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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations



Kenya hosts over 500,000 refugees and asylum seekers who are fully dependent on humanitarian assistance for their basic needs. Since late 2019, Kenya has been impacted by the so-called ‘triple-threat’: the largest Desert Locust invasion in the last 60 years, the floods that have marked the Short and Long rainfall seasons, and the COVID-19 restriction measures. The European Union continues its long-standing assistance to refugees in Kenya and to responding to disaster-related emergencies in the country.

What are the needs?

The refugees and asylum seekers hosted in Kenya are mainly from SomaliaSouth Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are mainly confined to camps and almost entirely depend on aid.

In early 2021, a food and nutrition security assessment revealed that about 1.4 million people – mostly in arid and semi-arid areas – were facing acute food insecurity. This is due to the low rainfall levels at the end of 2020, resulting in poor harvests and declining livestock conditions. The report further indicated that the situation may worsen during the first semester of 2021 due to a possible delay in the onset of the March-May Long rainfall season in most parts of Kenya.

Kenya registered its first coronavirus case in March 2020 and is seriously affected by a new wave in the first months of 2021. Over 1,600 people have so far died from the virus. The prevention and containment measures have had an impact on food security and the economy, largely dependent on small businesses and traders.

Since 2019, many parts of Kenya have experienced heavy rains, triggering floods and mudslides across several parts of the country. The 2020 Long rainfall season produced unprecedented heavy downpours that resulted in landslides and flash floods, mainly in the western part of the country. As a result, 230 people lost their lives, more than 160,000 had to leave their homes, and critical infrastructure was destroyed.


Kenya country map

How are we helping?

Over the years, the European Union has maintained its humanitarian support for refugee operations in Kenya. EU humanitarian actions have helped:

  • build the resilience of communities in the arid northern part of Kenya
  • support authorities to prepare for emergencies
  • respond to food security emergencies for the most vulnerable people living in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands.

In 2021, the EU allocated €14 million in funding for humanitarian projects in Kenya, aiming first at assisting refugees. In the Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps, the EU continues to support the provision of basic life-saving aid such as food assistancehealthcareundernutrition treatmentwater, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)protection, and education.

Since 2012, the EU has provided more than €200 million in humanitarian aid in Kenya.

As a partial replacement to distributing in-kind food rations, the EU funds electronic food vouchers called ‘Bamba Chakula’ (‘Get your food’ in Swahili) and cash transfers.  Both modalities give refugees more options as households can choose which food to buy, diversifying their diet while helping the local economy.

EU humanitarian aid helps health facilities offering comprehensive services, including in-patient wards that cater to both refugee and host communities. Our assistance includes clean water, sanitation facilities and hygiene promotion as they prevent illnesses. We also provide care for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence and work with communities in the camps to prevent such acts of violence.

In addition, the EU contributes to the education of refugees and young people by offering learning opportunities for more than 135,000 pupils enrolled in schools in the Dadaab and Kakuma camps. In 2020, the schools in the refugee camps had to close for about 10 months and re-opened only in early January 2021. The situation is worse for girls and other vulnerable groups of learners such as Children with Disabilities (CWD), who are often left behind in an increasingly resource-scarce education environment.

In addition, the European Commission is providing €100 million in humanitarian assistance to support the rollout of vaccination campaigns in countries in Africa with critical humanitarian needs and fragile health systems. At least €14 million out of this funding will be supporting vaccination campaigns for the most vulnerable in Eastern Africa.

Last updated: 18/05/2021

Picture: © Brian Inganga/European Union, 2019

Facts & figures

Hosts more than 500,000 refugees and asylum seekers (UNHCR)

EU humanitarian funding:
€14 million in 2021
more than €200 million since 2012