New aid and payment system aims to reduce hunger in Kenya

Fri, 2015-09-04 06:00 -- SCC Staff


More than 170,000 refugees are crammed into a tiny camp in Kenya, a camp that’s so full, new arrivals wanting to stay there have been turned away for more than a year. Hunger and malnutrition are the norm. Children are separated from families. Resources are scarce.

But a new partnership between Council Lead Partner MasterCard and the United Nations could help reduce hunger, improve living conditions and offer some stability in an unstable region.

MasterCard and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations are partnering on a project that will support local farmers through a combination of direct aid and payment services that will help make that support more sustaining.

Effort to improve harmony
The partnership will begin with an effort to create a more harmonious balance in and around the Kakuma refugee camp. It’s a delicate situation. So many people continue to seek refuge there, there’s a strain between the camp and the permanent residents.

To help address that, MasterCard will provide camp residents with pre-paid cards that are good for a quarter of their annual charcoal needs. That charcoal is produced by local farmers who agree to produce it with environmentally friendly, sustainable practices.

In addition to reducing hunger, this approach helps create an economy, helping local farmers see the refugees as a valuable part of it.

MasterCard is providing 1,240 households with improved charcoal-making kilns and 7,000 refugee households with energy efficient stoves and prepaid cards for the charcoal to fuel them.

Situation continues to be a struggle
On humanitarian grounds, Kenya has granted refugee status to people fleeing the violence in South Sudan. A new peace agreement  is a welcome sign, but with demand outstripping resources, basic clean drinking water, sanitation, shelter, health care and education have been in very short supply.

The partnership between MasterCard and the United Nations is meant to provide a more meaningful solution to the problem by not only supporting sustainable farming practices, but also working to develop programs where the fruits of that aid can also provide sustainable returns.

More stories …
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This article is from the Council's Compassionate Cities initiative which highlights how city leaders and other stakeholders can leverage smart technologies to end suffering in their communities and give all citizens a route out of poverty. Click the Compassionate Cities box on our registration page to receive our weekly newsletter.

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