Exploring Cash Transfer as an Instrument for Food Security in Kenya
Ikiara, Gerrishon K
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Article 43(1)(c) of Kenya’s 2010 constitution guarantees food security to all Kenyans. This paper reviews the opportunities and challenges Kenya faces as it attempts to implement article 43(1)(c) of Kenya’s constitution, National Council for Law Reporting. The Cash Transfer system is taken in this paper as one of the strategies Kenya could use to implement country’s constitutional guarantee for food security to the country’s population. Cash Transfer (CT) mechanism refers to payment of a periodical cash payment to the beneficiaries of a social protection programme funded by a government or non-governmental institutions instead of supporting the beneficiaries through non-cash assistance such as food donations, medical support, bursaries, etc. Using data and information, collected by the author between May and August 2009 (See Gerrishon Ikiara, August, 2009) from government and donor representatives involved in Cash Transfer programmes in Kenya and updated secondary data on Kenya’s social protection programmes and the country’s socio-economic information, the study starts with a brief overview of Kenya’s socio-economic scene highlighting the increasing pressure for government intervention in form of social protection schemes for the most vulnerable sections of the society, reviews the country’s experience of cash and non-cash transfer programmes and examines the opportunities and challenges of implementing a more comprehensive cash transfer programme to address the country’s growing food insecurity especially in the context of expectations of the country’s population based on the national 2010 constitution which guarantees food security to all Kenyans as part of citizens social and economic rights. About 46% of Kenya’s population of slightly over 40 million people currently live below the poverty line. The country continues to grapple with serious socio-political and economic problems associated with poverty, unemployment, inequality and rising food insecurity. Although concerted efforts to revive the economy and implement anti-poverty measures taken by the Kibaki regime (2003-2013) were able to reduce the proportion of the population living below poverty levels from 56.9% to 46% within a decade, the socio-economic and political challenges facing the country with regard to satisfying basic needs of the country’s population continue to exert major socio-economic and political pressures. This has made the government of Kenya to review its policies and strategies on social protection for the most vulnerable sections of the population especially on orphaned children, the elderly and people living with disabilities.