The Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP) is an unconditional Government cash transfer programme implemented by the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) in eight poorest and arid counties, namely; Turkana, Wajir, Mandera, Marsabit, Garissa, Tana River, Isiolo, and Samburu.

HSNP is one of four cash transfer programmes under the National Safety Net Programme (NSNP) collectively called Inua Jamii. The other three programmes are;

(i) Older Persons Cash Transfer.
(ii) Cash Transfers for Orphans and Vulnerable Children.
(iii) Persons with Severe Disability Cash Transfer.

The NDMA is responsible for implementing HSNP, while the Social Assistance Unit under the State Department of Social Protection in the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection manages the other three programmes.

Programme objective

The programme’s main objective is to deliver regular and emergency cash transfers.

Core objectives;

1. To ensure effective, financially secure, and well-targeted use of safety net and cash transfer programmes to support some of the most vulnerable and poor in Kenya.
2. Implement a scaled-up, integrated, effective Government-led, and financed safety net programme.

Programme background
HSNP Phase I was a pilot implemented between 2009 and 2013. It benefited 68,621 households. The first payment was made in February 2009. The programme was implemented by a consortium of NGOs responsible for different components, namely; Save-the-Children, Care and Oxfam coordinated by the HSNP Secretariat under the Ministry of State for Development of Northern Kenya and Other Arid Lands. Funding was provided by DFID and AusAID. The Government hosted the Secretariat, provided policy direction, and facilitated work on the ground.

The second phase of the HSNP started in July 2013 and ran until March 2019, building on the gains and lessons learned during the first phase. HSNP II continued to provide a safety net for the chronically poor in the same four counties (Mandera, Wajir, Marsabit and Turkana) by making regular and predictable cash transfers to 101,800 vulnerable households.

The design of the HSNP II provided for scale-up (emergency payments) during climate-related disasters such as drought and flooding. A further 273,006 beneficiaries were eligible for scale-up payments.

In January 2019, the Kenya Government and the World Bank signed a Financing Agreement for the implementation of the Kenya Social and Economic Empowerment Project (KSEIP), which consolidates all cash transfer programmes.

HSNP III is implemented using a Disbursement Linked Indicators (DLI) framework for results, under which the World Bank is expected to release funds to the National Treasury upon achievement of pre-agreed targets as defined in the Financing Agreement. Funding is through Government contribution, a grant from FCDO, and a loan from the World Bank’s International Development Association.

Under KSEIP, the third phase of HSNP, which started in April 2019, continues operating in the four existing counties i.e. Marsabit, Turkana, Wajir, and Mandera. Currently, 101,800 households in the four counties are covered under the regular cash transfers. HSNP further expanded to four additional drought-affected counties – Garissa, Isiolo, Samburu, and Tana River – where it will provide regular cash transfers to approximately 32,000 additional households under regular cash transfers.

Approximately two-thirds of these households are headed by women.

Cash transfer beneficiary groups

HSNP beneficiaries are households and not individuals. Each beneficiary household has a unique registration identification. The cash transfer recipient is a member of the household who has a national identity card. Households with unique characteristics such as orphans and the very old are allowed to use proxy recipients identified through the HSNP Case Management procedures.
All beneficiaries have bank accounts that are linked to debit cards operated through biometrics.

The beneficiaries receiving regular payments are referred to as Group 1 while those who occasionally receive shock-responsive payments (scalability) are commonly known as Group 2.
Shock responsive payments or scale-ups are triggered by the Vegetation Condition Index (VCI) against set thresholds which determine the number of beneficiaries and target sub-counties.

Programme Management Unit (PMU)
HSNP is implemented with the support of a Programme Management Unit (PMU) within the NDMA. The Unit is also mandated to strengthen the capacity of the NDMA to take on full responsibility for HSNP in due course.

