This case study set out to explore the various sources and volumes of income of the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) as well as the benefits and challenges associated with the various resource streams. Furthermore, the study examined the contribution of the Society to humanitarian assistance in Kenya, considering its auxiliary role to the Government, the extent of its autonomy, its role within the humanitarian system and its relationship with key stakeholders.
While funding from donor national societies made up the largest share of KRCS’s income in 2009 and 2010, 30.8% and 28.5% respectively, funds from income generating activities were not far behind in both years, comprising 26.6% in 2009 and 28.0% in 2010. Although there is some income and expenditure detail in its annual report, the KRCS admits to not knowing the exact income for the whole Society. This is largely due to the fact that domestically raised income at regional and branch level remains uncounted by the headquarters. Furthermore, there may be some double-counting when funds move between branches and headquarters, as well as in the recording of costs recovered from projects. Despite this, being able to calculate the exact income is an aim of the KRCS strategy 2011-2015.
Aside from its smaller ventures, the KRCS has embarked on ambitious enterprises to increase its domestically raised income. These include a private ambulance service (E Plus), now Kenya’s largest ambulance service, and a chain of hotels (Red Court). The hotel business, in particular, is seen as a long-term venture, the fruit of which will be produced in 10 to 15 years. The KRCS believes that the best way to generate domestic income is through property. The fact that the Government of Kenya provides the Society with free land puts it in a good position to pursue this line. Indeed, private funds received by donor societies also contribute, as these funds can be used to refurbish KRCS-owned buildings which can then be rented out, an activity for which it may not be possible to use funds from other sources.
The KRCS is a key humanitarian player in Kenya. The relationship between the Government of Kenya and the KRCS appears to be close, with the Government consulting the KRCS as a matter of course, almost to the point of seeking its consent. Yet despite this, the KRCS will publically criticise the Government when deemed necessary. Food security data in Kenya is currently collected during assessments conducted after each of the two rainy seasons, a process which is often lengthy with results only emerging after some time. Due to its extensive coverage and good mobility, the KRCS has better capacity to collect data than some other organisations. While the Society sometimes receives criticism for the figures it produces, facing claims that they are alarmist, the need to improve the current data means that the KRCS could well have a role to play in improving the quality of information available.