Comparative Analysis of Food Security Needs and Coping Strategies in Dadaab Refugee Complex, Kakuma Refugee Camp and Kalobeyei Integrated Settlement, Kenya - April 2021



As of 28 February 2021, a total of 224,462 refugees resided in Dadaab Refugee Complex (Dadaab) and 206,458 refugees resided across both Kakuma Camp (Kakuma) and Kalobeyei Settlement (Kalobeyei). Dadaab is located in Garissa County in Southeast Kenya and includes three camps: Dagahaley, Ifo and Hagadera. Dadaab was established in 1991, and hosts generations of refugee families, some of whom have had two generations born in the complex. Kakuma, located in Northwest Kenya’s Turkana West County, was established in 1992. The camp consists of four areas, also referred to as Kakuma 1,2,3, and 4. Following an influx of arrivals into Kakuma in 2014, Kalobeyei, consisting of Kalobeyei Village 1,2, and 3, was established 20 km outside of Kakuma.

Since May 2017, REACH has worked in collaboration with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and in support of humanitarian operational partners in Dadaab to provide information and guidance on developing tools and methodologies for data collection and data analysis in Dadaab refugee complex, particularly through implementing an annual Multi-Sector Needs Assessment (MSNA). In May 2020, REACH and NRC expanded their purview to also conduct the MSNA in Kakuma and Kalobeyei in an effort to identify the needs and priorities of refugees and returnees. While analyzing the 2020 MSNA data, key differences were identified in the circumstances of refugee households (HHs) in Dadaab as compared to the circumstances of refugee HHs in Kakuma and Kalobeyei, particularly around food security and coping strategies In partnership with NRC, REACH used 2020 MSNA data to conduct further comparative analysis of aligned and divergent trends in food security and coping strategies alongside a brief literature review of socio-economic statuses in the three locations to further contextualize findings. Unless otherwise stated, all data points are derived from the 2020 MSNA dataset, accessible here.


  • Refugee HHs in Kakuma and Kalobeyei had statistically, significantly poorer HH dietary diversity scores (HDDS) than refugee HHs in Dadaab— HHs in Dadaab are consuming, on average, 1.5 more food groups than HHs in Kakuma and 1.4 more food groups than HHs in Kalobeyei.

  • The proportion of HHs in Kakuma and Kalobeyei that reportedly resorted to emergency livelihoods coping strategies was nearly 10x greater than the proportion of HHs that used emergency livelihoods coping strategies in Dadaab.

  • 82% of HHs in Dadaab borrowed money from family and friends or used credit to meet their needs; 97% of those who borrowed money reported using it to buy food.

  • 33% and 27% of HHs in Kakuma and Kalobeyei borrowed money from family and friends or used credit to meet their needs, 86% and 97% of those HHs, respectively, reported using borrowed money for food.

  • Broader social networks and better social cohesion in Dadaab may be contributing to HHs’ ability to borrow money for food, in turn potentially driving improved dietary consumption and access to more food groups.