NAIROBI – The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is contributing US$14.3 million (1.4 billion Kenyan shillings) to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to provide food assistance to more than 400,000 refugees living in northern Kenya.
With this contribution, WFP will provide direct cash transfers to refugees in Dadaab and Kakuma camps and in Kalobeyei settlement through February 2019.
“Since the beginning of this year, funding for the cash component of the refugees’ food basket has remained unpredictable and dangerously low,” said Annalisa Conte, WFP Country Director and Representative in Kenya. “We are grateful to the American people for their generosity and at the same time, we appeal to all donors to help secure funding needed to guarantee continued food assistance to refugees.”
“The United States government has and will always stand with disadvantaged men, women and children displaced from their countries by conflict or natural disasters,” said USAID’s Mission Director, Mark Meassick. “USAID is proud to partner with WFP and the Government of Kenya at both national and county levels in supporting food and nutrition security for refugees through the Bamba Chakula program, which also benefits host communities by stimulating local markets and creating jobs.”
In the Dadaab and Kakuma camps, WFP provides food assistance to refugees in the form of a mix of food items – cereals, pulses, vegetable oil and nutrient-enriched flour – and a cash transfer called Bamba Chakula, which is Swahili-based slang for ‘get your food.’
The cash, sent through mobile telephones, allows refugees to buy food products of their choice from local markets. USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP)<https://www.usaid.gov/who-we-are/organization/bureaus/bureau-democracy-conflict-and-humanitarian-assistance/office-food> partners with WFP to provide relief and build resilience among the most vulnerable populations in Kenya’s arid and semi-arid counties.
Each refugee in families of two or more in Dadaab and Kakuma camps now receives 400 Kenyan shillings (US$4), up from 300 Kenyan shillings (US$3) in September, via their mobile telephone. Single member families will continue receiving 500 Kenyan shillings (US$5) while each refugee in Kalobeyei settlement will continue to receive 1,400 Kenyan shillings (US$14) each month.
From October, WFP’s monthly cash transfer to refugees in Daadab, Kakuma and Kalobeyei increased to 220 million Kenyan shillings (US$2.2 million), up from 170 million Kenyan shillings (US$1.7 million). WFP is working with over 800 traders to serve refugees. The cash transfers to refugees have greatly boosted trading in the Dadaab, Kakuma and Kalobeyei markets. Overall, WFP requires some US$7 million to provide food assistance to refugees in Kenya every month.
While cash represents only a portion of the assistance given to the 400,000 refugees, it plays an important role in providing dietary diversity. The cash supports local purchase of specialized nutrition product like fresh fruit and vegetables. It also promotes the development of local markets.