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Policy paper

Cash, Food or Vouchers? An Application of the Market Information and Food Insecurity Response Analysis Framework in Urban and Rural Kenya

2012 — By Hope Michelson, Erin C. Lentz, Richard Mulwa, Mitchell Morey, Laura Cramer, Megan McGlinchy, Christopher B. Barrett

This paper uses the Market Information and Food Insecurity Response Analysis Framework to analyze data on food market intermediation and on consumer behavior and preferences in order to clarify whether market-based cash and voucher programs are likely to prove effective for addressing food insecurity in rural and urban study sites in Kenya. The findings carry important implications for food security interventions by government and operational agencies. We confirm that context matters when undertaking a response analysis. While we find that cash and/or vouchers are appropriate in both urban and rural locations, markets in surveyed urban settlements can respond better to a large injection of cash or vouchers than can surveyed rural areas. Moreover, household vulnerabilities are associated with household preferences in different ways across the two sites. In rural areas, female headed households and households reporting a physical limit to market access were among the groups that strongly preferred food aid to cash or vouchers while households with these characteristics in urban areas preferred the flexibility of cash or vouchers to food.