A fingerprint for success

Friday 1 April 2016

Many adolescent girls in Kenya face considerable risks and vulnerabilities that affect their education, health, and general well-being—including early marriage; teenage pregnancy; early, unprotected, and/or unwanted sexual activity; violence; social isolation; and HIV/STIs.

In the most hard to reach areas of Kenya, delivering support to these girls and monitoring programme impact can be a challenge. Save the Children is using innovative methods and readily available technology to address this.

Biometric technology...how does it work?
In August 2015, Save the Children conducted a biometric registration exercise for 3,000 adolescent girls in 60 schools in Wajir County, North-eastern Kenya. Easy to use and inexpensive equipment will read students fingerprints to record daily attendance. Attendance records from the schools are uploaded and sent to a central server called Salesforce, which collates, consolidates and summarizes the data and identifies students who will meet the conditional threshold of 80% school attendance. “It is amazing how these gadgets work. Though it is a little bit time consuming to register one beneficiary, it will be fairly easy to use it later to mark school attendance as they will just be checking in and out and not going through the whole detailed process” said Muktar Mohamed, one of the research assistants engaged in registering the beneficiaries.

 Samuel Kemboi

How will information be used?
The girls meeting the school attendance threshold will receive a cash transfer twice a term. This will go to their household head, whose biometric details have also been captured and have been linked to their Equity bank account to facilitate electronic household cash transfers. For further motivation, girls meeting the 80% attendance condition will have their school fees paid and their school will also receive an amount to support school operation and improvement initiatives. The biometric system generates reliable data at a much lower cost than other conditional cash transfer initiatives. “The use of this equipment is exciting’’ said the Head Teacher for Argane Primary school regarding how he foresees the use of the gadgets in his school. Whilst he expressed some concerns, saying ‘I am worried about the time it will take to record attendance for all the students participating in this programme, twice a day’, we are confident that he and other teachers will quickly get to grips with the system. Save the Children is exploring the potential for using a similar approach for more effective school attendance monitoring at the school, sub county and county levels.

The project
The Adolescent Girls Initiative–Kenya (AGI–K) will deliver multi-sectoral interventions for 6,000 girls ages 11–14 in two marginalized areas of Kenya: the Kibera slums in Nairobi and Wajir County in Northeastern Kenya. Interventions will run for two years and include a combination of girl-, household- and community-level interventions. The longitudinal research study will compare the impact of four different packages of interventions, combining violence prevention, education, health and wealth creation.

The AGI-K program is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). The project is being implemented by a highly qualified consortium, led by the Population Council in partnership with the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) and Itad as research partners, Save the Children in Kenya is the implementing partner in Wajir County, and Plan International–Kenya is the implementing partner in Kibera.