Food Security

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 455–469 | Cite as

Cash, food, or vouchers? An application of the Market Information and Food Insecurity Response Analysis Framework in urban and rural Kenya

  • Hope Michelson
  • Erin C. Lentz
  • Richard Mulwa
  • Mitchell Morey
  • Laura Cramer
  • Megan McGlinchy
  • Christopher B. Barrett
Original Paper


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.


Food insecurity Kenya Response analysis Urban food insecurity MIFIRA 



We are grateful to Japheth Muli and Martin Waweru at Catholic Relief Services in Nairobi and our enumerator teams from the Diocese of Machakos and the Archdiocese of Nairobi. Aschelew Tesfaye of the World Food Program, and Justus Liku of CARE provided valuable guidance throughout. The research was funded through a United States Agency for International Development BASIS Assets and Market Access Collaborative Research Support Program grant No. EDH-A-00-06-00003-00. The views expressed are solely the authors’ and do not represent any official agency. Any remaining errors are ours alone.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. & International Society for Plant Pathology 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hope Michelson
    • 1
  • Erin C. Lentz
    • 2
  • Richard Mulwa
    • 3
  • Mitchell Morey
    • 4
  • Laura Cramer
    • 5
  • Megan McGlinchy
    • 6
  • Christopher B. Barrett
    • 7
  1. 1.The Earth Institute, Columbia University, Lamont-Doherty Earth ObservatoryPalisadesUSA
  2. 2.Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and ManagementCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Agricultural EconomicsUniversity of NairobiNairobiKenya
  4. 4.Department of EconomicsUniversity of WisconsinMadisonUSA
  5. 5.NakuruKenya
  6. 6.Catholic Relief ServicesNairobiKenya
  7. 7.Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and ManagementCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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