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KRCS to Improve upon Sanitation in Daadab IFO2 West

As part of the objectives for the Dadaab Operation, KRCS will construct family latrines (at a ratio of 1 latrine for 3 families) in IFO2 West. Ultimately, over 3,300 latrines will be constructed for the camp population of 60,000 people.

The construction will begin in Sections S, T and U, while NRC will complete the construction of Communal latrines in Sections N and O. Community mobilisation has began, with involvement of community leaders, mainly the camp leaders, section leaders and block leaders. This will go a long way in solving the crisis of latrine shortages that may lead to outbreak of diseases.

The Dadaab Refugee complex is made up of five camps namely Dagahley, Hagadera, IFO, IFO2 and Kambioos (not formally recognised as a refugee camp). According to the UNHCR, the first three (3) camps were set up in early 1990s to receive refugees mainly from Somalia, and were designed to have a combined carrying capacity of 90,000 people. However, the continuous fighting in Somalia has over the years caused displacement of people majority of which end up in the refugee complex. This flow of refugees has not been matched by a corresponding expansion of existing facilities or a speed up of resettlement of refugees in third countries.

By mid 2010, the existing camps could not accommodate any more persons despite the continuous streaming in of new arrivals. The camps were holding more than 400,000 people against the design capacity of 90,000. This led to a crisis that followed massive displacements occasioned by heightened insecurity and the effects of drought that largely affected the Horn of Africa. All the new arrivals, therefore, settled in the outskirts of Hagadera and IFO camps.

Negotiations for allocation of additional land for camps expansion faced huddles, mainly from the Government and the host community.

The land was later identified for the expansion of IIFO camp, and development of structures began. The development was planned to be done in two phases, and therefore the IFO extension was named IFO2 (the area to be developed first) with a capacity to hold 60,000 refugees and IFO3 (to be developed later) with a similar carrying capacity. The camps were later renamed IFO2 East and IFO2 West respectively.

The plight of the refugees was highlighted by the local and international media in mid 2011, which helped to refocus the attention of the international community on the humanitarian crisis facing the refugees in Dadaab. This attention compelled the government to authorise expansion of IFO. Priority was given to the relocation of the refugees who had settled on the outskirts of Hagadera and IFO camps.

Today, IFO2 camp is hosting an estimated 76,000 people (40,582 in IFO2 West and 35,000 in IFO2 East) each of the camp has a design capacity of 60,000 people when fully occupied.

Following discussions between the Kenya Red Cross (KRC), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the United Nations Higher Commissioner for the Refugees (UNHCR) over delivery of services in IFO2, an agreement was reached and a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) drafted, which covered delivery of services in key sectors in IFO2 West. These sectors included Camp Management, Health and Nutrition, Water and Sanitation, Education and Shelter and Relief.

The KRCS take over began in the fourth week of October 2011 with the roll out of the health and nutrition services sector.

Despite taking over the camp, there are still a number of challenges which range from Insecurity, tension amongst camp residence, shelter issues as well as Water and Sanitation. In Section S3 mainly there is a high rate of abandoned homes. This is because they are closest to the area that recently had an explosion and attack on Police in December 2011, which led to police operations in the area that resulted in high tension among the people. Despite the tension, a refugee, Mr Isah Borow Abdirahman did not move from the area that is about 200 meters from the explosion site. He has five children aged between all aged between 1 year and 10 years old. Two of his children are disabled.

When asked why he did not move, he states that the children have not gone for any immunisations at the hospital but the youngest, Ambia Abdulahi only got the measles shot from the IFO 2 West Hospital that is currently under KRCS. One of the objectives for the KRCS is to improve shelter conditions by providing semi permanent shelters as approved by the Government of Kenya (SPHERE) although the pilot project was stopped by the Government mid last year after 116 houses had been constructed using each of the two technologies. The Government would not allow the development of such housing units for the refugees since they appeared too permanent and this would discourage the refugees from going back to their country.

According to Hawa Ahmed, the Chairlady of Section U1, on the biggest concern in her section is sanitation and shelter. Some of the tents are already torn with residents being forced to sleep outside and the latrines are getting full because they are few and shared by many households. She, however, is grateful to KRCS for setting up the hospital with all the essential services and hopes that KRCS is there to stay to continue giving assistance to her family.

In another development, a WASH Committee meeting was also held on 22nd February where the Camp Coordinator and the WatSan team met the community to understand their needs in terms of Water and Sanitation and also map out a way forward.