E-money eases donations to the vulnerable in the pandemic

Technology is re-shaping humanitarian intervention and donors are exploring innovative options to reach the vulnerable

14 May 2020 . 8,811 Views

Mbugua Mwangi runs on hope. That’s how he decided to bring learning and life skills to children from poor families in Mutuini, an economically deprived neighbourhood that sits 18 kilometers northeast of Nairobi near Dagoretti Market.

He didn’t have much going for him. But he was confident that he would raise the funds – a little from his personal income and some more from funders – to bring his hope alive so that he could in turn light up the hopes of others and give little children a chance at life.

Five years ago, Mutuini Hope Center was born. Today, the centre hosts 145 pupils daily from the neighbourhood its named after for day schooling and at least two meals.

The center’s headline fundraiser is an annual half-marathon which has now been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. Their whole way of life has been disrupted. The center has to deliver food packages to the pupil-families at their doorsteps, waiting for the day the crisis will clear.

Donate Bonga Points

As he sources harder-to-find funding for the center, Martin has given potential donors an additional option in lending a helping hand: they can also donate their Bonga Points.

“KES1,700 feeds a family for two weeks. We accept any amount or food rations delivered to the center. We are even collecting Bonga Points which I am hoping to redeem for shopping,” Martin says of Safaricom’s Bonga for Good initiative, which enables customers to pay for goods and services using Bonga Points or transfer them to those who need them.

Food donations ready for distribution at the Mutuini Hope Centre.

The situation at Mutuini Hope Centre is similar to that of millions across the world whose potential to earn a living has been affected negatively by the coronavirus pandemic.

The crisis has put millions out of jobs and exacerbated food insecurity around the world.

Food security

Governments, organisations and even individuals are grappling with how to enhance food security for the vulnerable to make it through the crisis without sliding into famine.

Benson Mutuku, who has 14 years’ experience working at an international humanitarian agency involved in emergency relief and development projects, says cash transfers give those who are in need of assistance more dignity and flexibility.

“Our experience from previous disasters shows that sending money directly to the affected communities is more effective, instead of spending part of the donated relief funds on overhead costs,” says Mutuku.

“Money enables beneficiaries to meet their basic needs, such as food or non-food items.”

In the past decade, many humanitarian aid organizations have increasingly adopted cash-transfer approaches, and a strong body of evidence shows that cash transfers are often more efficient and cost-effective than other forms of aid.

“Overhead costs associated with food donations including collecting, sorting, storing, transporting, and distributing fees are minimized,” says Mutuku.

Take the World Food Programme, for instance. They worked with Safaricom in Kenya to develop a tool that was named ‘Chakula Chap Chap,’ which enabled the delivery of emergency cash transfers to beneficiaries via their mobile phones within 48 hours of being registered during the 2017 drought.

Similarly, the initiative known as ‘Bamba Chakula’ has, for the last four years, enabled refugees to receive cash transfers through their mobile phones as a part replacement for their monthly food ration.

Digital interventions

“Chakula Chap Chap consists of three integrated systems that ensure the safety, traceability, and accountability of the scratch cards: the beneficiary registration tool, the voucher tracking system, and the voucher management system,” WFP said in a report.

In 2018, the World Food Programme carried out research to assess the effects of scaling up the substitution of the cereal rations with Cash-Based Transfers (CBT) amongst refugees in Dadaab and Kakuma camps. The study established that CBT is more cost-efficient than food transfers.

“In 2017, the total cost of delivering USD1 to beneficiaries was USD1.18 for the CBT compared to USD1.94 for the in-kind food transfers,” the institution stated.

In a 2016 Strategic Note, the World Bank argues that the composition of humanitarian assistance must be rebalanced to reflect the rapidly evolving context—cash can help facilitate linkages between humanitarian and development approaches.

“Cash assistance supports local markets, lays the foundations for communities’ recovery and resilience, and can complement existing social safety protection systems,” the report states.

Philip Ogola, a renowned Kenyan humanitarian, says cash transfers are more effective than taking food to the needy, especially now that the world is battling a contagion.

“Direct mobile money transfer is the best approach to send donations during this crisis. Coronavirus is highly contagious, and it is important that we adhere to the precautionary measures even as we extend our donations to minimize the risk of infection,” Ogola said.

Ogola added that technology is re-shaping humanitarian intervention, and donors should explore innovative options like M-PESA or electronic shopping vouchers like Bonga Points

“With reduced transaction costs, cash and vouchers result in more aid directly reaching beneficiaries, which ultimately ensures maximum impact for those in need and better value-for-money for donors and taxpayers,” Ogola said.

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95 comments

  1. I would thank you if you would help me

  2. I am jobless I need help

  3. Halp food

  4. Lost my jobdue to covid 19,got children at homebut no income,,,please helpne

  5. My mum at home is old and not able to work and its difficult to find food and basic needs and I'm not able to raise enough to help her send money to help

  6. I need help from safaricom, is there anyway safaricom can help to get money from a conman because I tried the reversal and I was told he has used it.

  7. You are doing good work and may the Lord continue to bless you and your family,am also a victim and I have three kids,the first one is in form three The second in class six and the last one in grade one,so when consindering those affected am one of them and single

  8. I need your support please.... Help me with the money....

  9. its true 'the dead shall bury the dead'send me details i waanna save a life i sent mpesa or donation

  10. I am really hopeless...please help me out of hunger...

  11. Plz help me i am suffering from hunger

  12. Am Rama help me with food from Ruben Nairobi Kenya

  13. am hungry help me with food from Ruben Nairobi Kenya

  14. Need your support.

  15. Need your support plz

  16. I lost my job through pandemic,Maisha yamekuwa , kukula ni shida.Ineed your Help please.

  17. I lost my hustle during this pandemic I really need your help

  18. I lost my job due to the pandemic,kindly if there's any help naomba usaidizi watoto wanakaa njaa tu

  19. Streetandslums@yahoo.com

  20. Streetandslums@yahoo.com

  21. Streetandslums@yahoo.com

  22. Streetandslums@yahoo.com

  23. it will be enough and thankful if safaricom with help us in turkana county with food

  24. It's good bt even me I have food problem and rent i am in Nairobi kibera can I get help i will thank you

  25. That's good for helping people

  26. I need some help for my children upkeep I lost My kimbarua due to covid-19 pandemic.

    1. We should learn thank God for safaricom be bless

  27. We work with a foundation known as Representating Street Kids and hence this time- we are targeting 50 families to feed on june at kiamworia-Gatundu kiambu county ,we need ur help as we touch lives.

  28. I need some donations for the less fortunate of kiamworia-Gatundu kiambu county whereby we need raw foods for about 30 families can you assist me

  29. That's good thought.. can I apply and get the donation

  30. That's gud thing ,,can students at university also get help

  31. can one get help from safaricom coz njaa imenikalia since corona ikunje plz

  32. frawaki youth want moving with safaricom if contracted

    1. Am sr Winfred Nkanya working with children who have physical and mental disabilities in very in the border of isiolo and meru.we are experiencing a serous drought and this mother's have no food and at the same time the effect of this corona virus. If safaricom can help please let me know.thank you God bless you.

  33. It's good and noble owesome work for reaching out. I would like to be helped with my stained glass decorations projects

  34. I join safaricom network from 2009 to date and im greatful on the network is operating in every corner of the county,how its helping its customer who need help ,though i never receive any promotion but im delightefull for my fellow beneficiaries. I could have some request if i given an oppotunity. thanks

  35. I have been sterved by hunger and yet not received any help from any one please

  36. Good inciative in helping the needy children in this pademic

  37. Mshwari is good bank

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