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Evaluation of post 2007 election violence recovery programme in Kenya

Summary of report1

The Safaricom vehicle at Kinyach Police Post – the distribution point for the cash transfer project

Evaluation headlines: The NGO, Concern Worldwide, was involved in immediate and recovery responses to the post-election violence in Kenya. The evaluation founds the response was effective in linking relief and recovery and the intervention design (cash transfers delivered by mobile phone and indexed to household size and market prices, and combining food and livelihood support) appropriate, appreciated by beneficiaries and successful. Targeting was valid but transparency and fairness can improve. Trade-offs in this type of approach include prompting business versus supporting the most vulnerable and empowering through cash transfers versus supporting the most needy.

The announcement of the closely contested 2007 presidential election results on 30th December 2007 sparked off violence never witnessed before in the history of independent Kenya. Over 1,500 people died and between 400,000 and 600,000 were internally displaced. Effects of the violence and displacement were particularly severe in Western Kenya, the Rift Valley, and amongst business owners in major cities including Nairobi, Kisumu, Eldoret, Nakuru and Naivasha.

The crisis had various immediate humanitarian implications and high economic costs. Many of those displaced were destitute. Malnutrition was exacerbated by rocketing food and petrol prices in Nyanza (particularly), or by lack of access to farms in the north Rift Valley. Low cereal production as a result of both poor rains and poor access to farms had knock-on effects on food availability elsewhere in the country, including Nairobi. Health systems and care-seeking behaviour were disrupted. In terms of the economy, people lost jobs and were excluded from their livelihoods, and suffered secondary effects of economic slowdown. One estimate puts these costs at Ksh100 billion (USD1.5 billion), focused on western regions that were already amongst the country’s poorest. Livelihoods were affected not only by the displacement but also by violence that directly or indirectly damaged businesses.

The Kenyan government’s response to the crisis was led by the Ministry of Special Programmes, which coordinated with the Kenyan Red Cross and implemented in partnership with a range of civil society organisations including non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and faith based organisations (FBOs). The response initially provided basic needs to displaced persons in camps, focusing on protection, food, education, health, water and sanitation. However, while basic needs in camps appear to have been met, there remained substantial concerns about the situation of displaced persons outside camps. Furthermore, conditions within camps deteriorated with the onset of the rainy season, the duration of the crisis and pressures on support networks and resources.

Concern’s response

The non-governmental organisation, Concern, was involved in both the initial response to the crisis (providing initial emergency relief), and in a further recovery programme. This combined approach sought to link relief and development and to help recipients of aid to not only regain basic needs but to participate actively in development processes. The first element of the response was the provision of emergency relief (food distribution, emergency water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), Nutrition support and psychosocial support). Concern, in partnership with FBOs and NGOs, provided support to the internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in the formal and informal camps, host communities, and IDPs in transit. Concern’s responses to the emergency were divided into two phases:

The two emergency relief phases were followed by two recovery phases. These used cash transfers to support the recovery of affected households in terms of regained food security and livelihoods:

PEVR programme

The PEVR programme focused on immediate humanitarian assistance and livelihood support to victims of violence with special attention to food insecure households.

The principle objective of the PEVR programme was to enable severely affected rural and urban populations in Nyanza, Nairobi and North Rift Valley to mitigate the negative impact of the post election violence and resume productive roles in the national development process. The specific objective was to meet short-term food security needs of IDPs and returnee/resettled households, thorough the provision of targeted food aid.

Evaluation findings

An evaluation of the PEVR highlighted a number of key findings regarding the programme3. One key finding was that the PEVR was highly relevant to the effects of the violence, not only for linking relief and recovery, but also because its design was particularly appropriate in two ways.

First, following recommendations made from the pilot and in several other cash transfer evaluations, transfers were indexed to household size and local market prices, and were sent to families through their mobile phones. This was intended to address potential inflationary concerns and to meet household food entitlements for households of varying sizes. The food support element was calculated to provide a food basket comprising of basic food items like maize, beans, sugar, salt and oil designed to meet 50% of the calorific requirements of household members. On average Ksh 600 per household member was sent monthly through M-PESA for a period of 3-6 months to enable households to buy food.

Second, the PEVR combined food and livelihood support. The monthly food security grant was combined with a one off ‘business grant’ of between Ksh 3000 and 6000 given to households who had lost livelihoods. This business grant was designed to restore households’ on and off-farm income generating activities affected by the violence and to therefore assist in Kenya’s economic recovery, while ensuring humanitarian needs were met.

Overall, the programme was viewed very positively by the majority of partners and recipients. Partners felt the programme assisted those who received the transfer, either through a temporary support to basic needs at a time when people were still struggling with high prices and fragile livelihoods, and with more lasting impact as recipients invested in businesses or were able to absorb medicines and nutrients and start working. Recipients were uniformly delighted and often reported boosts in self-confidence as a result of receiving the transfer. Negative impacts were rare and were related to poor communication, uncertainties in Concern’s budget and the speed with which the programme was implemented.

Combining food and livelihoods grants was highly effective where it was implemented well. Although recipients did not spend the entire food transfer on food, they were better able to meet their household food needs and also pay school fees and rebuild their livelihoods. The evaluation did not find evidence of misuse or disincentives to work.

