Cash-Based Interventions (CBI)

General Information on UNHCR Cash Assistance Programs

UNHCR’s CBI offers vital assistance to refugees and asylum-seekers, empowering them to meet their needs in a dignified and flexible manner. By providing financial support directly to those in need, CBIs allow beneficiaries to prioritize their expenditures according to their specific needs, whether it be for food, shelter, education, or healthcare. This approach not only supports the autonomy of refugees and asylum-seekers but also contributes to the local economy by utilizing local markets and services. Our cash assistance programs in the Kalobeyei Settlement and Kakuma Camps are delivered through partnerships with Equity Bank and KCB Bank, respectively. To ensure accurate delivery of cash entitlements, it’s crucial that any changes in address or location are updated in UNHCR’s database. This facilitates a smooth process for opening and managing bank accounts through a UNHCR-facilitated process, ensuring timely and secure payments.

Five cash grants are currently being disbursed to refugees and asylum-seekers namely:

  • Shelter latrine grants for selected/targeted families in Kalobeyei Settlement to construct permanent shelters
  • Hygiene Items (sanitary pads) are small amounts paid to all women within the reproductive age bracket (11-50 years). Considering the reduced funding UNHCR will provide cash assistance for this programme for the six months only in 2024.
  • Energy grants (firewood) targeting persons with disability, elderly, and individuals with mental health issues.
  • Cash for Education for selected students on Secondary Education Scholarship. Cash grant for Education includes educational/school supplies, pocket money stipend, and transport – disbursed through students’ accounts at Equity Bank. This Scolarship programme is being gradually taken over by the government through the Secondary School Elimu Scholarships.
  • Voluntary Repatriation cash grants as a pre-departure package to cover basic needs on arrival in the country of origin for refugees and Asylum seekers willing to return (currently only to Burundi). $50 cash per person distributed physically by Equity Bank on the day of departure. This is in addition to any assistance provided by UNHCR in the receiving country.

Cash for Shelter and Latrines.

Cash for Shelter: This is a grant disbursed to refugee families in Kalobeyei who have been assessed by the UNHCR multi-functional team (MFT) to convert their temporary shelters into permanent housing which is in compliance with the parameters developed by UNHCR and partners. NOTE: Child-headed households who qualify for shelter will be reached directly or through foster parents following assessment by UNHCR’s child protection partner, TDH.

What should refugees and asylum-seekers buy with the cash? The cash is for materials for a house, a household latrine, and for labour. Ideally, the targeted families buy construction materials, contribute unskilled labour (for those able to do so), and manage labourers. UNHCR through a partner provides water for construction purposes.

Why are transfer values different? Transfer value for cash for shelter varies primarily by household size as follows:

  • Household size 1 to 5 qualifies for one standard shelter
  • Household size 6 to10 qualifies for one double shelter or two standard shelters
  • Household size 11+ qualifies for double shelter + one standard shelter

How much CBI will I receive for the house? The amounts of cash to be transferred are guided by the cost of a standard shelter and a double shelter summarized in the table below.


Shelter Type Timber & Iron Sheet Need 1st






Total KSH
Standard 34,500 65,500 53,500 153,500
Timber 34,500 65,500 63,840 163,840
Timber & Iron sheets 34,500 66,500 63,840

+ Iron Sheet(s) Cost*


+ Iron Sheet(s) Cost*

Double Timber 66,000 110,500 104,400 280,900
Timber & Iron Sheets 66,000 110,500 104,400

+ Iron Sheet(s) Cost*


+ Iron Sheet(s) Cost*

* The number of iron sheets needed varies from 1-18 for standard and 1-36 for double shelters. This need is assessed per family, allocating KES 1,266 for each iron sheet.

Shelter grants are disbursed in three instalments based on the stage of construction. This is because cash for shelter is a conditional cash grant with the restriction of using these funds only for shelter construction materials.

What about the cash for latrine? The cash for the latrine is disbursed in two installments. (a) First Installment: 5,000 (issued with shelter’s 1st installment) and (b) Second Installment: 19,000 (issued with the shelter’s second installment). Only once the latrine is completed can families receive the third installment for shelter.

