The Effects of Hunger Safety Net Cash transfers on economic inclusion of women beneficiaries in Wajir
Social cash transfers have progressively gained wide acceptance as viable models for intervention in addressing extreme poverty and inequality among lower income citizens. For the past 15 years, Kenya has been at the fore of investing in large-scale poverty based cash transfer programmes as evidenced by the increment in annual budget allocation. Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP) is one of the government’s cash transfer programme aimed at reducing extreme poverty, enhancing livelihoods and promoting economic inclusion of poorest citizens in the arid counties of Wajir, Turkana, Marsabit and Mandera. This research sought to explore the effects of HSNP on the economic inclusion of high-income poor women beneficiaries in Wajir. The study explored the effects on the four concepts of economic inclusion as defined within the context of social safety nets. They include regular income, household expenditure, accumulation of productive assets and decision-making power over use of income. Using an exploratory case study design, the study collected qualitative data through face-to-face in-depth interviews of 289 HSNP women beneficiaries in Wajir. Data was analyzed through deductive coding and presented in simple descriptive statistics. The study findings revealed that HSNP cash transfers were having positive effects on economic inclusion of women beneficiaries. However, the achievement of maximum results was hindered by the weak complementary support services in the project design. The study recommends that HSNP considers integrating into the programme design and implementation mechanism, strategic components that create conducive environment for economic inclusion such as: delivery of differentiated cash transfer values pegged on the size and poverty status of households, tailor-made financial literacy programmes, microenterprise training, responsive grassroots communication strategies, and subsidized health insurance cover. In addition, the components should be gender and culture sensitive.