about the author
Public Information Officer in Kenya
Rose joined WFP in 2009 and is currently Public Information Officer for Kenya.
Through an innovative cash transfer scheme, WFP is using mobile phones to transfer money in a fast and timely way to those needing assistance in Kenya.
Tisiana Narumbe is looking forward to this Christmas because she can afford to treat her family to meat, chapatis and rice...thanks to the cash she has received from WFP through her mobile phone.
Tisiana (42) is among more than 7,000 people in Isiolo who are benefiting from cash transfers via mobile phones as part of an innovative scheme being piloted by WFP.
Previously, these pastoralists who lost their livestock to drought and cattle rustling would have received assistance by way of food distributions. But, because they live near well-stocked markets, they are in a position to do their own shopping. Cash transfers work well for these people – and they are also good for the local economy. That is why in Isiolo WFP has partnered with Orange Money, a mobile phone cash transfer service run by the Orange mobile phone company.
Food for her family
“Unlike a food distribution where we receive all our food for the month in one go, I don’t have to withdraw all the money at once," says Tisiana. "I can withdraw what I need and leave the rest on my mobile phone to withdraw later.”
With a colourful cloth draped round her shoulders, this mother of four received her first payment from an Orange money agent and headed off to the market to buy food for her family.
“WFP did a market survey to establish the viability of using cash transfers and found that, in the pilot areas, there was food availability in the market, it was easily accessible and the prices were competitive,” says Nicholas Mugo, WFP’s Field Monitor in Isiolo.
Although Tisiana has a mobile phone, there are some in her community who do not own one. To ensure that they too can withdraw their cash, WFP is providing them with cheap mobile phones.
Similar pilot schemes
“WFP is providing one phone to be shared among every five households and the communities nominate community assistants who have experience using the phones to be their custodians and also to help those who are not familiar with using them,” says Mugo.
WFP is planning to undertake similar cash transfer pilot schemes in the Turkana and Wajir parts of Kenya where it will partner with Safaricom’s Mpesa, Kenya’s leading mobile phone money transfer service.