NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 8 – The European Union, The Netherlands, UN partners, Turkana County and the National Government representatives on Wednesday launched a groundbreaking programme that aims to improve the living conditions of refugees and host communities in Turkana County.
The Support to the Kalobeyei Integrated Social and Economic Development Programme funded through the EU Trust Fund for Africa, will promote a new way of working, placing refugees on the development agenda and contributing to an inclusive approach to managing protracted displacement and promoting durable solutions for refugees and host communities.
Kenya has an estimated 495,000 refugees, of which over 160,000 are hosted in Kakuma, Turkana County, a region suffering from economic and social underdevelopment.
The upcoming Kalobeyei settlement area will be an attempt to better take into consideration the long-term interests of host populations, bringing together humanitarian and development efforts under the leadership of the Kenyan Government and County authorities.
The County Governor Josephat Nanok has welcomed the support provided by the European Union saying, “he was glad that the projected visualized two years ago was now coming to fruition.”
“This being the first pilot to this initiative, we hope that it’s something that can be adopted globally. We have severe drought and the reason we did not come up among the top 10 most affected counties is because of intervention programmes like this which have helped to cushion us from its adverse effects.”
EU Head of Development Cooperation, Erik Habers, announced that the EU support will go towards interventions that promote self-reliance, through better livelihood opportunities and enhanced service delivery, building up resilience, and seeking longer-term solutions for refugees:
“We hope to enhance protection for refugees and host communities and catalyse development in Kalobeyei settlement so that it becomes a place in which refugees and the host communities live peacefully together, have access to social services and develop economic ties to build sustainable livelihoods. Our challenge is to make this happen,” he said.
The objective of the programme is to improve health standards for the host communities and refugees in Kalobeyei, increase food and nutrition security and promote economic opportunities, increase school enrolment for children, improve child safety and wellbeing and enhance social cohesion between refugees and host communities.
He was speaking at the offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Nairobi, Kenya where implementing partners, UNHCR, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the County of Turkana kicked off the Kalobeyei programme.
The EU has committed €15 million (Sh1.6bn) towards the programme which is part of the EU Regional Development and Protection Programme (RDPP) in the Horn of Africa, led by the Netherlands, which has been set up to address protection and development challenges related to forced and protracted displacement and also includes projects in Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda.
The Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Marielle Geraedts, stressed: “Addressing development needs of refugees and host communities at the same time will lead to more effective use of the scarce resources and will create a more sustainable system in the longer run.”
The EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, under which this project is funded, was set up precisely for this purpose, with the objective of addressing the root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement. This project underlines the EU’s and the Netherlands’ strong commitment to improving conditions for refugees, IDPs and their host communities in the Horn of Africa.
The UNHCR Representative, Raouf Mazou, on behalf of all UN implementing partners involved in the project, welcomed the support provided by the EU/RDPP, aimed at moving away from dependency and investing in the economic potential of refugees and their hosts.
The UN Resident Coordinator Siddharth Chatterjee said this is an approach that UN wants to be adopted by all partners.
“All we need to do is use our resources to work with the national and county governments to ensure that normative disconnects are bridged to ensure sustainable development for all,” Chatterjee said.