Improving living conditions for people in Kakuma

On World Refugee Day: In the second largest refugee camp in Kenya, farmers are coming together to produce vegetables – and the surrounding communities are benefiting too.

Kenya has taken in around 500,000 refugees from neighbouring countries currently in crisis, including South Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia. Just under 185,000 people live in the Kakuma refugee camp in the north-west of the country. People in the camp are often undernourished and suffer from inadequate health care. But the local population, too, is extremely poor, meaning that it must compete with the refugees for essential resources such as fuelwood, water and land. Jobs and training opportunities are few and far between.

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is working on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and in cooperation with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to achieve a permanent improvement in living conditions for refugees and the host communities in Kakuma and to support them in their future lives.

This involves a host of different activities. Training schemes designed to enhance employability are being set up in information and communications technology, health care is being extended and support provided to refugees who wish to return to their countries of origin. Other priority areas include conflict prevention and food security. Since 2015, some 270,000 people have benefited from these measures.

Water: the key to success

Access to fields and water enables refugees and the local population to secure their own livelihoods in the long term. To establish a functioning water supply, eight wells have been repaired with GIZ’s support, for example. Each of these wells is looked after by a group of at least 20 people, who also work together to market and sell the produce they harvest.

Water is the key to their success: since the wells have been repaired, vegetable production has increased by more than one third to around 3,200kg. Some groups have purchased an irrigation system to be able to run their operations more professionally and produce more food. Around 800 people are benefiting directly from the farmers’ success in boosting production and the increase in their income.

As the vegetables – which include okra, sweet potatoes and spinach – are sold not only in the camp but also at markets in the surrounding area, the farmers’ achievements are also improving the food supply in the neighbouring host communities