Cash transfers and livelihood promotion: A study of the Government of Kenya Cash Transfer Programme for Orphans and Vulnerable Children
The concept and practice of social protection in developing countries has advanced at an astonishing pace over the last decade or so. There is a growing consensus around the view that social protection constitutes an effective response to poverty and vulnerability in developing countries, and is also an essential component of economic and social development strategies. Particularly, cash transfers as a form of social protection have in the recent times gained increasing interest among donors, NGOs and National governments. They are seen as an underexploited means of providing basic social protection. As a result numerous cash transfer schemes have been piloted worldwide. Notable is the Kenya Cash Transfer Programme on Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) which was piloted in the year 2004. The broad objective of this study was to therefore explore the extent to which cash transfers promote secure livelihoods among beneficiary households. It was guided by the assumption that cash transfers as a form of social protection would have positive effects on household wellbeing and livelihoods. The specific objectives of the study were to: analyse the asset portfolios of beneficiary households; analyse the uses of cash transfers within beneficiary households; find out the extent to which cash transfers were invested in productive activities and finally to establish the extent to which the cash transfer programme had led to improved wellbeing of beneficiary households. The study was done in Kibera slum and used a sample size of 60 households who had benefited from the cash transfer programme. Snow - balling and purposive sampling were the main sampling techniques used in the study. Structured questionnaires, key informant interviews, focus group discussion and observation were the main methods of data collection. Asset analysis in the beneficiary household's established that these households had a very low asset base. On the uses of cash transfers, the study established that cash transfers were mainly used to secure basic level of consumption needs as opposed to enabling people to save, invest and accumulate assets. The study established that the cash transfer money was rarely invested in productive activities contrary to the view held by Adato and Basset (2008), Vincent K. And Cull T. 2008, Farrington et al. (2007), UNICEF report (2008) who observe that social protection enable people to move structurally out of poverty by building assets and investing in productive activities. In relation to improving household's wellbeing, the study found out that cash transfers had to a great extent improved the household wellbeing of beneficiary respondents; however cash transfers had the potential of perpetuating dependency among beneficiary households. Some of the recommendations that the study offers include: the need for more developmental and holistic response to address the multiple vulnerabilities that are faced by ave households; proper targeting mechanism based on vulnerability analysis to inform the design of social protection mechanisms in order to increase their effectiveness in promoting secure livelihoods; integrating the cash transfer programme within a wider national social protection system that complements interventions promoting growth and providing basic social services and the need for the Government to increase the cash transfer allocations to the households to allow significant investments in productive activities and achieve a bigger impact in terms of health, education and income generation among others.