Cash Transfers in Nairobi's Slums: Improving food security and gender dynamics | Cash Transfers

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In Kenya, a combination of factors led to the food crisis of 2008-9, which put around 9.5 million people at risk of starvation. About 4.1 million of those affected were living in informal settlements (slums) in the capital, Nairobi. Oxfam and Concern Worldwide developed a joint programme to address this unfolding emergency. The programme, implemented with local partners in two slums, aimed to improve access to food in the short term via cash transfers and to provide further income opportunities and improve livelihoods in the longer term.
  GENDER EQUALITY IN EMERGENCIES OCTOBER 2012 Oxfam Programme Insights   CASH TRANSFERS IN NAIROBI’S SLUMS   Improving food security and gender dynamics Cash transfer beneficiaries engage in food vending in the slums. ©Oxfam. In Kenya, a combination of factors led to the food crisis of 2008  – 9, which put around 9.5 million people at risk of starvation. About 4.1 million of those affected were living in informal settlements (slums) in the capital, Nairobi. Oxfam and Concern Worldwide developed a joint programme to address this unfolding emergency. The programme, implemented with local partners in two slums, aimed to improve access to food in the short term via cash transfers and to provide further income opportunities and improve livelihoods in the longer term. The experience shows that developing a strong understanding of women’s  lives can ensure that cash transfers help them to effectively meet their immediate needs and build successful programmes to meet women’s longer  -term needs.  2 Programme Insights series Gender Equality in Emergencies: Practical Lessons INTRODUCTION Kenya faces a number of pressing challenges, including lack of peace and security, high unemployment, and recurrent drought, which puts millions of Kenyans at risk of hunger.  Although poverty levels declined by almost 11 per cent between 2000 and 2006 1 , UNDP estimated that 45.9 per cent of the population were living below the national poverty line in 2011. 2  Poverty levels are highest in the northern pastoralist districts but over half of the people who live in Nairobi live in slums, with very limited access to basic social services, including clean water and sanitation. Kenya has many aspects of a patriarchal society and women tend to be marginalised economically, socially, and politically. The effects of gender discrimination are clearly shown in the different levels of achievement by women and men. For instance, only 9.8 per cent of parliamentary seats are held by women, and only 20.1 per cent of adult women have reached secondary or higher education compared with 38.6 per cent of men. For every 100,000 live births, 530 women die from pregnancy-related causes. 3  Like many other developing countries, Kenya continues to undergo rapid urbanisation. The majority of the urban poor live in informal settlements, with around 2 million people living in Nairobi’s slums. They comprise more than half the capital’s population yet are crammed into only 5 per cent of the city’s residential area s, and 1 per cent of all land in the city. 4  It is estimated that 50 per cent of Kenya ’s  population will be living in urban areas by 2050. Oxfam in Kenya Since starting work in Kenya in 1963, Oxfam has provided long-term development aid and emergency humanitarian relief. Oxfam works with the most vulnerable communities in the remote northern regions and, more recently, in the impoverished slums of Nairobi. Working with government, the private sector, civil society and communities, as well as international development actors, Oxfam aims to significantly reduce poverty and inequality in Kenya. Oxfam has been involved in providing cash transfers in Kenya for some years as a partner in the government’s Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP), 5  a major cash transfer programme designed to reduce extreme poverty among pastoralists in Northern Kenya. Supporting urban programmes in Kenya is new for Oxfam, although the organisation has considerable experience of urban programmes in other countries. Oxfam is moving towards a one-programme approach that requires emergency programmes to include longer-term development and campaigning objectives, where possible. In the case of Nairobi ’s  slums, the programme was intended to move from a short-term emergency cash transfer intervention to a longer-term social protection intervention. Concern in Kenya Concern Worldwide began operations in Kenya in May 2002, with the development of an urban programme in Nairobi. Since then, it has expanded to become a multi-sectoral programme, including support for urban and rural livelihoods, primary education, work on HIV and AIDS, and health and nutrition  –  all underpinned by a strong advocacy element. Since 2002, emergency response (whether to flood, drought or political violence) has also been a key part of Concern’s work in Kenya, implemented in partnership with local organisations. Concern has run several emergency cash transfer programmes  –  for example, in the context of the 2007 post-election violence in the Kerio Valley and the slums of Nairobi. It has growing experience of implementing innovative cash transfer programmes, whether as part of social protection programming or emergency response, and does not make a rigid distinction between  Cash transfers in Nairobi’s slums: improving food security and gender dynamics  3 the two approaches. The organisation has also provided emergency cash transfers in a