The Impact of Unconditional Cash Transfers on Households’ Food Security in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands in Kenya

This study investigated the impact of regular Unconditional Cash Transfers (UCT) on household’s food security in arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) in Kenya. Using Propensity Score Matching (PSM), the study assessed the Average Treatment Effect on the Treated (ATET) for two key food security outcomes. To demonstrate robustness of the study findings, the study employed three matching methods on the 2022 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) data to estimate the impact of the Inua Jamii programme on the beneficiaries. The study focused on 3,444 households from the arid region and 6,182 households from the semi-arid region. The study specifically analyzed data from households that either received the UCT (treatment group) or did not receive the UCT (control group). The results show that cash transfers had a positive impact on food consumption in ASALs. In the arid lands, beneficiaries on average experienced an increase in their food consumption score by 3.4 per cent. In the semi-arid lands, beneficiaries on average increased food consumption score by 1.4 per cent, though not statistically significant. However, cash transfers did not significantly improve households' coping strategies during food shortages in the arid region, where the coping strategy index score on average increased by 2.9 per cent. In the semi-arid region, the coping strategy index score decreased on average by 6.8 per cent, indicating progress towards the use of less destructive coping strategies during food shortages. Expanding unconditional cash transfer programmes in arid regions to cover more households is imperative. However, it requires other complementary interventions and continuous monitoring. Collaboration between the government and donors is crucial in formulating effective crisis management strategies in arid and semi-arid areas. In semi-arid regions, where cash transfers did not significantly influence food consumption, there is need to adjust the transfer value and programme efficiency.