Nairobi, 08 March 2016—UN-Habitat this week received USD 1 million from the Government of Japan to implement a project in Kenya: “Strengthening Planning for Resettlement and Integration of Refugee Communities at Kalobeyei New Site, Turkana County.” Turkana County is the largest, yet among the poorest counties in Kenya and home to thousands of refugees fleeing from civil strife in the neighbouring republic of South Sudan, and also Somalia.
For example, Kakuma refugee camp had a population of 180,974 people as of March 2015, according to UNHCR. Since the end of August 2014, the current Kakuma camp has been unable to accommodate the 42,000 new arrivals that it has received. The current situation should be seen in the context of decades-long displacement caused by the continuous civil war in South Sudan and the inadequacy of social amenities to the humanitarian and development needs of the displaced population.
Furthermore, lack of good refugee-host community relations has slowed down local integration due to the perception that host population has not meaningfully benefitted from hosting refugees.With long-term peace and reconciliation efforts still underway in South Sudan (and Somalia), Turkana County will likely record additional new refugee arrivals. To address refugee influx, the County Government of Turkana, the National Government and the UN system in Kenya are jointly developing a sustainable settlement that will integrate the needs of refugee and local communities at the Kalobeyei new site in Turkana County.
Kalobeyei is located approximately 30 kilometres north of Kakuma and about 35 kilometres from the Eastern border of Uganda and Kenya. The Kalobeyei new site projected to host over 60,000 people will be an important addition to the human settlement system of the County. The Turkana County Government has allocated 15 square kilometers of land for the development.
Due to competition over natural and human resources including land for livestock grazing and livelihood opportunities, tension has often flared between refugees and host communities. In order to foster social cohesion, the project will also focus on countering conflicts between refugees and host communities, including the identification and allocation of land with secure tenure.
The project, a paradigm shift from the traditional refugee camp planning process, is part of the larger Kalobeyei Intergrated Socio-Economic Development Programme (KISEDP) led by UNHCR and will supplement the County Government of Turkana’s effort to establish low-cost housing for refugees through a participatory planning process.