Latrine 1st






Total KSH
5,500 19,000 24,500

Adjustments: The transfer values may be adjusted based on other technical considerations such as the status of materials that can be reused from the temporary shelter being converted and/or other protection considerations such as household composition, etc. UNHCR regulary monitors market prices to ensure the assistance amounts reflect current costs accurately. UNHCR will inform recipients about any changes in their assistance amounts before the commencement of each support cycle. This communication ensures that beneficiaries are well-informed about the financial support they can expect, allowing for better planning and utilization of the funds provided.

Cash Grants for Hygiene Items (sanitary pads)

Important update: considering the funding constraints and the increasing population of both Kakuma and Kalobeyei, UNHCR will provide cash assistance for this programme for the six months only in 2024.

This assistance is disbursed into refugees’ and asylum-seekers’ bank accounts, to households with women of reproductive age (11-50 years). The transfer values depend on the number of women of in this age bracket in each household and are guided by the local price, and the monthly allocation of the in-kind support that UNHCR used to provide.

How were transfer values for Hygiene Items determined? The monthly transfer value is based on the local price for a 8-pack sanitary pad which is commonly found on the local market at KES 100.

Cash for Energy (firewood) grants: 

This assistance targets persons with disability, elderly, and individuals with mental health issues to purchase firewood or other fuel energy of their choice.

 What about Child Headed Households (CHH) and Unaccompanied Minors (UAM)? CHHs (under the age of 18) cannot receive cash given because as children they cannot open bank accounts in Kenya. UAMs who are in the same household as their foster parent or have a verified care arrangement can receive cash through their foster parent. Other children in child-headed households will receive hygiene items as in-kind assistance.




Cash Payments, Delivery Mechanisms, and Distribution Modalities

How is the cash transferred? Cash is delivered through household/case-linked bank accounts which are opened through the facilitation by UNHCR at Equity Bank for Kalobeyei Settlement and some refugees in Kakuma Refugee Camps, and through KCB for most refugees in Kakuma Refugee Camps. Only UNHCR-facilitated bank accounts captured in the UNHCR database can be used for CBI payments. Once payments are done a message of notification is shared on various platforms accessed by refugees and asylum-seekers. 

Who is the account holder and custodian of the ATM card? Each household is entitled to one free ATM card issued in the name of the custodian of the bank account who is the focal point (HR1).

What about refugees and asylum-seekers without bank accounts? UNHCR facilitates the opening of new bank accounts for new arrivals after the first GFD/POL attended, and changes in focal point or designated account custodian in the household. Once an SMS is received from UNHCR, refugee should approach the relevant bank branch to collect the ATM card. In case of any issues or ambiguties, you can contact UNHCR by approaching the closest field post.

Do Refugees and Asylum-Seekers’ Data Need Updating? To receive the right entitlement, your data should be up to date in the UNHCR database. Therefore, you are required to attend the Proof of Life exercise (PoL) or the General Food Distribution as well as update your household information including change of focal point, registration of new-borns, activation, and inactivation of individuals in the household, by visiting UNHCR field posts or writing an email to [email protected].

Can inactivated cases/individuals access CBI? If an individual is inactive, he or she is not eligible for cash assistance. If a household is new or needs to be reactivated or there are changes in the household membership such as new-born(s), or new family members e.g., family reunification, relocation, resettlement, voluntary repatriation, etc, such changes will only be valid for CBI payments after being updated in UNHCR’s database.

Lost, damaged, or stolen ATM cards? The first ATMs are issued by the banks at UNHCR’s cost, while a replacement fee of KES 500 will apply for card replacements. If your ATM card is lost, or stolen, it’s important to act quickly to protect your funds:

  1. Report Immediately: Contact Equity Bank or KCB Bank as soon as possible to report the lost, or stolen card.
  2. Replacement Process: Follow the bank’s instructions for replacing your card. A replacement fee of KES 500 will apply.
  3. UNHCR Notification: Seek support from UNHCR if you need additional support and guidance through the replacement process.

