Emergency Livelihoods Recovery Intervention in Kenya
The Emergency Livelihoods Recovery Intervention (ELRI) project was a 12-month initiative targeting Fafi District in northeastern Kenya. The climate in Kenya’s north eastern province is semi-arid and hot, and the population suffers from cyclical droughts. The people affected by the last severe drought have very few assets left and are at risk of losing their livelihoods. Their traditional coping mechanisms – including reliance on social support networks and credit systems – are stretched beyond reasonable limits. Water is also extremely scarce, and a lack of access to safe water is increasing the risk of waterborne disease. There is also little knowledge about hygiene and sanitation practices, and how this relates to the transmission of diseases.
The ELRI program addressed the short-term needs of the local population, as well as the long-term needs to help protect communities from future shocks. It included Cash Relief, as well as Cash for Work projects to build water infrastructure like wells and water pans. This means what rain does fall is properly stored. We also helped the communities learn about hygiene and sanitation, which helps people keep their families healthy.
Our work in NE Kenya has had many positive effects. More than 14,000 people boosted their income thanks to ELRI’s cash transfers, enabling them to secure food and recover assets. Our work to improve infrastructure and education around water and hygiene has seen a significant improvement in sanitation and a decrease in diarrhea and dysentery.
An interesting outcome of the ELRI program was the effect it had on the female population. Many of the men in the villages had gone away with their livestock in search of pasture, which meant it as the women who took part in the Cash for Work activities. This had a number of positive repercussions: it gave them the opportunity to prove to the community they could engage in physical activities; it gave them the ability to purchase goods and services (“without asking the husband”); and it gained them respect for working and earning cash.