Flood protection urgently needed in Kakuma camp

from ACT Alliance
Published on 08 Apr 2014 View Original

Residents of a refugee camp extension in northwest Kenya face months of waterlogged and muddy conditions if drainage is not put in place urgently.

Kakuma 4, as the new extension to the Kakuma refugee camp is known, is a located on a large area of flat terrain. With the onset of the rainy season, the land needs drainage work to prevent flooding and pooling of water and mud.

Kakuma 4 houses refugees from the South Sudan conflict. Although a ceasefire was signed in January, fighting continues in South Sudan, driving thousands of people to seek refuge over neighbouring borders. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says 270,000 people have fled to surrounding countries since the conflict began in December 2013.

Of the 30,000 refugees OCHA reports seeking shelter in Kenya, 26,000 have arrived at Kakuma 4, already filling it to capacity.

Urgent road repairs and drainage needed

Huge site developments are planned for Kakuma 4. ACT member, the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) has submitted a technical proposal to UN refugee agency, UNHCR, to grade 32km of roads and surface at least 12km of roads with a clay-like material, murram.

At least 12 culverts or concrete drifts will also be required. A series of drains will need to be built, extending from the flood pockets that form within the settlement to the drainage waterways. At least 22 channels of about 200m each will need stone pitching.

Access to the settlement is poor. Manual labourers are opening new roads using hand tools, while waiting for mechanical equipment to finish the job. However, even when mechanical road opening is done, some 25km of 8m-wide roads will need to be cleared manually.

Thousands of temporary houses erected

By mid-March, NCCK had built 5700 temporary shelters at Kakuma 4 providing shelter to 25,900 new arrivals for an estimated two to four weeks, after which, the structures would be replaced by durable shelters of mud walls and iron sheet roofing. Kakuma 4 needs a total of 6470 durable shelters.

Beneficiaries are given the means to make mud bricks and erect walls for their houses. Already, many have built the mud walls and are now waiting for iron roofing from NCCK.

Brick production areas near the settlement create huge excavations that fill with water in the rainy season, turning them in to mosquito breeding sites and potential death-traps for children. At least six sites, each with a 300m perimeter, need fencing.

The camp also urgently needs 65 sign panels. Beneficiaries, staff and implementing partners frequently get lost in the enlarged settlement.