Cash transfers using cell phones in pastoral areas

In 2007, Safaricom Limited launched a mobile money-transfer system called MPESA in Kenya. This system allows users to send or receive money on their Safaricom SIM card. Télécoms sans Frontières (TSF) and Vétérinaires sans Frontières–Germany (VSF-G) collaborated in using this electronic money-transfer system to distribute cash-for-work in pastoral areas in northern Kenya. After a successful pilot phase in Marsabit South District, electronic cash transfers were extended to other projects in Turkana North and North Horr Districts. A total of 1050 beneficiaries were paid through MPESA for cash-for-work activities. The report “MPESA project analysis: exploring the use of cash transfers using cell phones in pastoral areas” (2012, 19pp) analyses the TSF and VSF-G experience. It shows the appropriateness of using cell phones for cash transfers in pastoralist areas. Despite the challenges encountered mainly because of the remoteness of the project areas and use of a new technology, mobile money transfer proved to be an efficient way of delivering assistance compared to traditional cash distribution. Information was gathered mainly during the pilot phase from October 2011 to April 2012 in Laisamis District. An evaluation of the pilot project highlighted that it had a strong impact on beneficiary empowerment and sense of dignity.

Posted on 30 April 2017 in Pastoralism & Services