In response to the current COVID-19 crisis, Terre des Hommes Netherlands has started monthly cash transfers to support the 50 families in our project in Busia county, Kenya. The supported families were already economically vulnerable, and are struggling with the economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis, coupled with flooding in their area resulting from excessive rains. More than half of them (29) have been displaced due to the floods.
Terre des Hommes Netherlands normally works in the area to curb child sexual exploitation. To protect the families from COVID-19 and help them comply with the government directive to wear face masks in public space, our local partner ANPPCAN has supplied all of them with face masks. The face masks were handed over at their place of work, for those families who have been supported with small businesses that are still in operation despite the floods. Others received their face mask at home. The face masks are washable, so that they can be reused.
Terre des Hommes Netherlands has opted for cash transfers as emergency food support, instead of in-kind food donations. Cash transfers make use of the mobile phone payment technology. They are faster to organise logistically, help in sustaining the local economy and give families flexibility and independence in deciding what they mostly need.
In some cases however, when the family does not own a mobile phone to receive the transfer, or when the family is a child-headed household, ANPPCAN’s project staff has received the cash transfer on their behalf. With the cash, they have locally bought a food basket consisting of basic supplies, and handed them over to the familie.
Busia county is located in Western Kenya and comprises the two main border crossings to/from Uganda. As such it forms the gateway to the landlocked countries that depend on goods being transported from the Kenyan port of Mombasa - not only Uganda, but also Rwanda, Burundi, DR Congo and South Sudan. Busia is furthermore characterised by high levels of poverty and a relatively high number of orphans and child-headed households due to HIV/Aids. This combined with the proximity of Lake Victoria, makes it a breeding ground for child sexual exploitation. The Terre des Hommes Netherlands project in the area intends to respond to and prevent child sexual exploitation through awareness creation and strengthening of child protection structures.