Smart Card technology

Smart Card technology

SOS Children has partnered with a Kenya-based company to provide an electronic “smart” card that allows families affected by the current drought and famine to obtain food and cash directly from local shops. Piloting a new form of more efficient aid, the card has so far been a success.

The smart card program is currently running in three stores in Kenya’s northern town of Marsabit. The card-based system is designed to increase the efficiency and reduce the cost of aid distribution to needy households. International NGOs that rely solely on cash have often encountered complications such as misappropriation of funds and high transportation costs from food supplies brought from faraway sources.

Nearly 2,000 families are currently using the card, which provides funds directly to the individual through a transaction system that can be monitored in real-time from SOS Children's headquarters in Kenya.

The cards can only be used by approved card holders to buy essential items at SOS-approved food outlets, which have received Paystream point-of-service devices to process the card-based payments. SOS Children has educated the community about how the system works, the money that each card holds, and the kind of food eligible to purchase from participating stores.  “We are delighted to partner with SOS Children and to be able to come up with a safe, reliable card-based solution to help food aid get to the right people,” said Sam Ndegwa, CEO of Paystream Limited.

The new system is the result of hard work between SOS Children in Kenya, community elders, government authorities, and shop owners, who were keen to ensure that families receiving food aid are able to access food items quickly, safely, and efficiently.

As well as benefiting the families, for SOS Children, the cards will significantly reduce the time and effort previously required to ensure that funds go where they are most needed.

Throughout East Africa, SOS Children continue to respond to drought and famine by providing health services, food and water to the hungry in villages and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps throughout Somalia, and to refugees in Kenya and Ethiopia. Read more about our East Africa Famine Relief and how you can help.