The Kenya Equity in Education Project: cash transfers for education in prolonged refugee contexts

Women & girls

The Kenya Equity in Education Project: cash transfers for education in prolonged refugee contexts

KEEP school girls

Girls benefiting from CCTs in Kenya studying.

WUSC and partners ensure Conditional Cash Transfers are delivered, encouraging girls to stay in school for as long as possible.

Contact details

Submitted by: Stephanie McBride, Education Advisor

Email: [email protected]




Introduction to the project


Kenya - Kakuma and Dadaab Refugee Camps and surrounding host communities




In Kenya, World University Service of Canada (WUSC) has been working with local partner organizations to deliver conditional cash transfers (CCTs) to marginalized girls, including refugee girls, who struggle to attend school regularly.  An early impact assessment found that refugee and host community households alike expressed a strong preference for CCTs, as opposed to direct delivery of goods. Studies emerging from Kalobeyei Settlement shows that cash-based assistance enhances self-reliance and household savings.

This project offsets the financial barriers to attending school and encourages regular attendance. CCTs give girls and their families more agency to decide how they need to spend money within the household to ensure that all children, especially girls, get a chance to attend school. Girls indicated that their parents or guardians are consulting them on the use of CCTs, which shows promising signs that girls are strengthening their voices, and negotiating power, within the family. They therefore become more involved in financial decisions at the household level and are building a sense of confidence and leadership.

The most common uses of CCTs are sanitary wear, stationary, uniforms, food, and firewood. Participants confirmed that girls usually prioritize expenditure for their own educational needs first, then support their siblings’ educational needs. Finally, other common household needs are addressed with remaining funds.

The delivery of CCTs through WUSC’s program also specifically targets female heads of household. When girls are underage, parents or guardians are selected to receive CCTs on behalf of the family. These conditional cash transfers have significantly expanded financial inclusion of marginalized women due to the requirement to have a bank account, and therefore indirectly further supports self-reliance.

This intervention is an example of how age, gender, disability, and other diversity consideration can be integrated in programming that focuses on refugees, and how education-focused interventions can be replicated and broadened in scale. 

Project aims

CCTs have been delivered as part of the Kenya Equity in Education Project (KEEP), which is funded by the Girls’ Education Challenge, an initiative of the Government of the United Kingdom. KEEP is jointly implemented by WUSC and Windle International Kenya.

KEEP aims to create the conditions for learning that will allow approximately 20,000 marginalized girls from Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps, and the surrounding host communities, to stay in school for as long as possible.  The main goal being that they attain at least functional literacy and numeracy, be safe and supported at school and at home, and make successful transitions at critical life stages.

The CCTs' aim to directly reduce economic barriers to education and to increase attendance, retention in school, and transition to the next grade level for vulnerable girls

Resources used

  • Financial resources to support the value amounts of the CCTs themselves
  • Human and technical resources to support the design of the CCTs software system and to design the monitoring framework for CCTs


  • Windle International Kenya
  • Charlie Goldsmith Associates
  • Girls’ Education Challenge of the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development

How challenges were overcome

A early impact assessment of CCTs conducted by WUSC indicate that the roll-out is proceeding well, but also indicated many areas for follow-up and improvement:

  • Communication with beneficiaries about the CCTs needs to be improved. Many respondents were not clear on why they had been selected for the transfers, aside from a general sense of necessity: WUSC is rolling out a new training and a variety of communication tools (hotlines, pamphlets…) to more clearly communicate with beneficiaries.
  • Explore additional payment options (other than bank cards) to improve ease of access for beneficiaries: WUSC is in discussions with partners in Kenya to see if mobile money transfers can be rolled out to refugee beneficiaries in accordance with Kenyan legislation. This option is currently used for transfers to host community populations.
  • WUSC must also continue to conduct monitoring (both quantitative and qualitative) to ensure that CCTs harmless and are not creating additional risks for girls and their families.

Results of the Good Practice 

  • Over 2,500 girls and their families will receive access to financial assistance to reduce economic barriers to education.
  • Improved access to financial institutions for refugee households (90% of recipients are women).
  • Enhanced participation in household decision-making for vulnerable refugee and host community girls. They are increasingly able to negotiate within the family for resources and support for their education-related needs.

WUSC will continue to implement CCTs through the Kenya Equity in Education Project until it ends in 2023. WUSC is rolling out the delivery of CCTs in other contexts. 

Four girls sitting at their desk studying
Two girls sitting at their desk in a classroom studying