Cash transfers and household food and non-food expenditures: a case study of the hunger safety net programme in Lodwar town
The Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP) is an unconditional cash transfer programme that has been used to reach out to the food insecure people residing in Northern Kenya. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between participation in the programme and household food and non-food expenditures. Survey data collected within three locations in Lodwar Town, in Kenya’s Turkana County, was used. Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) approach to linear regression was used to estimate Engel curves. Contrary to expectation, the study found strong evidence that participation in HSNP was not associated with higher household food and non-food expenditure. Despite the additional income available to participant households, they were found to spend less on food than nonparticipant households. Besides purchase of food, a portion of the funds transferred through the HSNP was used in purchasing non-food items such as blankets and clothes, services like health and education, and assets like livestock and housing, thus reducing poverty. Part of the funds were also invested or saved. It is expected that empirical information generated through this study will inform decisions on rolling out of similar safety nets elsewhere not just in Kenya, but in Africa.