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Multi-sectoral needs assessment - Dadaab refugee complex Garissa county, Kenya, October 2020

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As of September 2020, a total of 221,1021, mostly Somali refugees resided in Dadaab refugee complex (Dagahaley, Hagadera and Ifo refugee camps). 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.

With continued conflict, instability and drought causing new displacement in Somalia, in addition to reduced humanitarian funding in Dadaab, there is a need to strengthen the available information on humanitarian needs and access to assistance and services in the camps. Such information is needed to support evidence-based planning of the immediate refugee response and further inform the development of longerterm response strategies, such as the government-led Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) annual plans and county-level development plans.

This situation overview presents findings of a multi-sector needs assessment conducted in October 2020 unless otherwise indicated. Similar assessments were conducted in September 2019, February 2019 and December 2018 across the three camps of Dadaab refugee complex. It provides an analysis of needs across the following sectors; education, protection, food security, health and nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and livelihoods, and provides a trend analysis of some key indicators over the period from December 2018 to October 2020.


This assessment was conducted through household (HH) level interviews from 6 to 16 October 2020 in Dadaab refugee complex. A total of 576 HHs from the three camps were interviewed (192 in each camp).

The sample was selected through probability random sampling at individual camp level to fulfill a 95% confidence level and 7% margin of error and was calculated based on the HH population of each camp. The confidence level is guaranteed for all questions that apply to the entire surveyed population of each camp. Findings relating to a subset of the surveyed population may have a wider margin of error and a lower confidence level. The data was weighted during analysis to account for lack of proportionality for individual camp samples. The data was aggregated at the overall Dadaab refugee complex level to fulfill a 95% confidence level and 4% margin of error.

To ensure randomness in the sampling approach, random GPS points were generated using ESRI’s ArcMap in the residential areas, which are clearly divided into blocks. Enumerators accessed the random GPS points from their android phones using MAPinr, and they interviewed HHs that fell on particular points. In case there was no person to interview in the selected HH, or the respondent was unwilling to participate, enumerators targeted the nearest HH in a radius of 5 meters. If there was still no HH to interview, then they interviewed the HH that fell on the next point.


  • Findings indicate that HHs in Dadaab refugee complex have various needs across multiple sectors, the most severe needs appear to be in the food security sector where a majority of HHs (99%) reported food as their priority need in October 2020, with 94% of HHs reporting that they rely on food vouchers as their primary source of food. A high proportion of HHs (over 95%) reported food to be their priority need in all the assessments conducted from December 2018 to October 2020. In addition to these, food availability may be decreasing with almost two-thirds of the HHs (64%) reporting that the amount of food supply for their HH had decreased in the 6 months prior to data collection. Thirty-one percent of HHs (31%) were found to have either a poor or borderline food consumption score (FCS)2 and 61% of HHs were using either emergency, crisis of stress level livelihood-based coping strategies, which indicates that their FCS would be lower were they not engaging in these unsustainable coping strategies.

  • COVID-19 seems to have an impact across the different sectors including protection, livelihoods, and food security; Eighty-one percent of the HHs (81%) reported that they had borrowed some money from family, friends, traders, etc. at the time of data collection. Of these, 60% reported that they had borrowed the money due to COVID-19 related challenges. In addition, 50% of HHs reported having a HH member who had lost their job as a result of COVID-19.

  • HHs in Dadaab refugee complex seem to generally have access to sufficient quantities of water, with 95% of HHs in October 2020 reporting to have access to enough water to meet their HH needs in the 30 days prior to data collection. However, access to hygiene and sanitation seems to be a challenge for some HHs, in particular, 54% of HHs reportedly did not observe all the five critical hand washing occasions3, which exposes these HHs to the risk of disease transmission. In Dagahaley and Hagadera, the proportion of HHs that reported that at least one member of their HH did not have access to or use a latrine seemed to increase from Feb ruary 2019 to October 2020.

  • Security in Dadaab refugee complex seems to be stable with a high proportion of HHs (over 97%) perceiving their safety and security to be either good or very good in the six months prior to data collection.

  • The access to health and nutrition was seemingly good: 97% of HHs reported being able to access a functioning health facility when they encountered a health issue. Of the HHs that reportedly had access to a functioning health facility, 82% reported that they were not required to pay for health care.
    A higher proportion of HHs in Hagadera refugee camp (27%) than Dagahaley (4%) and Ifo (1%) reported that they would visit a government hospital.

  • Thirteen percent (13%) of HHs reported that they had at least one member of their HH who had attended vocational training in the 6 months prior to data collection.