Payment Service Provider
In 2019, NDMA successfully procured the services of Equity Bank Kenya Limited as the cash transfer payment service provider for HSNP III. The bank has established agents across the programme counties to ensure that recipients can access services within a radius of 10km. Equity Bank is responsible for the physical transfer of cash into beneficiary accounts, reconciliation, and reporting on the same.

Cash transfer value
The current cash transfer value is Ksh2,700 per month per household for both group 1 and Group 2 beneficiaries. However, HSNP Group 1 beneficiaries receive Ksh5,400 per household every two months while Group 2 beneficiaries receive their monthly stipend of Kshs2,700 when a drought or shock is triggered.

Cash transfer payments
Delivery of cash under HSNP is through a fully operational bank account with an ATM Mastercard card. The cash transfer value is revised upwards periodically over time to align the programme with the realities of inflation. Routine beneficiaries are paid after every two months in what is referred to as a payment cycle. Cash is deposited to the household’s bank account on the fifth of the first month of the payment cycle. To access cash a beneficiary will either present an ATM Card at Equity’s payment agents within their sub-location and access the account biometrically or over the counter of their local bank branch or any Equity branch.

Emergency Scale-ups

A unique feature of HSNP is its ability to expand coverage during times of drought or any other emergency like flooding by disbursing emergency cash transfers to additional vulnerable households beyond the regular cash transfer beneficiaries. The scalability of cash transfers provides a fast and effective response to large proportions of the population. Timely scaling up and down of cash payments before situations deteriorate has been shown to be more effective and cost-efficient than initiating ad hoc emergency relief responses.

HSNP shock responsive cash transfer is determined by the NDMA drought status triggered by the Vegetation Condition Index (VCI) classified as extreme drought (less than 10), severe drought (10-20), moderate drought (20-30), and no drought (35 and above). During drought, each sub-county is allocated a number of households eligible for scale-ups depending on drought status

Registration of beneficiaries for HSNP III
Registration for potential beneficiaries under HSNP III used a modified version of the harmonised targeting mechanism, a tool that was developed to support targeting across Social Protection Programmes in Kenya. Registration is voluntary and all households willing to be registered are enrolled in the HSNP database.

Registration data includes information on;

• Geographic locations of households (especially GPS coordinates).
• Demographic profiles (name, age, gender, ID, education, employment, disability) assets and other information including pictures of the household.

Quotas for routine beneficiary numbers per county
County quotas have been set by taking the total national allocation to HSNP and allocating it to the HSNP counties using a modification of the Kenya Commission for Revenue Allocation (CRA) resources allocation formula. This splits the quotas as follows; 26% as an equal share; 34% according to population size; and 40% using the extreme poverty rate.

Beneficiary Targeting

A two-pronged selection criterion was employed during beneficiary targeting namely;

• Proxy Mean Test (PMT) – Electronic selection of beneficiaries based on set predetermined socio-economic parameters to generate a household Livelihood Condition Score (HLCS)
• Community-based validation – Communities and the village interrogate the register after the PMT to identify and rectify any inclusion errors, exclusion errors, and missed households

Beneficiary targeting is complete in the pioneer counties of Marsabit, Mandera, Wajir, and Turkana. In the expansion counties of Garissa, Tana River, Samburu, and Isiolo, there is a rolling over registration and targeting process in a location.

Case management
HSNP has a decentralised case management system to enable beneficiaries to register their complaints and issues on updates in their Counties. The case management system aims at ensuring beneficiaries receive their cash transfers as planned. The CMS is highly integrated with and supported by the MIS. The MIS is used to track complaints and to manage the resolution process, by sending the complaint to the appropriate user/officer through each stage of the resolution process. Updates and complaints can be generated by beneficiaries, Chiefs, BWCs, or any other community member and submitted to the NDMA County office.

To log a case or follow an update, one can send SMS to 21801 or call 0800720727 or register on the HSNP Case Management booklet available within the sub-locations at chiefs and assistant chief’s offices.


The Programme has developed a robust communications strategy to mobilise, educate and sensitise stakeholders and communities that are central to the success of the programme.

