Save the children (SC) has been operational in Kenya since the 1950s, providing support to children through developmental and humanitarian relief programmes delivered both directly and through local partners. Current programming focuses on child protection, child rights, governance, education, health, HIV/AIDS, livelihoods, nutrition and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). In 2012, as part of a global re-organization process, SC combined the programmes of SC UK, SC Canada, and SC Finland to create a single person operation in Kenya. In February 2014, the organization completed a second transition, which saw it join forces with the British International Non-Governmental Organization (INGO), Merlin, and together they merged their health and nutrition programmes.

Save the children has an operational presence in Bungoma, Dadaab Refuge Camp, Mandera, Turkana and Wajir, and it works through partners in many other parts of the country. The government of Kenya is currently running four social protection cash transfers: Older Persons (OPCT), Persons with Severe Disabilities (CT-PWSD), Orphans and Vulnerable Children (CT-OVC) and the Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP).

The overall objective of the cash transfers is to increase resilience among specific vulnerable groups to reduce poverty and vulnerability. Save the children undertook this qualitative study to understand the impacts of the cash transfers on the life-course of children, including changes in perceived outcomes, and on related issues of gender empowerment. The study was undertaken in the counties of Wajir, Mandera and Turkana, which have elevated levels of poverty and vulnerability with adverse impacts on children. The qualitative evidence from the study was to be used to explore opportunities to influence child-sensitive social protection programming including the allocation of more resources for the expansion of cash transfer schemes to poor households with children. One of the short/ medium-term commitments in the National Social Protection Policy (NSSP, 2012) is that ‘children of poor and vulnerable families will enjoy income security at least at the poverty level through family/ child transfers aimed at helping them to access nutrition, education and healthcare.’

The main purpose of this assignment was to undertake qualitative research on impacts of social cash transfer schemes on the life-course of children in the arid counties of Mandera, Wajir and Turkana. The study participants, both beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries, were positive about the impacts of the cash transfers on their communities. They were full of gratitude towards the donors and the government.

A key component of the assessment was to establish the impact of the cash transfers on the life course of children. The people were of the view that the cash transfers were useful to the children since most of the money transferred was used for their welfare. The discussions indicated that the funds are used to buy food, pay fees, purchase clothing and renovate/ build shelters. However, all the children in a household benefited from the fund even if the funds were targeted to a specific child beneficiary in the case of CT-OVC.

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