WFP Tests Cash As An Alternative To Food
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Published on 25 February 2011

A beneficiary buys food at the local market after recieving cash

WFP/Rose Ogola

WFP is piloting a Seasonal Cash for Assets project to allow WFP to test whether cash is a more appropriate response than food at harvest seasons in marginal agricultural areas.

When Mwende Mwangangi’s farmer husband died three years ago leaving her with three young children, and not much of a way to support them, she felt desperate. But she then discovered the Lumumbu soil, water and environmental conservation group, which taught her how to conserve rainwater and prevent erosion through terracing. Now she can harvest even when the rains are poor.

Through a food for assets programme, Mwende and others like her work with WFP on projects focusing on rainwater harvesting for human and livestock use, soil and water conservation, rehabilitation of degraded land and producing drought-tolerant crops. These assets and the development of appropriate skills enable communities such as Mwende’s to improve their resilience and increase food sufficiency.

Beneficiaries receive food – cereals, pulses, vegetable oil and salt – under FFA projects. And now WFP is piloting a Seasonal Cash for Assets project to allow WFP to test whether cash is a more appropriate response than food at harvest seasons in marginal agricultural areas. The pilot is being implemented in three divisions in Mwingi District in southeastern Kenya – Kyuso, Tseikulu and Ngomeni.

“When cash transfers were introduced last year, people were excited because this is the first time they received cash instead of food and they could choose which food to buy with it,” says Michael Murithi, a technical officer with Action Aid, WFP’s partner in the food/cash for assets project. He adds that cash for assets is a good alternative to food for assets during seasons when food is highly available in markets.

Beneficiaries get their cash through Equity Bank.  To save them from having to travel 65 kilometres to the nearest main branch, Equity Bank has appointed bank agents in various market centres in the pilot areas. As a result, people who are not WFP beneficiaries can also access banking services through the bank agents.

“My children are young and need variety in food. With the cash I receive I am able buy vegetables, rice and even milk for them,” says Mwende.

WFP Offices
About the author

Rose Ogola

Public Information Officer in Kenya

Rose joined WFP in 2009 and is currently Public Information Officer for Kenya.