In light of new government restrictions barring food and non-food distribution throughout the country, our national team in Kenya has requested to use sponsorship grant funds to distribute cash to families directly, using Kenya’s mobile phone cash transfer system.

We are empowering the local church to respond immediately to the most critical needs on the ground due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about this temporary measure:

Why is this happening in Kenya?

The Kenyan government has passed tighter restrictions on food and non-food distribution after a recent event (which was NOT Compassion-related), turned into a civil disturbance where several people were injured. The new regulations require that all food and non-food distributions must be made through the Kenyan government’s COVID-19 emergency Response Fund. However, Compassion cannot guarantee that our children and their families will be consistent, direct beneficiaries of this new system. So we are offering this cash distribution as a way of making sure our children and their families get the help they need, without violating the new government guidelines.

Will we know how money is used?

With the urgent nature of the crisis and the evidence from dozens of rigorous research studies* about direct cash transfers, we are NOT asking for receipts for the use of the cash disbursements.

We are trusting our families will spend cash in ways that best meet their needs during this COVID-19 pandemic. Once the crisis is over, we will research this temporary change in policy to see how effective it was, and make necessary adjustments, should we ever be forced into this position again.

*Research includes: See Bill Wydick’s The Shrewd Samaritan, and these articles: Economist (A, B), ODI Report, Relief Web.

How much cash will family get each month?

The amount will vary per family depending on need (for example, families of Highly Vulnerable Children, HIV positive children, children on Domestic Assistance, etc may require more funds than others.)

Is it going directly to the child or to a care giver?

The money will be transferred directly to the verified parent or caregiver of the child, using Kenya’s mobile phone cash transfer system.

In the past, you said that we don’t pass sponsorship funds/gifts/etc. directly to children or their families because there may be a risk to their safety from doing so. Has the risk changed?

Since the money will be transferred using Kenya’s mobile phone cash transfer system, the risk to the children and their family members is greatly minimized. However, no system of distributing cash is completely risk-free. We are taking this course of action for the following reasons:

  1. The Kenyan government is restricting food/non-food item distribution.
  2. We cannot guarantee that our children and their families will receive the food they need through government distribution programs.
  3. We believe the need is great and we want to do whatever we can to get money into the hands of our families so they can purchase the food and supplies they need to survive.

Is Compassion helping families learn how to budget the increase in income?

We are trusting the caregivers to use the money wisely and assisting our church partners in offering budgeting and shopping tips. Additionally, we are monitoring and evaluating the disbursement system, so we can learn and adjust. Our goal is to help each family make the right decisions and learn from mistakes so they become wise consumers and better providers for their families.

Is this temporary? How long will it last?

This temporary measure is scheduled to remain in place at least until July 15th. At that time, we will evaluate the effort to see if it needs to be adjusted or extended. It is possible the Kenya government could extend the restrictions on food distributions beyond that date as well.


Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns by phone, at 1-800-563-5437, chatting with us on our website, or by email, at


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Written by: Compassion Canada