Kenya is host to some 486 000 refugees from neighbouring countries. Over 2 million Kenyans are in need of humanitarian assistance after persistent drought, insufficient rainfall in 2017 and the cumulative effects of previous poor seasons. The voluntary repatriation of Somali refugees has continued, in spite of severe drought that is affecting Somalia. The European Commission continues its long-standing assistance to the refugees in Kenya and supports the emergency drought response mostly with cash programmes.
The number of food insecure people has dropped from 3.4 million in 2017 to 2.5 million in 2018, after the October to December rains. However, the situation remains dire in some counties with arid and semi-arid lands. Food and water are still expensive commodities in Kenya’s arid north, pastoralists in the worst-affected counties continue to fetch low prices for their emaciated animals, making people’s daily lives very difficult. The situation is worsened by insecurity in northern Kenya where multiple attacks have obstructed the access of the population to basic services.
Nationwide, 400 000 children and pregnant and breastfeeding women are acutely malnourished. 72 000 children have severe acute malnutrition and require life-saving treatment. Meanwhile, cholera outbreaks remain a major public health concern, with about 5 000 cases from January 2017 to January 2018.
In refugee camps, insufficient funding has led to food ration cuts. Due to Kenya’s encampment policy, refugees are confined to camps and almost entirely dependent on aid. Some 34 000 refugees signed up for voluntary repatriation to Somalia in 2017 despite ongoing drought and acute insecurity there. Kenya hosts around 486 000 refugees and asylum seekers, from South Sudan, Somalia, and the Great Lakes Region.
Over the years, the European Union has maintained its humanitarian support for refugee operations in Kenya, while simultaneously focusing on building the resilience of communities in the arid north and the capacity of authorities to prepare for and react to emergencies. The EU has allocated over €120 million in humanitarian funding to Kenya since 2012.
In 2017, the EU provided €23.8 million in humanitarian funds for drought affected populations and basic services for refugees. The drought response funding will go towards food assistance, mostly in the form of cash transfers.
In Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps, the Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) continues to support basic life-saving services such as food assistance, health care, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), protection, and education. Funding also allows for the registration of newcomers and the overall running of the camps.
The EU funds electronic food vouchers which replace part of the refugees’ in-kind food rations. A programme dubbed Bamba Chakula (‘Get your food” in Swahili) has been rolled out through the popular M-PESA mobile money transfer system. This programme provides refugees with more choice as they can choose which food to buy, thus diversifying their food intake while contributing to the local economy.
Health facilities with comprehensive services including in-patient wards have been set up with EU support and are catering to both the refugee and host population. Clean water, sanitation facilities and hygiene promotion are also given priority as they are vital and also greatly help in preventing children from getting sick and malnourished. Efforts are made to ensure that the environment in the camps is made safer, especially for children and women who make up 79% of the population, through community-based protection interventions.
The EU is contributing to the education of refugees and young people by offering improved and alternative learning services for over 130 000 pupils enrolled in schools in Dadaab and Kakuma camps. An accelerated learning programme has been devised for young people and adults whose education was interrupted due to conflict.