More specifically, the indexing of the transfer to household size and market prices was effective and useful and should be repeated in further transfers. However, recipients were sometimes confused by the variation in the amount they received and this made them, on some occasions, less confident to challenge programme staff when they thought they had received insufficient amounts. For longer-term transfers, the fiscal implications of indexing the value to local prices will need to be considered.

The M-PESA delivery system was effective and highly valued by recipients, and should be repeated. The M-PESA distribution system was universally considered to be the best method of distribution, delivering direct to recipients and allowing them to keep their transfers secret. However, careful thought needs to be given to the most appropriate programme for those unable to use mobile phones or collect the transfer themselves, who had in the PEVR to choose nominees to collect on their behalf. The nominee system was open to abuse and recipients valued this far less.

The targeting process selected vulnerable households affected by the violence, as intended. However, because the targeting process was largely outsourced to community members and partner staff with limited time, often those selected were not the most vulnerable and were in many cases known personally to those doing the targeting. While the targeting criteria remain valid, further consideration could be given to the specification of the targeting mechanism to improve its fairness and organisation.

The evaluation suggested that this programme model could be usefully repeated, with small adjustments, in post-emergency and normal situations in Kenya and elsewhere.

The evaluation identified a number of trade-offs that need to be considered moving forward:

  1. Promoting businesses vs. supporting the very vulnerable. Business development implies focusing on the dynamic and entrepreneurial. Very vulnerable households are typically neither. The business development model needs to be reconsidered for these (bed-ridden, very elderly) individuals and households.
  2. Empowering recipients through M-PESA based cash transfers vs. caring for the needy. A similar problem, the neediest struggle to collect cash and are reliant on caregivers to provide for them (including collecting their cash, and buying their food and medicines). M-PESA-based cash transfers have been reviewed very positively in this programme. But are M-PESA cash transfers the right approach for individuals in full-time care, who are not aware of what they are receiving?
  3. Calibrated transfers vs. simplicity. Varying the transfer sizes by price and household size is sensible, particularly in long-term programmes where price changes are likely to be a significant concern. But this makes it much more difficult for recipients to understand their entitlements. A possible solution is to have annual adjustments for inflation rather than monthly adjustments, and intensive publication of the changes.
  4. Timeliness vs. clarity of communication. The programme needed to begin in order to address very real food insecurity concerns, but the speed at which it was implemented caused problems of communication impacting on the quality of implementation. Future programmes could take more time if possible, but preparations could be made for clear communication briefs in emergency programming.
  5. Transparency vs secrecy. While transparency in targeting and programme design is highly desirable from the point of view of accountability and community acceptance, particularly around targeting, being entirely open about the transfer can create security problems for recipients seeking to hide their transfers from others.
  6. Independent targeting vs. community acceptance. Involving community leaders in targeting risks selecting the same recipients time and time again, but not involving them may put the entire programme at risk should they reject it. Requiring a house-to-house approach seems crucial to capture the poorest, and community leaders could be involved in a supervised validation stage.

The evaluation recommended a number of modifications for further exploration in future programmes including:

For more information, contact: Anne O’Mahony, Concern’s Country Director in Kenya, email: and Ian MacAuslan Oxford Policy Management (OPM), email:

Nancy Locuhulia Paul, aged 46 from Loywat in Pokot East District, single mother of seven children and a grandmother of three. At the first distribution, Nancy was the first person to receive the text message that her that her money had come through. She used the money to buy food and treatment for her livestock. At a meeting held by Concern before the second distribution, Nancy told us how they all appreciated the support saying “Thank you very much; before you came we were very restricted. Now we have phones, we have money – as women, we are empowered”.

Samuel Chesubet is the Peace and Reconciliation Initiative Chairperson for Pokot East. Apart from the obvious financial support benefits of the cash transfer project, an additional outcome has been successful peace-building between the three ethnic groups involved.

Mr Chesubet explained “We have been trying to bring the Pokots and Turgen together, and have held a number of sensitisation meetings to discuss issues. Since Concern came in with the M-Pesa support, we have experienced some peace. People attend meetings and thus can discuss reconciliation initiatives. Thanks to Concern, we are also attending to our farms and livestock – our livelihood”.

Maria Kipketer receiving her cash. She is 38 years old and is married with 8 children, and lives in Kinyach. She is a cluster leader - so responsible for helping the other 9 people in her cluster to get their money.

Show footnotes

1Evaluation of Concern’s post election violence recovery (PEVR) programme. Final Report. Ian MacAuslan, Oxford Policy Management (OPM) 2010. Full report available at:

2Evaluation of Concern Kenya’s Korogocho Emergency and Food Security Cash Transfer Initiative. Ian MacAuslan and Lilly Schofield. OPM and Concern Worldwide. Final Report. January 2011

3The evaluation methodology revolved around in-depth interviews and focus group discussions conducted in Nairobi and Nyanza. Focus groups and in-depth interviews were conducted with recipients, nonrecipients, and recipients through nominees, and in-depth interviews were also conducted with partner staff.

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Reference this page

Evaluation of post 2007 election violence recovery programme in Kenya. Field Exchange 46: Special focus on urban food security & nutrition, September 2013. p65.



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