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Kenya Development Response to Displacement Impacts Project (KDRDIP)

Location of implementation: Dadaab & Lagdera Sub-counties, Garissa.

Donor: Period of Implementation: 2019 – 2020

In early 1990’s, Dadaab played host to thousands of refugees that were fleeing from Somali following the collapse of the then government of the country. Subsequent civil unrest as well as ravaging impacts of drought that continued to threaten the lives of the local communities further pushed more refugees from Somalia to Dadaab, in search of peace and tranquility. According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), this refugee complex, which was initially designed to host about 95,000 refugees, was playing host to more than 420,000 persons by 2012.

The existence and the expansion of the camp has had significant environmental, as well as socio-economic impacts in the areas. Demand for firewood for the refugee households, as well as poles for constructions of houses and shrubs for fencing off the refugee home compounds has led to major environmental degradation. This is in addition to the ASAL (Arid and Semi-Arid) nature of the area which makes it vulnerable to recurrent droughts that leads to loss of livelihoods of the local communities who are dependent on livestock and agriculture. On the other hand, however, the camp has also led to positive impacts to the host communities. The supply of the firewood and the poles is done mainly by local communities, thus providing a source of income. Additionally, the camps have also provided a huge market for the supply of other household goods, thus creating jobs for the local businessmen, while at the same time providing major urban services such as shops and social amenities to the host communities.

On the other hand, the perceived preferential treatment of the refugees by development agencies such as UNHCR and other NGOs operating in the complex, including providing relief assistance such as water and food during humanitarian crisis, as well as provision of other social services such as education and medical facilities has led to major tensions between the refugees and host communities. While host communities and the refugees alike use these social amenities, the lack of the same services in the interior of the region has made refugees feel left out when services are being provided to the refugees.

The ongoing repatriation of the refugees back to Somalia following the signing of the tripartite agreement between the Government of Kenya, UNHCR and the Government of Somali will lead to major economic impacts on the local communities. As the local economy of Dadaab and the wider Garissa was also dependent on the complex, this will mean loss of livelihoods for a majority of the people that were dependent on the refugee economy. On the flipside though, this also presents an opportunity to rebuild the region, especially from an environmental perspective.

The Kenya Development Response to Displacement Impacts Project (KDRDIP), funded by the World Bank, with implementation coordinated by the national government aims to address the impacts of forced displacement on countries and communities in the Horn of Africa (HOA) that are hosting refugees. KDRDIP, which is part of the broader “Northern and North-Eastern Kenya Development Initiative” (NEDI), is a multi-sectoral development response to addresses unmet social, economic, and environmental needs in local host communities. The main objectives of this project include (i) Improvement of access to basic social services; (ii) Expansion of economic opportunities, and (iii) Enhancement of environmental management for communities hosting refugees.

One of the priority components for this project ‘Livelihood Component’ seeks to contributing to rebuilding the livelihoods of the local communities. As the refugee hosting communities derive their income from traditional means including pastoralism, agro -pastoralism, and small-scale agriculture; as well as small businesses, skill-based jobs, and service enterprises, both require low-level technologies and skills, often accompanied by inherent low productivity and incomes. The livelihood component under this project seeks to support interventions aimed at improving the productivity of traditional and non-traditional livelihoods and strengthening the resilience of communities. Two main livelihood sub-components that RRDO is implementing under this component include:

Traditional and non-traditional Livelihoods – this sub-component seeks to increase the production and productivity of pastoralism (livestock), agro-pastoralism (crop and livestock), agriculture (crops and livestock) and fisheries, and commercialize their livelihood activities for improved incomes, employment, and self-reliance. At the on-farm level, the project is implementing activities aimed at improving lives of pastoralists/agro-pastoralists through enhanced production and productivity of livestock (goats, camels, cattle, and poultry) and dry land farming with an emphasis of rebuilding pastures.

At the off-farm level, the project is implementing activities that are aimed at strengthening the value chains for selected commodities and promoting agribusiness. To achieve this, RRDO is aggressively promoting the role of, and seeking collaborations with financial services through elevation of grassroots financial institutions, while at the same time, strengthening technical and advisory services to help host communities identify viable businesses and/ or investment opportunities and income-generating activities.

Capacity Building of Community - based Organizations for Livelihoods – Community based institutions, including different community-level livelihood driven groups have a strategic role to play in promoting inclusive and sustainable livelihoods. To achieve this, through this sub-component, RRDO has been mobilizing different Community Groups (CGs) and producer organizations at both village level, as well as ward level and providing important capacity building needed for their growth particularly in group management, conflict resolution, savings, inter loaning, timely payment, and up-to-date books of accounts. Additionally, RRDO is also supporting the capacity building and technical assistance for major livelihood activities including business planning and advisory support, using the Community Development Driven (CDD) approach.