number of countries in East Africa and southern Africa as well in countries such as Niger, where they ran a large rural programme triggered by the drought there. THE JOINT CASH TRANSFER PROGRAMME  A combination of factors, including consecutive droughts, post-election violence, low food grain production, and global food price hikes led to a significant increase in food prices in Kenya, sparking a food crisis in 2008  – 9. Between 2007 and 2008, the price of maize meal increased by 133 per cent, beans by 96 per cent, vegetables by 55 per cent, and oils and fats by 77 per cent. Overall, the cost of a basic needs basket for poor households rose by 63 per cent 6 . According to a report commissioned by Oxfam in 2008, 7  90 per cent of households surveyed in the slums of Korogocho and Mukuru, in Nairobi, had reduced the number of meals they eat and their diet diversity. Many had started engaging in high-risk livelihood strategies such as prostitution or begging, and up to 30 per cent of children had been taken out of school. In January 2009, the g overnment of Kenya declared the country’s food crisis to be a national disaster. According to government statistics, an estimated 9.5 million people were at risk of starvation, with 4.1 million of these living in urban informal settlements. Oxfam, Care International (Kenya), and Concern Worldwide commissioned research 8  which indicated that there was a humanitarian crisis unfolding in the slums of Nairobi, where families were finding it increasingly difficult to meet their basic everyday needs. Many people were already struggling to earn a living from the informal sector, in irregular or low-paid work, and the dramatic hike in food prices was having a major effect on nutritional intake among the poorest families in these areas, including Kibera, Mathare, Korogocho, Mukuru Kwa Njenga, and Deep Sea. As part of a larger co-ordinated programme in Nairobi, Oxfam GB and Concern Worldwide developed a joint programme to address this urban crisis. Objectives The programme’s overall objective was to improve the food and livelihood security of the most food- insecure households in Nairobi’s informal settlements by increasing their immediate access to food and developing longer-term initiatives to improve their access to food and income security. The food security intervention had three phases. Phase one , from October 2009, was an immediate response to reduce the impact of the food crisis, providing monthly cash transfers to 5,000 households (2,000 in Korogocho and 3,000 in Mukuru) for eight months. Phase two  was a medium-term   response, providing cash transfers alongside skills development and training to help poor households set up businesses and engage in more profitable income-earning activities (‘exit’ interventions) . Phase three  involved longer-term plans for the implementing agencies and their local partners to influence key stakeholders to develop a co-ordinated and systematic monitoring approach, which included developing emergency indicators for the urban context. It also involved co-ordinated advocacy activities to encourage the government to invest in social protection measures for vulnerable urban populations. The first and second phases of the programme  –  cash transfers and exit interventions  –  have now ended. The programme is continuing its third-phase activities by strengthening government capacity to design and develop an urban social protection programme. Its advocacy objective has already been achieved, in that the Kenyan government has adopted the programme’s  4 Programme Insights series Gender Equality in Emergencies: Practical Lessons urban cash transfer model in a pilot project being run by the Ministry of Gender, targeting 10,000 households in the slums of Mombasa. Oxfam and Concern are providing quality assurance by training staff from the Ministry, developing monitoring tools, supporting field monitoring, and reviewing implementation processes and systems. The programme sought to achieve a number of outcomes, including exploring the issues around targeting cash transfers in urban contexts. In order to reduce the stress caused by the food price hikes, it was essential to reach the very poorest groups, particularly women, who generally manage household affairs. Further objectives were: to show that cash can be safely and effectively distributed to poor people in slums using mobile phone technology; to explore the benefits of cash as opposed to food aid to the urban poor; to demonstrate impact through monitoring and evaluation, and learning. Oxfam and Concern both believe that cash transfers are suited to urban environments in crisis, given that the urban poor are so reliant on the market and buy 90 per cent of household requirements with cash. In Nairobi, food was available to buy in the slums and there were knock-on benefits associated with stimulating market demand. Cash transfers also allowed beneficiaries to prioritise expenditure according to their needs, including, but not restricted to, food. The two slums identified for the programme (see Box 1) were Korogocho, where Concern worked, and Mukuru, where Oxfam worked. The selection was made by using statistics on poverty distribution. The two slums have important differences: Mukuru is larger and close to the city’s major industrial area, which means there is some formal sector employment available; Korogocho is more cut off, with less formal sector economic activity and therefore more dependence on the casual labour market. Box 1: Location of Korogocho and Mukuru in Nairobi
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