The Communications Strategic objectives are:

– To develop an understanding of, and support for HSNP as an effective way to target chronic poverty and combat acute threats to livelihoods in ASALs.
– To support the cash transfer process for households in through consistent, timely and practical information on accessing HSNP payments.
– To raise awareness of the beneficiary grievances and complaints procedure, user rights and opportunities.

Communications on payments are made through the HSNP field communications model where the Chiefs and Assistant Chiefs are at the center of grassroots communications.

Monitoring and evaluation
Regular monitoring, learning and evaluation of the HSNP is key to: improving programme implementation; ensuring that the programme continues to meet its intended objectives; and provides accountability for the resources used. Much of this programme monitoring and learning is anchored within the systems of the programme including the use of the MIS and regular post-payment monitoring and routine tracking of data to learn to what extent implementation is occurring and progress is being made e.g are the interventions on track or on budget (inputs & activities) or reaching the desired number of HHs (Output)

Periodic evaluation activities are designed ascertain whether the inputs and outputs have produced the desired outcomes and impacts.

An independent evaluation by Oxford Policy Management (OPM) identified the following benefits for beneficiary households:

  • 7% were lifted out of the bottom income decile.
  • 69% increased their expenditure on food and enjoyed a more diverse diet.
  • 20% increased their expenditure on education.
  • During the drought and economic crisis of 2011, poverty did not increase among beneficiary households (as it did among non-beneficiary households).

Disbursement Linked Indicators
HSNP III is implemented under the Program-for-results (PforR) framework that forms the basis upon which World Bank funds are disbursed to the Government and also the monitoring of achievements and progress towards the programme development objective. HSNP has three disbursement linked indicators (DLIs) and a set of disbursement linked results (DLRs) upon which the realisation of the DLI is measured. These are:

DLI 1: Scope, coverage, and functionality of Single Registry enhanced

  • DLR 1b (i): Re-registration exercise in the four original HSNP counties completed and beneficiary list updated accordingly due in June 2020.
  • DLR 1b (ii): Registration of households completed in four expansion HSNP counties due in June 2021.

DLI 5: Increased coverage and Government financing of HSNP

  •  DLR 5b: 100% of existing HSNP households in the original 4 counties financed by the Government by July 2019 due in July 2019.
  •  DLR 5a (i): 10,000 new HSNP households enrolled and paid through the Government’s budget in 2 expansion counties due in June 2022.
  •  DLR 5a (ii): 22,000 new HSNP households enrolled and paid through the Government’s budget in 4 expansion counties due in June 2023.

DLI 6: HSNP scalability and financing arrangements enhanced

  • DLR 6a (i): Financing plan for HSNP scalability for FY19/20 adopted and financed by June 2019
  • DLR 6a (ii): Emergency payments made in FY18/19 for 100% of the total number of households triggered in 4 counties where HSNP is functional by June 2019.
  • DLR 6a (iii): Emergency payments made in FY18/19 for 100% of the total households triggered in 4 counties where HSNP is functional and financing plan for FY20/21 is updated by June 2020.
  • DLR 6b (i): HSNP scalability strategy reviewed, updated and adopted due in June 2020.
  • DLR 6a (iv): Emergency payments made in FY20/21 for 100% of the total number of households triggered in 4 counties where HSNP is functional and financing plan for FY21/22 updated due in June 2021.
  • DLR 6a (v): Emergency payments made in FY21/22 for 100% of the total number of households triggered in 6 counties where HSNP is functional and financing plan for FY22/23 updated due in June 2022.
  • DLR 6b (ii): Midterm review of HSNP scalability strategy complete and recommendations adopted due in June 2022
  • DLR 6a (vi): Emergency payments made in FY22/23 for 100% of the total number of households triggered in 8 counties where HSNP is functional and financing plan for FY23/24 updated and financed due in June 2023.


Find out more here: https://hsnp.or.ke/

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