Kenya has been hosting refugees since 1970 with the numbers increasing significantly from 1990 onwards due to the influx of refugees from Somalia and South Sudan. Kenya currently hosts 473,971 refugees making it one of the biggest refugee-hosting countries in Africa after Uganda, Sudan and Ethiopia. The majority of the refugees originate from Somalia (54.5%) and South Sudan (24.4%) with the remainder from Democratic Republic of Congo (8.8%), Ethiopia (5.9%), with the remainder from Sudan, Rwanda, Eritrea, Burundi and Uganda.
44.5% of the refugees in Kenya reside in Dadaab refugee camp in the East near the Somali border, 39.7 % live in Kakuma and Kalobeyei settlement in the North-West near the border with South Sudan and 15.8 % in urban areas (mainly Nairobi).
With the adoption of the New York Declaration for Refugees in September 2016, the Member States of UN made a range of commitments, this included two key steps:
Building on the pledges made by the Government at the Leaders’ Summit, the formal application of the CRRF in Kenya was announced following the 68th Session of UNHCR’s Executive Committee in October 2017. Among the progressive steps that followed the formal announcement as CRRF country is:
In line with the CRRF approach, and based on the “leave no one behind’ principle, UNHCR ensured along with the participation from Refugee Affairs Secretariat and other stakeholders, that the status and needs of the refugee population, the refugee hosting population, stateless persons and migrants were reflected in the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) 2018-2022 that was finalized in June 2018. The UN translated the consultative process and its guiding principles – utilizing UN mandates and comparative advantage – to develop a framework that feeds into the Sustainable Development Goals, Kenya’s Vision 2030 and the Big Four agenda. This is also in line with the Government’s Medium Term Plan (MTP) III and the strategic direction of UN Country Team. Interventions for the persons of concern are reflected under respective outcome areas which mirror various activities implemented at sectoral level by UNHCR and partners.
The Turkana and Garissa County Integrated Development Plans, which guide all development activities in Turkana and Garissa County for the period 2018-2022, now include refugees. This has set a precedent for greater inclusion of refugees in development plans, in the spirit of comprehensive responses
In addition to applying comprehensive responses to refugee movements inside its borders, Kenya has played a pivotal role in regional efforts to pursue a common approach for the Somali refugee situation. In March 2017, the Government hosted the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development’s (IGAD) Special Summit on the protection and durable solutions for Somali refugees and reintegration of returnees in Somalia, where all IGAD Member States adopted the Nairobi Declaration on Durable Solutions for Somali Refugees and Reintegration of returnees in Somalia (also known as the Nairobi Declaration). Kenya participated in IGAD’s first inter-ministerial thematic meeting with a focus on Education, where IGAD Member States adopted the Djibouti Declaration on Regional Refugee Education, committing to refugee inclusion in national systems across the region by 2020. In March 2018, Kenya’s Refugee Affairs Secretariat which acts as the focal point for the CRRF roll-out in Kenya, shared the draft of its national action plan to implement the Nairobi Declaration as part of the CRRF Road Map. The draft CRRF Road Map is currently subject to internal consultations within various line ministries and national and county authorities. Building on the IGAD’s Djibouti Declaration on regional refugee education (December 2017), the Ministry of Education is also developing a Refugee Education Inclusion Policy. The whole of society –approach is actively applied to the CRRF in Kenya with a broad number of stakeholders actively engaged, as witnessed during the recent workshop organized by civil society in May 2018.. In addition, a big step towards self- reliance is the Kampala Declaration on Jobs, Livelihoods and Self-Reliance for Refugees, Returnees and Host Communities in the IGAD Region, which was adopted on the 28th of March 2019.
UNHCR and the Government of Turkana County in northern Kenya launched a new development plan, the ‘Kalobeyei Integrated Socio-Economic Development Program’ known as KISEDP which hopes to ensure that refugees and local communities benefit from services such as education and healthcare, and increased socio-economic opportunities, all anchored in building the skills and capacity of refugees and the Kenyans together.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) has concluded mapping for most of the 47 counties, in preparation for the 2019 housing and population census and for the first time will include refugees and stateless persons in its population groups for the first time.
