The impact of child sponsorship on the welfare of beneficiaries: the case of Ivola project, Vihiga county, Kenya.
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Child sponsorship is one of the means by which well-wishers seek to improve standards of living of less fortunate children within affected communities. Although studies have been conducted on the benefits of Child sponsorship projects on host communities from around the world as a form of community development, there is little literature on the role played by child sponsorship projects on the welfare of beneficiaries. Specifically, no such study has been conducted on the Ivola Child Sponsorship Project despite the fact that a lot of resources have gone into the project since its initiation in 1998 in Vihiga County. Consequently, this study sought to examine the impact of Ivola Child Sponsorship Project on the welfare of beneficiaries sponsored under the project. The specific objectives pursued were three: to examine the impact of the Ivola Child Sponsorship Project on beneficiaries’ access to formal education; to evaluate the impact of the project on beneficiaries’ access to health-care; and to assess the impact of the project on the beneficiaries’ access to food while enrolled under the project.. A sample of 330 respondents was purposively selected from a population of 415 project beneficiaries, composed of project ongoing students and alumni. Structured questionnaires, document review, beneficiary and key informant interviews and field-based observation were used to collect data. Validity was ensured through expert reviews while reliability analysis was carried out using Cronbach’s alpha coefficient which revealed a value of 0.87 above threshold value. Quantitative data was analyzed using both descriptive and inferential statistics while qualitative data was transcribed, analyzed and reported. The study found that there was a positive correlation between access to formal education and child sponsorship (r=.522, p=.000), project sponsorship and access to health care (r=.801, p=.000), and project sponsorship and access to food (r=.730, p=.000). The study concluded that prior to the project many children within the project catchment area did not have access to formal education, health-care services and food due to the poverty that defined their family backgrounds. However, upon joining the Ivola Child Sponsorship Project, the beneficiaries were able to get access to formal education, health-care services and food. The study concluded that the Ivola Child Sponsorship Project played a critical role in the welfare of the beneficiaries. The study therefore recommended that Ivola project should improve more on their objectives in order to ensure more effectiveness in accessing formal education, healthcare and food by enrolled beneficiaries. Other than offering insights on the role of the child sponsorship project on beneficiaries, this study will also be of importance to the Government of Kenya for it will indicate the value of similar projects on community development throughout the country due to the success that has been registered by the Ivola Child Sponsorship Project.