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WFP and Kenya government launch cash transfers for families impacted by coronavirus in Mombasa

MOMBASA – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in partnership with national and local government today launched cash transfers for 24,000 families whose livelihoods were destroyed by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on informal urban settlements in the city of Mombasa.

Travel restrictions and partial lockdowns to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Kenya dealt a devastating blow to the economy, particularly affecting families on the coast who depended on informal daily employment to earn money directly or indirectly from the tourism industry.

Mombasa County accounts for 12 percent of the number of COVID-19 cases in Kenya - the second highest number after Nairobi. Tourism was the leading source of income in the county before the pandemic. As a result of rising infections, most of the tourism sector was forced to cut its workforce and many businesses either closed entirely or are struggling to stay afloat.

On 1 September, the Kenyan National Bureau of Statistics estimated that as many as 1.7 million Kenyans had lost jobs across the country. The unemployment rate doubled to 10.4 percent compared to 5.2 percent in March when the first cases of COVID-19 were reported.

With a contribution from USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, WFP has launched life-saving cash-based support in Mombasa for 24,000 families - or 96,000 people - who had lost their sources of livelihoods or have had their incomes slashed because of the pandemic.

“COVID-19 has caused untold suffering especially to families living in the poor urban areas who normally rely on informal day-to-day employment. Many families in the coastal region are struggling just to feed themselves,” says Lauren Landis, WFP’s Kenya Country Director.

“WFP’s support complements other social protection programmes run by the national and county governments. Together, we can avert a hunger and nutrition crisis among poor communities living in urban areas,” she said.

Once a month, each selected family will receive 4,000 Kenyan shillings (US$40) - enough to cover half of the monthly food and nutrition needs for a family of four. The cash and additional nutrition support for women and children will be provided for three months.

“The Government of Kenya recognizes that pandemics affect a large segment of the population thus requiring immediate and timely support through various social protection interventions. The Government through the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection acknowledges the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially on the urban poor and the diverse impact it has had including loss of livelihoods and incomes, thus worsening already dire situations", said the Principal Secretary, State Department for Social Protection, Nelson Marwa.

“The Ministry, therefore, applauds this noble intervention from WFP, to provide immediate relief to the vulnerable urban populations in Nairobi and Mombasa through direct cash transfers. The Ministry in collaboration with WFP remains committed towards providing comprehensive and sustainable mid-term and long-term social protection measures for support, recovery and resilience.  County Governments, other partners and agencies in the region and elsewhere in Kenya are therefore urged to continue embracing the collaborative multi-stakeholder approach to combat this pandemic to cushion all the vulnerable populations from adverse effects of Covid-19.”

“We welcome the support from the USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance and the World Food Programme. This assistance will go a long way in cushioning the many families in distress following the loss of income due to the Covid-19 restrictions,” said H.E. Hassan Ali Joho, Governor of Mombasa County.

“We appreciate the deepening of support to vulnerable families after our own Mombasa Household Nutrition Support Programme met the initial needs. Since Covid-19 is likely to be with us for quite some time, we welcome all initiatives that can lessen the burden on vulnerable groups,” he added.

WFP is also partnering with the Ministry of Health, and Mombasa County Government to support treatment for malnutrition among 6,000 children and women in the city. WFP will distribute a nutritious peanut-based paste for children and fortified flour for malnourished mothers.  

In addition to Mombasa County Government and the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, WFP is working in close coordination with the Ministry of Devolution and the ASALS (Arid and Semi-Arid Lands), the Ministry of Health and other humanitarian partners to respond to the impact of COVID-19.

In Nairobi’s informal settlements, WFP is on course to reach 70,500 families with monthly cash transfers and is also distributing nutrition products to 21,000 people. This assistance is alleviating the economic suffering of people in crowded slums who already lived hand-to-mouth mostly relying on casual labour before COVID-19 struck and they lost their incomes.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. We are the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.


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Kenya Cash transfers Health emergencies Partnerships


For more information please contact:

Martin Karimi, WFP/Nairobi, Mob. +254 707 722 161,

Abdul Karim Mudathir, Mombasa County Government,
Mob. +254 721 446449,

Peter Smerdon, WFP/Nairobi, Tel. +254 20 762 2179,
Mob. +254 707 722 104,