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Multi-sectoral needs assessment - Kakuma Refugee Camps, Turkana county, Kenya, October 2020

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As of September 2020, a total of 157,7181 , mostly South Sudanese refugees resided in Kakuma refugee camps (Kakuma 1, Kakuma 2, Kakuma 3 and Kakuma 4 camps). With continued conflict, instability and food insecurity causing new displacement in South Sudan2 , in addition to reduced humanitarian funding in Kakuma camps3 , 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 longer-term 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 across the four Kakuma camps by REACH Initiative in close collaboration with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and in support of humanitarian operational partners in Kakuma refugee camps. It provides an analysis of needs across the following sectors; education, protection, food security, health and nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and livelihoods.


This assessment was conducted through household (HH) level interviews from 6 to 16 October 2020 in Kakuma camps. A total of 787 HHs from the four camps were interviewed (200 in Kakuma 1, 195 in Kakuma 2, 196 in Kakuma 3 and 196 in Kakuma 4).

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 Kakuma camp level to fulfill a 95% confidence level and 3% 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.

Key Findings

  • Findings indicate that HHs in Kakuma camps have severe needs across multiple sectors, with the most severe needs appearing to be in food security sector where almost two-thirds (67%) of HHs were found to have either a poor or borderline food consumption score (FCS)4 . In addition to this, about half (53%) of HHs were using either emergency, crisis of stress level livelihood-based coping strategies, which indicates that their food security situation would likely have been lower were they not engaging in these unsustainable coping strategies.

  • COVID-19 seems to be having an impact across different sectors including protection, livelihoods, and food security; A quarter of the HHs (25%) reported that they had borrowed some money from family, friends, traders, etc. at the time of data collection. Of these, 42% reported that they had borrowed the money due to COVID-19 related challenges. In addition, 10% of HHs reported having a HH member who had lost their job as a result of COVID-19. Among HH members not registered as refugees or asylum seekers (20%), the top reported reason for not registering was delays in registration due to COVID-19.

  • There are several key indicators that suggest that HHs are struggling to access WASH services: 40% of HHs in Kakuma camps reported that they were unable to access enough water in the 30 days prior to data collection. Forty three percent of HHs (43%) reported that members of their HH experienced challenges while fetching water. Of these, 74% suggested that lack of enough water at their water point was the main challenge encountered. Sixty-five percent of HHs (65%) reportedly did not observe all the five critical hand washing occasions5 , which exposes these HHs to a risk of disease transmission. A relatively high proportion of HHs in Kakuma 3 (21%) reported that at least one member of their HH did not have access to or use a latrine.

  • Findings suggest that security is a concern for about a quarter of refugees in Kakuma: 27% of HHs reported that the safety and security situation in the camps was either poor or very poor in the six months prior to data collection.

  • The access to health and nutrition appeared to be relatively good: 94% of HHs reported being able to access a functioning health facility when they encountered a health issue and 60% of HHs reported being able to access nutrition services when needed.

  • A quarter of the HHs in Kakuma 4 (25%) reported that members of their HH did not possess any identification document (ID).

  • Across the four camps, a small yet considerable proportion of HHs with school-aged children reported having girls and/or boys in their household who were not attending school at the time of data collection (19% and 13%, respectively), mostly due to the perceived security concerns on the way to school for younger children in particular.