Kenya: Too early to turn the page on IDPs, more work is needed



Since independence in 1963, Kenya has repeatedly experienced internal displacement triggered by political, ethnic and land-related violence as well as disasters and development projects. Political violence in particular, or the threat of it, has overshadowed every election since Kenya’s first multi-party elections in 1992. The gravest occurred in the aftermath of disputed presidential elections in December 2007 when nearly 664,000 Kenyans fled their homes and around 1,300 were killed.

There is no official, comprehensive, up-to-date national data on IDPs in the country. Data gathering has focused on instances of fresh displacement caused by violence or rapid-onset disasters with little quantitative and qualitative data on displacement dynamics after IDPs’ initial flights. The most recent informed estimate – provided by UNHCR in January 2013 – of 412,000 IDPs does not include those displaced by natural disasters, development projects and pastoralist IDPs. Nor does it include any of the estimated 300,000 people who fled post-election violence in 2007-2008 and who are usually described as “integrated” IDPs. Kenya needs to urgently develop capacity to provide comprehensive data on IDPs disaggregated by age, gender and location.

IDPs living in protracted displacement continue to identify as protection concerns inadequate access to land, basic services and livelihood opportunities. Many IDPs are displaced in areas of the country that are environmentally and economically vulnerable and thus enjoy fewer opportunities for integration and development.

Kenya has made progress towards putting a comprehensive legal and policy framework on internal displacement in place. The cabinet endorsed a draft national policy on internal displacement in October 2012 and parliament adopted a new Act on IDPs in December of the same year. Since then, however, there has been no progress in implementing the Act or moving the national policy beyond the draft stage. The implementation of such frameworks is essential to improving the Government’s response to the protection needs of IDPs and other affected communities. Kenya is also still to sign and ratify the Kampala Convention.