Supporting Kakuma’s Refugee Traders: The Importance of Business Documentation in an Informal Economy (August 2018)
In Kenya there remain more than 480,000 registered refugees, with most forced to live and remain in refugee camps located in marginalised and isolated parts of the country. Kakuma refugee camp and nearby Kalobeyei settlement in Turkana County in north-western Kenya today host close to 186,000 refugees from South Sudan, Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Burundi and Sudan amongst others. Many have spent years or even decades in camps, dependent on humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs, unable to move freely due to Kenya’s encampment policy and facing barriers to earn income through employment, business or trade.
In 2017, Kenya became a pilot country for the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), which is supposed to create a new way of supporting and managing refugees. Kenya has also signed up to a number of commitments to new ways of hosting refugees as part of the Intergovernmental Development Authority (IGAD) Nairobi Declaration. NRC Kenya has partnered with Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) to publish two briefing papers looking at the challenges of obtaining movement passes and the importance of business permits in the Kakuma context. This research and the recommendations will contribute to broader discussions related to policy changes that can allow refugees in Kenya to be self-reliant, and contribute effectively to the economies of the Counties in which they are hosted, while they wait for a more durable solution.