Kenya: the fifth largest asylum country in Africa

Kenya has been hosting refugees and asylum seekers for more than four decades. As of January 2020, Kenya was host to 491,258 refugees and asylum seekers (49 percent female), the majority having fled Somalia and South Sudan. While the Government of Kenya has maintained an open-door policy with regards to the asylum of new arrivals, including from non-neighbouring countries, the encampment policy remains in effect with all asylum-seekers and refugees required to live in the camps. The country’s designated refugee complexes, Dadaab (Garisa) and Kakuma/Kalobeyei (Turkana) are home to 84 percent of the refugees, while a registered 16 percent reside in urban areas including Nairobi, Mombasa, Malindi, and Nakuru.
The majority of refugees in Kenya are women and children (77 percent). The refugee population is a mix of protracted caseload (mainly the Somali refugees) and relatively new arrivals. It is anticipated that in the next few years Kenya will continue to receive new arrivals mainly from South Sudan, Burundi, and Democratic Republic of Congo, with the key drivers of movement likely to be conflict, civil unrest, and insecurity. The designated refugee camps and settlements in Kenya are located in counties that are relatively under-developed, characterized by difficult socio-economic conditions that include food insecurity, limited access to basic social services and economic infrastructure, and poor livelihood opportunities. Both refugees and host communities struggle to find a sustainable route out of poverty. Humanitarian assistance remains their main source of income and primary form of food support. Despite being economically active and doing business with host communities, many refugee businesses are small and informal.
PROSPECTS in Kenya will target refugee and host community learners, out-of-school children and adolescents, teachers/trainers, as well as entrepreneurs and job-seekers. It will have a strong geographical focus on the major hosting locations of Turkana West, Fafi, Lagdera, and Dadaab sub-counties, while also working to strengthen protection and inclusion at the national level, thus having an impact beyond the major hosting locations.
The refugee settlements in Kenya have the potential to be vibrant cities. The refugee camps serve as vibrant, urban settlements with sizable markets and potential for growth, -- there are an estimated 2,500 businesses in Kakuma Camp and around 5,000 in Dadaab. Through its employment with dignity pillar, this Partnership is well positioned to promote a more concerted market-based engagement by development actors. Small-scale business and entrepreneurial initiatives provide important additional income for refugees.
The Partnership is positioned to contribute to the Government of Kenya’s realisation of its commitments in support of greater self-reliance for refugees and expanded socio-economic opportunities for host communities as set out in the Nairobi Action Plan, the GCR, and the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), and it is also designed to support the Government’s pledges made at the 2019 Global Refugee Forum (GRF).