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Kenya Cash Transfer for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (CT-OVC) Project

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Kenya Cash Transfer for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (CT-OVC) Project

Social Safety Net for Orphans and Vulnerable Children
Cash Transfer for Orphans and Vulnerable Children Programme in Kenya


The Cash Transfer for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (CT-OVC) Project, approved in 2009, expanded the pilot CT-OVC Programme from 47,000 households caring for OVC in Kenya to around 83,000 households (increasing the coverage of OVC from around 140,000 to 250,000). Early evidence suggests that the program is having a significant impact on poverty reduction, school enrollment and birth registration for OVC. Using IDA resources, innovative technology is being introduced to transfer payments to beneficiaries in a faster and more secure way than was previously possible.



In 2009, there were approximately 2.4 million OVC living in Kenya (representing almost 30 percent of the total number of children living in poverty), and approximately 600,000 of those lived in extremely poor households. The living conditions of OVC have made it difficult to provide them with basic services. For example, according to the Kenya Integrated Household Budget Survey 2005/6, only 85 percent of children who lost one or both parents were attending school, compared to 93 percent of other children. The OVC also tended to start school at a later age and drop out earlier than other children. Although about 82 percent of children aged 0-4 years had birth registration documents, the majority of the remaining children who were unregistered were orphans. The number of OVC has been continuously rising in Kenya, mainly because of the widespread problem of HIV/AIDS.


This project was designed to increase social safety net access for extremely poor OVC households, through an effective and efficient expansion of the government’s CT-OVC Programme. The project provides technical assistance to strengthen the government’s capacity to manage the CT-OVC Programme at national, provincial, district and local levels. The project also focuses on improving governance and accountability through the implementation of awareness campaigns, a communication strategy, and enhanced oversight and accountability mechanisms (including spot checks and citizens’ scorecards). A new payment delivery mechanism has been selected to offer a cost-effective, efficient, accessible, accountable and secure system for the delivery of the cash payments. The project will also test the extent to which cash transfers can promote the use of education and health services for OVC. To create incentives for caregivers to comply with the co-responsibilities (such as sending the OVC to school and making sure they are fully vaccinated), the program has introduced penalties for non-compliance in some of the districts. An external evaluation will assess the impact of these penalties, as well as evaluate project impact, and operational efficiency of the management of the CT-OVC Programme.


  • When the pilot project ended in 2007, around 4,700 households were receiving cash transfers in 7 districts (reaching approximately 14,000 OVC) and an external impact evaluation showed initial positive results on poverty indicators, school enrollment and birth registration. At the start of the support from IDA and other partners in 2009, the program had expanded to reach 47,000 households. By March 2011, the program has reached about 83,000 households in 47 districts.
  • It is estimated that over 245,000 OVC and about 40 percent of the total number of OVC living in extreme poverty are being supported by the program in March 2011.


Akiya Ahmed, 49, is a widow, who lives in a single room in Kibera with her last born 19 year old daughter, her five grandchildren (two of whom are orphans) and her mother, Kadara. Thanks to the CT-OVC Program administered by the Department of Children’s Services, Akiya’s late daughter’s children Malaasen, 18 and Husna, 14, are able to go to school. Malaasen is in her third year of secondary school at Lang’ata High School and Husna is in grade four at Kibera Primary School. Akiya and her family have been benefitting from the program since 2007 and receives Kshs 3,000 (equivalent of around US$37), every two months. She says that the bulk of the transfer goes to paying school fees and rent.

Bank Contribution

An IDA credit of US$50 million was approved in March 2009. Of this amount, US$10 million was allocated to policy development and institutional strengthening and US$40 million was allocated to the delivery of the cash transfers.


There has been a strong partnership with the Government of Kenya (GoK), the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) since the pilot phase. During the life of the project (fiscal year (FY) 2010-13), the total estimated cost of the program is US$126 million; the GoK is contributing US$30 million, DFID is contributing US$34 million and UNICEF and SIDA are contributing US$12 million. Joint review and implementation support missions are being undertaken with all the development partners supporting the program. In addition, a multi-donor trust fund has been set up by the World Bank, channeling the DFID funds supporting the program.

Toward the Future

The program is affordable and sustainable, with a projected decrease in administrative costs from 40 percent in the pre-pilot phase to about 25 percent by 2012. A further decrease is possible with economies of scale and increased program efficiency as the program expands. The program has been gradually expanding since the pre-pilot in 2004, and the GoK commitment has increased dramatically with almost a tenfold increase from 2006 to 2009. In FY10, the program was projected to cost around US$26 million, the equivalent of 0.08 percent of nominal gross domestic product (GDP) or 0.31 percent of GoK expenditure and net lending. A full-scale program of around 100,000 households would cost about US$32-35 million per year, equaling only 0.07 percent of nominal GDP and 0.28 percent of GoK expenditure and net lending. These costs are considered affordable.

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