The World Bank is among key partners to support comprehensive responses in Kenya. The already ongoing Kenya Displacement Response Development Initiative Project (KDRDIP) in the refugee hosting counties is funded through a loan of $100 million to the Government for a period of five years which supports the host communities through a community driven development approach that is complementary to UNHCR programmes in Dadaab and Kakuma.
In line with the objective of CRRF “improving refugee self-reliance” approach, UNHCR Kenya continues to engage with the Private Sector including MasterCard, Google, Vodafone, Safaricom, Kenya National Chamber of Commerce, Kuza Biashara and Equity Bank in seeking innovation and inclusion for refugees and asylum seekers in Kenya. Under the partnership with Equity Bank, refugees in Kalobeyei settlement are being provided with cash which is enabling families to fulfil their permanent shelter needs in a more dignified manner. Equity uses a wallet debit card, which is being considered the best solution in terms of characteristics and potential opportunities vis-a-vis current and future cash based transfer system. The card was introduced and continues to be used in commercial partnership with Equity Bank such as providing financial services to refugees engaged in business or entrepreneurship in both Kakuma camp and Kalobeyei settlement. The bank is participating in this programme of cash assistance through which the refugees can transact across the country with Equity Agents, ATM machines, and over the counters.
UNHCR and the World Bank are working together on data collection and research to facilitate evidence-based decision-making towards greater economic inclusion of refugees. The World Bank report “Yes in my backyard? The economics of refugees and their social dynamics in Kakuma, Kenya” (December 2016) analyses the economic and social impact of refugees on the host communities in Kakuma refugee camp and, based on the positive economic impact of refugees in the area, makes the case for the socio-economic inclusion of refugees.
In follow up, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and UNHCR launched the study “Kakuma as a Marketplace” on 4 May 2018. The study found that Kakuma’s economy is worth $56 million dollars annually based on consumer spending. Kakuma’s population size combining refugees and hosts is equivalent to Kenya’s tenth largest city, with a vibrant informal economy. It is hoped that the study will support continued evidence-based engagement by various stakeholders, in transforming refugee assistance in Kenya for mutual benefit of both refugees and host communities.
The “Doing Business in Dadaab” a joint ILO/UNHCR report questions the common assumption that Dadaab is a barren place without opportunity. Instead, the report identifies existing strengths that can be harnessed and built upon to grow economic empowerment within Dadaab and the wider Garissa community. The analysis explores these opportunities, identifying two key value chains whose development may support linkages to Garissa county and to Nairobi: an agricultural value chain on the one hand and a waste management chain on the other.
Contact persons for the CRRF in the UNHCR Office in Kenya:
 As of April 2019.
“Understanding and maximizing the whole-of-society approach for the CRRF roll-out in Kenya”, workshop organized by the Refugee Consortium of Kenya and the International Council of Voluntary Agencies in Nairobi, 17 May 2018 attended by the Kenyan Government and fifteen NGOs from the region (Kenya, Djibouti, Somalia and Uganda).
Funding: The UNHCR Kenya Operation requires USD 170.1 million in 2019.
17% has been funded thus far.
This report was prepared by the Evaluation Service, UNHCR.
The high-level meeting of Ministers in charge of refugees in the Great Lakes region was held on 7 March 2019 in line with the Global Compact on Refugees adopted on 17 December 2018. More information: here
The 32nd Ordinary Sessions of the AU Assembly was held on 10-11 February 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The theme they focused was on refugees, internally displaced persons and IDPs. The Summit officially launched the theme of the year and adopted a number of important decisions. To see the decisions, see the document attached. More information: here
This poster provides an overview of key developments in the African countries that are applying comprehensive refugee responses.