How are ATM cards protected? ATM cards are protected with a confidential Personal Identification Number (PIN). The refugees’/asylum seekers’ ATM card is their personal property, and the PIN is a secret number. Therefore, as a security measure, ATM cards or PINs should not be shared with anyone including traders/suppliers to avoid loss of funds.

Cash Access and Utilization

What are the Charges for accessing and using cash disbursed through Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB)? (Kakuma)

To access the funds through KCB, the following apply:

  • Withdraw the cash at the bank agents, the first withdrawal is free, up to a maximum of KES 5,000.
  • Withdraw over the counter; the first withdrawal is free, up to a maximum of KES, 5,000.
  • Withdraw from the Bank ATM; KES 30 charge per withdrawal apply.
  • Direct purchase from a merchant point of sale (POS); is free of charge.

Any extra withdrawal will attract a fee of KES 100 per transaction. Refugees and asylum-seekers are therefore encouraged to make one transaction/withdrawal at the bank agents or over the counter per month or make direct purchases from a merchant Point of Sale (POS) to avoid the KES 100 fee.

What are the Charges for accessing and using cash disbursed through Equity bank? (Kalobeyei)

To access the funds through Equity bank the following apply:

  • Direct purchases from a merchant point of sale (POS) are free.
  • Withdrawal from the bank’s ATM attracts a transaction fee of KES 36.
  • Withdrawal over the counter at bank branches in Kakuma or Kalobeyei attracts a transaction fee of KES 120.
  • Withdrawal intra-branch (at other branches) over the counter attracts a transaction fee of KES 180.
  • Withdrawals at Agents attract a withdrawal fee tiered by the value to be accessed and this ranges from KES 30 to KES 270 depending on the volume of cash withdrawn. The second withdrawal from agent after delivery of UNHCR cash support, is free of charge for the refugees. Any additional withdrawals will have an agent fee of KES 30 to KES 270 depending on the volume of cash withdrawn.

Each household receiving assistance through an Equity bank account will receive an extra KES 30 for each UNHCR transfer to cover the first withdrawal costs through agents.

Does the cash received expire? The bank accounts are full-fledged, and refugees and asylum seekers can transact with funds from other sources including remittances and savings. Yet, if the bank account remains inactive for more than 6 months and the family does not attend the Proof of Life exercise (PoL) and the General Food Distribution, UNHCR may revert the assistance amount. Account holders or family members of the account holder can appeal this decision by approaching UNHCR. UNHCR will follow up on appeals on an individual basis to determine the cause for dormancy/inactivity and advise the bank on appropriate action.

Should a refugee or asylum-seeker pay anyone for accessing his/her cash or for utilizing it? No! All UNHCR services are free of charge. Refugees and asylum-seekers are not supposed to pay an extra charge to the bank, supplier, partner, or UNHCR staff to access cash assistance for any of the objectives or to supply goods and services. If anyone requests for payments, that is fraud. UNHCR has zero tolerance for fraud, corruption, and misconduct. All allegations of fraud & corruption must be reported.



Where do refugees and asylum-seekers report or raise complaints about CBI?

Refugees and Asylum-seekers can contact UNHCR for questions or report any complaints through the below means:

  • General Questions or Complaints: You can visit UNHCR field posts to file any issues in person, specifying if your issue or complaint regards CBI. Alternatively, you can direct complaints to Kakuma Protection at [email protected], or use the Kenya-wide Helpline: 1517 (Toll-Free), email [email protected].
  • Fraud Allegations: Email [email protected] to report fraud allegations. This email is managed by a dedicated section in UNHCR Kenya and your reports remain confidential.
  • Misconduct by Staff: Report any misconduct by UNHCR or partner staff directly to the Inspector General’s Office via email [email protected], the confidential fax +41 22739 7380, or the complaint form at You can check org/inspector-generals-office.html for more information.

For issues related to bank accounts, contact Equity Bank: 0763068165 or KCB Bank: 0711852534