UN-Habitat’s support to Preparedness and Response strategies in Kakuma-Kalobeyei, Kenya: Supporting COVID-19 Pandemic Efforts




Since late 2019, when the first case of COVID-19 was identified1 , cities around the world have been facing varying impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and have employed different measures to respond to the growing risks. While strategies might differ between countries and cities, the key objectives remain the same: to prevent, suppress, and slow transmission of the virus.

In 2020, UN-Habitat began supporting efforts in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic in Kakuma-Kalobeyei, Turkana County, Kenya – through UN-Habitat’s role as technical lead for the Spatial Planning & Infrastructure Development component under the Kalobeyei Integrated Socio-Economic Development Programme (KISEDP). The support stems from UN-Habitat’s recognition of the role of urban management systems in either (1) contributing to the exacerbation of COVID-19’s transmission or (2) “prevent[ion], suppress[ion], and slow[ing]”2 transmission of the virus.

The first case of COVID-19 in Kenya was confirmed in March 20203 , while the first case of COVID-19 in Kakuma-Kalobeyei was confirmed in May 20204 . During the earlier months of the pandemic, the Government of Kenya (GOK) released a series of measures in response to the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the country5. UNHCR also responded with developing preparedness and response strategies for KakumaKalobeyei6. The report will cover UN-Habitat’s two key spatial strategies across different scales developed to provide spatial insight into preparedness and response strategies in the earlier months of the pandemic in 2020: (1) Repurposing study of existing facilities through accessibility studies, and (2) Spatial outbreak investigation. The objective is to cover the processes in the development of these strategies and its implementation, and share insights and lessons learnt in the context of Kakuma-Kalobeyei.