Safaricom to Move Drought Funds via M-PESA for Free

M-PESA to disburse KES 1 Billion free of charge to 360,000 households across 23 arid and semi-arid lands (ASAL) counties as part of the Emergency Relief Cash. Each household will receive a max amount of KES 3000.

From left: Kenya Red Cross, Deputy Secretary General-Programmes, Annette Msabeni, MD Mpesa Africa & Chief Financial Services Officer, Sitoyo Lopokoyit engage with Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Public Service, Gender and Senior Citizens Affair and Special Programmes. Margaret Kobia during the launch of Emergency Relief Cash Transfer at Harambee House.

Telco Safaricom has today revealed a new collaboration with the Kenya government to facilitate free mobile money transfer to drought-stricken households in 23 Arid and Semi-Arid Land (ASAL) counties as a drought response intervention.

According to a statement from the operator, the partnership with the State Department of Public Service, Gender, Senior Citizen Affairs, and Special Programmes will see the first cohort of 360,696 beneficiaries receive KES 1,082,088,000 through M-PESA.

Each household will get KES 3,000 on a monthly basis until the rain situation gets better.

Over 2.5 million people are currently experiencing food insecurity with the situation continuing to deteriorate following the below-average long rain season and further compounded by the damage caused by the desert locust invasions, especially in the northern pastoral areas.

To this end, the government has moved to adopt cashless disbursement of benefits to vulnerable persons and other beneficiaries of its programs due to high preference and availability of services such as M-PESA.

The latest data from the Communications Authority of Kenya states that M-PESA has more than 257,000 agents across the country meaning most of the population can actually access an agent to transact.

“We are happy to partner and support the government’s nationwide efforts to provide immediate relief to the affected households in ASAL counties. Besides facilitating direct cash transfers through our M-PESA bulk payment service, we have waived transaction fees (transfer and withdrawal). This will enable the beneficiaries to receive the intended full amount of KES 3,000,” said Peter Ndegwa, CEO – Safaricom.

“The current outlook from National Drought and Management Authority (NDMA) and the Kenya Meteorological Department indicate that the drought situation is expected to persist,” said Prof. Margaret Kobia, Cabinet Secretary for Public Service, Gender, Senior Citizens Affairs and Special Programmes.