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article imageGiveDirectly charity provides free cash to extreme poor in Kenya

By Nancy Houser     Oct 25, 2013 in World
Sending money directly to the poorest of poor in Kenya through their cellphones or is a dream come true ... for many. A charity called GiveDirectly has begun doing that very thing, giving struggling people in Kenya some help with no-strings attached.
GiveDirectly is a different type of charity. Cash is sent through cell phones and an M-Pesa agent, from $500 to $1,000. Personal donations are transferred electronically to a recipient's cellphone, with the recipient using the cash to pursue personal goals of his or her own choice.
The charity focuses on five steps:
(1) Census data is used in Kenya regions with the highest poverty rates.
(2) Villages are chosen with low-quality housing and access to a M-Pesa agent for sending and receiving money hassle-free.
(3) The poorest households are identified within the chosen village. Selected homes are made of mud, wood and grass.
(4) Cell phone numbers for the household are registered. If this is unavailable, a SIM card is provided and registered in their name.
(5) Recipients are audited 100%, with the average person living on 65 cents a day; 18% of households have food for the next day. Chosen households for GiveDirectly earn 45% less than neighbors who are not eligible.
Cash in hand can make a difference to the poor and how they can improve on their lives, whether it is in Kenya or somewhere else. But in Kenya, leaky grass roofs are being replaced by pricey metal roofs that can last close to ten years. Others have used it for a dowry, allowing a couple to marry. And others have started businesses, a lifelong dream that benefits themselves and their village.
Kenya, according to the World Bank, has failed a poverty reduction test. They estimate that Kenya's poverty level will be close to one-third of the population in 2030.
Kenya is on track to becoming the bedrock of poverty in East Africa, ahead of politically fragile Burundi, a new World Bank report says ... Tanzania, whose leading export is currently gold, will have 19 per cent of its citizens living below the poverty line by the same year.
Mother and child in Kenya drought.
Mother and child in Kenya drought.
IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation/TURKEY
image:94175:0::0
GiveDirectly has chosen another country to assist, but has requested it be confidental until they are registered as an NGO in the country.
"GiveDirectly has allocated $1 million to provide cash transfers in a second country. This funding came from a $2.4 million Google Global Impact Award that GiveDirectly received, of which $190,000 was designated specifically to underwrite the fixed costs of setting up operations in a second country."
The charity has already chosen a district and sub-county within the country for its first set of transfers. What has been considered are the area's poverty rates, density, security, its proximity to Western Kenya, cell phone network coverage, and mobile money penetration. But at the head of the target area are mud and thatch households with dirt floors.
A one of its kind, traditional charities refuse to accept that cash with no strings attached will ever work. They feel the money will be abused by the world's poor. However, this year alone approximately five million dollars will be given away to the world's poor in underdeveloped countries.
However, records show no abuse of the no-strings cash aid. Food is purchased for more than one day, roofs and homes are rebuilt, clothing is purchased, children are receiving an education, and businesses are started to help the villages.
More about GiveDirectly, GiveDirectly charity, charity provides free cash, free cash to extreme poor, extreme poor in Kenya
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