sole breadwinner. The situation worsened few years later when her sister passed away, leaving Janet with the responsibility of taking care of her four children as well.


Janet had ten children to take care of, so she started a charcoal-burning business. However, this was a risky venture as it could lead to her hands burning, getting arrested, and being exploited in the market due to her limited understanding of charcoal’s market value. Despite facing many challenges, she continued with her business, as it was her only source of income. Nevertheless, that was not enough to make ends meet and her children experienced malnutrition and food deficiency related diseases.

The turning point in her life came when she was enlisted in the Multi Purpose Cash Program led by Acted, in partnership with PACIDA, under the wider BHA funded project: Enhanced Drought Emergency Response for Food and Nutrition Security (E-DERF).


Janet was selected through a vulnerability and community based  assessment that looks at factors such as female single headed households and malnutrition levels, amongst others. Through this program, she was able to feed her children, make some savings and start poultry farming. Now she can feed her children eggs and chicken while still selling the same commodities for profit to buy assorted food for her family.

Before the project, I made a living through burning and selling charcoal. It was tough work – it affected my health, and my hands became rough from the constant labour. However, everything changed with the monthly cash assistance I received from PACIDA. I decided not to continue burning charcoal and opted for a more sustainable and dignified livelihood. I used the money to buy food for my family, and saved a portion to pursue a poultry business.


Addressing malnutrition through sustainable livelihood

Janet is among the many residents in Samburu County who have benefited from the BHA-supported project. The project, led by Concern and implemented by Acted and PACIDA, aims to sustainably improve the food and nutritional security of 260,861 vulnerable pastoral and agro-pastoral individuals – men, women, girls, and boys – affected by the drought emergency in Marsabit, Turkana, and Samburu Counties through a multi-sectoral approach that enables individuals to meet their food security, nutrition, agriculture and WASH needs in the drought emergency. The project has a holistic approach as it looks at different interconnected sectors such as agriculture, food assistance, nutrition, and WASH to support vulnerable communities to get back on their feet and thrive on their own.

The majority of beneficiaries selected for the program also included pregnant and lactating mothers who were malnourished or had malnourished children. The program has empowered women to purchase diverse foods, ultimately improving their household nutrition status.

Community Health Assistant from Samburu County government

The Multi Purpose Cash program has so far reached 3,295 households in Nyiro, Ndoto, Nachola, Waso, and Wamba East in Samburu County. The program involved the collaboration of the Department of Health, NDMA, Local Administration, and the Department of Special Programs.

*The beneficiary’s name has been changed to protect their identity.