Kenya Article

Saretha’s Story: “The Cash Transfer Helped Us Meet Our Family’s Food needs in a Desperate Moment”

Saretha is a beneficiary of the Kenya Cash Consortium’s intervention in Mandera County, which supports the most vulnerable families affected by the recent locust invasion in accessing food and regaining their livelihoods. ACTED provided unconditional cash transfers for a value of 4,711 Kenyan Shillings (EUR 34.6) for a period of six months to 1,134 beneficiaries, with financial support from the European Commission’s Directorate General for Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), and with its partner RACIDA.

“We were surviving on one meal a day”, said Saretha, a 35-year-old single mother of five boys and two girls living in Mandera county. As a farmer, Saretha used to raise her livestock and sell their milk on the local market to make a living and meet her family’s needs. In Mandera, like in many other counties of northern Kenya, most of the population relies on agro-pastoral activities.

After the region was invaded by locusts, which destroyed all culture and pasture, her animals had no more food to graze. Their health worsened and they were soon unable to produce milk, thus impacting the family’s livelihood. Saretha found herself destitute, with no alternative source of income to buy food for her children and fodder to feed her animals.

Pastoral communities sacrificed on the altar of climatic hazards

Before the locust invasion, pastoral communities like Saretha’s were already struggling with poverty, after enduring repeated cycles of natural and climatic hazards like droughts and floods. These extreme weather events lead to food and nutritional insecurity, and increasing cases of hunger. They have long term impacts on the availability of crucial natural resources such as water and grazing land. The Covid-19 pandemic only added a further strain to their already extremely difficult situation.

Through ACTED’s unconditional cash transfer intervention, Saretha could venture into alternative livelihood activities and opened a food kiosk. “I used the 4,711 Kenyan Shillings I received to provide for my family and stock food for my kiosk” said Saretha. “This new activity made our life so much easier. With the money I make from the sales, I am able to meet my family’s needs, repay our debts and buy more stocks for my kiosk.”

With the Covid-19 pandemic, the demand for food goods has increased. Saretha’s business proved particularly useful for the local population, and she now has a more stable living conditions, despite the difficulties.

The Kenya Cash Consortium is led by ACTED in partnership with Concern Worldwide, Oxfam, IMPACT Initiatives and the ASAL Humanitarian Network, with funds from the European Commission’s Directorate General for Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).