WFP, Gov’t set up cash transfers for Mombasa families hit by COVID-19
The World Food Programme (WFP) and the government have launched cash transfers for 24,000 families whose livelihoods were destroyed by the impact of coronavirus in Mombasa.
Travel restrictions and partial lockdowns to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Kenya have dealt a devastating blow to the economy.
“COVID-19 has caused untold suffering especially to families living in the poor urban areas who normally rely on informal day-to-day employment. Many families in the coastal region are struggling just to feed themselves,” says Lauren Landis, WFP’s Kenya Country Director.
“WFP’s support complements other social protection programmes run by the national and county governments. Together, we can avert a hunger and nutrition crisis among poor communities living in urban areas,” she said.
WFP launched the cash-based support in Mombasa for 24,000 families – or 96,000 people with a contribution from USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance.
Once a month, each selected family will receive Ksh. 4,000 (US$40) – enough to cover half of the monthly food and nutrition needs for a family of four.
The cash and additional nutrition support for women and children will be provided for three months.
According to WFP, families at the coast who depended on informal daily employment to earn money directly or indirectly from the tourism industry were particularly affected.
Mombasa County accounts for 12 percent of the number of COVID-19 cases in Kenya – the second highest number after Nairobi.
Tourism was the leading source of income in the county before the pandemic.
As a result of rising infections, most of the tourism sector was forced to cut its workforce and many businesses either closed entirely or are struggling to stay afloat.
On September 1, the Kenyan National Bureau of Statistics estimated that as many as 1.7 million Kenyans had lost jobs across the country.
The unemployment rate doubled to 10.4 percent compared to 5.2 percent in March when the first cases of COVID-19 were reported.
“We welcome the support from the USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance and the World Food Programme. This assistance will go a long way in cushioning the many families in distress following the loss of income due to the Covid-19 restrictions,” said Mombasa County Governor Hassan Ali Joho.
“We appreciate the deepening of support to vulnerable families after our own Mombasa Household Nutrition Support Programme met the initial needs. Since Covid-19 is likely to be with us for quite some time, we welcome all initiatives that can lessen the burden on vulnerable groups,” he added.
WFP is also partnering with the Ministry of Health, and Mombasa County Government to support treatment for malnutrition among 6,000 children and women in the city.
WFP will distribute a nutritious peanut-based paste for children and fortified flour for malnourished mothers.
In addition to Mombasa County Government and the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, WFP is working in close coordination with the Ministry of Devolution and the ASALS (Arid and Semi-Arid Lands), the Ministry of Health and other humanitarian partners to respond to the impact of COVID-19.
In Nairobi’s informal settlements, WFP is on course to reach 70,500 families with monthly cash transfers and is also distributing nutrition products to 21,000 people.
This assistance is alleviating the economic suffering of people in crowded slums who already lived hand-to-mouth mostly relying on casual labour before COVID-19 struck and they lost their incomes.