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Understanding the Socioeconomic Conditions of Refugees in Kenya | Volume B: Kakuma Camp - Results from the 2019 Kalobeyei Socioeconomic Survey

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Socioeconomic data of refugees and host communities are crucial to support the objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR), inform effective development policy, and respond timely to shocks. Even though significant progress to produce displacement statistics has been made, data gaps persist. Limitations include variation across countries in terms of statistical capacities and lack of comparable socioeconomic data of refugees and hosts, which hinders efforts to design targeted policy interventions.2 Micro-data collection through household surveys that are comparable to national measures can support the objectives of the GCR by filling socioeconomic data gaps to inform evidence-based responses. Household survey data, in combination with frequently collected data—as carried out for the COVID-19 Rapid Response Phone Survey (RRPS)—are critical to inform timely measures to mitigate socioeconomic shocks. Such data are also necessary to inform government, humanitarian, and development plans, as was done for the Kalobeyei Integrated Socio-Economic Development Plan in Turkana West (KISEDP).

By closing displacement data gaps, the Kakuma Socioeconomic Survey (SES) contributes to inform targeted responses to improve the living conditions of refugees and hosts, and to address the socioeconomic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on refugees. Initiated jointly by UNHCR and the World Bank, the Kakuma SES, and the preceding Kalobeyei SES, help inform evidence-based programming and development policy by addressing socioeconomic data gaps.3 The Kakuma SES’s analysis and recommendations provide a comprehensive snapshot of the socioeconomic lives of refugees in Kakuma in North West Kenya as well as local and national hosts. The SES covers demographics, housing characteristics, access to services, livelihoods, poverty incidence, food security, social cohesion, trajectories of displacement, and intentions to move. It links its findings to the results of the COVID-19 RRPS on health, education, and livelihoods. The SES provides the following refugee-specific and cross-cutting policy recommendations resulting from the survey findings, while offering options to help mitigate the socioeconomic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on refugees (Table 1).

Refugee household surveys, which are comparable to national and host community measures in Kenya, are crucial to provide evidence for policy planning, and linking humanitarian and development efforts. Refugees in Kenya are not included in national surveys, resulting in a lack of comparable socioeconomic data of forcibly displaced people (FDP) and host communities at the national and county levels.4 This limits efforts to design policy and programs that inclusively address the needs of vulnerable populations, especially when facing socioeconomic shocks such as those deriving from the COVID-19 pandemic. Developing and strengthening national and international policy frameworks that promote the implementation of household surveys that include FDP are crucial to produce evidence needed to inform targeted humanitarian and development response. National statistical capacity needs to be strengthened to ensure that FDP are integrated into national household surveys. Moving forward, making data and survey findings publicly available (after anonymization) is critical to ensure that the government, development partners, and civil society organizations have access to evidence to inform their action.