On 15th October 2011, Télécoms Sans Frontières, in collabo- Objectives ration with Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Germany, launched the RAPID M-PESA pilot project, financed by GIZ, whose objec- tive is to improve food security of vulnerable households in pastoral areas of Kenya, and reduce the effects of famine on their living conditions.
The aim of VSF-G is to conduct Cash for Work and Cash Transfer activities, and thanks to TSF’s expertise, to remune- rate the beneficiaries using the M-PESA system. Regular payments via the M-PESA system will enable the reduction of the beneficiaries’ vulnerability – villagers from the Marsabit South District (Marsabit County, northern Kenya) – to recurrent food crises in the country.
Cash for Work activities include road repairing, plastic waste removal, and water-related operations (water trucking, borehole repair, road clearance, etc.)
M-PESA is an agent-assisted, mobile phone-based, payment and money transfer system. This system enables people to send money in electronic form, store money on a mobile phone in an electronic account, and deposit or withdraw money in the form of hard currency at any of the 30,000 nationwide M-PESA agent locations. Using mobile networks and technology for transferring money is more secure than carrying cash.
This project is part of Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Germany’s emergency response program in Kenya and more particularly of its “Response in Arid-lands for Pastoralists in Drought affected Kenya (RAPID) project”, funded by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).
BENEFICIARIES IDENTIFICATION AND TSF VSF-G decided to conduct the pilot project in the Marsabit South District. It will be implemented in three towns: Laisamis, Merille and Logologo. From 4th to 21st January 2012, TSF went to each of the selected areas to train the benefi- ciaries who will be paid via M-PESA.
The beneficiaries are pastoralists. VSF-G chose them according to vulnerability criteria such as: household where the head is a single mother, household with a herd of less than 20 heads of cattle, household where the head takes care of orphans. In each village, a support committee helped VSF-G to select the beneficiaries, with at least one person with literacy and/or knowing how to use a mobile phone per village.
TRAINING At the beginning of January, beneficiaries were separated into groups of 5 people and they attended training where each group received a cell phone and a solar charger provided by TSF. Moreover, each beneficiary who did not yet have a line received a personal SIM card and registered on M-PESA.
Most of the beneficiaries are not used to dealing with a cell phone, and for this reason, TSF trained 14 community assistants among the beneficiaries who are literate and already have some knowledge about cell phones. They will be able to help the other beneficiaries in case of problems with the cell phones or if needed, to read a message.
TSF also created a User guide detailing how to use a cell phone, and the creation and use of an M-PESA account, to assist them during and after the training.
Finally, if the inhabitants of big towns are familiar with M-PESA agents and systems, for villagers living in more isolated areas it is very often a discovery. The opening of an M-PESA account is compulsory for the beneficiaries of the project to receive the payments for Cash for Work activities. To assist them in the process of M-PESA registra-tion, TSF recruited a local assistant with good knowledge of the M-PESA system.
To confirm the secure registration of each of the newly created M-PESA accounts, TSF will use the FrontlineSMS application before carrying out the first payment.
The training of the 350 beneficiaries ended on 21st January 2012.
Next Steps Cash for Work activities started on 23rd January 2012 in Merille and will start on 30th January in Laisamis and Logologo. They will last one month and will be followed by two months of Cash Transfer.
Each beneficiary of the M-PESA project will be paid after 10 days of work. TSF will carry out the follow up of the payments to ensure the good progression of the project.
TSF and VSF-G will analyze the results of the M-PESA pilot project so as to measure the impact and the appropriateness of this system and the possibilities to expand it further.
The fruits of this experience will be shared with the other stakeholders in Kenya to transfer the lessons learnt on the use of the payment system for Cash for Work activities in pastoral areas. TSF will notably make a presentation in March, on the occasion of the monthly Kenya Cash Transfer Working Group (CaLP) meeting.