4 March 2016, Nairobi—UN-Habitat this week received USD 1 million from the Government of Japan to implement a project in Kenya: “Strengthening Planning for Resettlement and Integration of Refugee Communities at Kalobeyei New Site, Turkana County.”
Turkana County is the largest, yet among the poorest counties in Kenya and home to thousands of refugees fleeing from civil strife in the neighbouring republic of South Sudan, and also Somalia. For example, Kakuma refugee camp had a population of 180,974 people as of March 2015, according to UNHCR. Since the end of August 2014, the current Kakuma camp has been unable to accommodate the 42,000 new arrivals that it has received. The current situation should be seen in the context of decades-long displacement caused by the continuous civil war in South Sudan and the inadequacy of social amenities to the humanitarian and development needs of the displaced population. Furthermore, lack of good refugee-host community relations has slowed down local integration due to the perception that host population has not meaningfully benefitted from hosting refugees. With long-term peace and reconciliation still not the current reality in South Sudan (and Somalia); Turkana County will likely record additional refugee arrivals.
To address the presence of refugees in the County, the National Government, the UN system in Kenya, together with the County Government of Turkana are planning for a new settlement for resettlement as well as integrate local communities at the Kalobeyei new site in Turkana County.
Kalobeyei is located approximately 30 kilometres north of Kakuma and about 35 kilometres from the Eastern border of Uganda and Kenya. The Kalobeyei new site projected to host over 60,000 people will be an important addition to the human settlement system of the County. Due to competition over resources, tension has often flared between refugees and host communities. Thus, there is an urgent need to establish a sound planning process with sustainable integration for both refugees and local communities.
The project is part of a larger project with the main partner UNHCR and will supplement the County Government of Turkana’s effort to establish a new approach towards housing long term refugees in a more sustainable settlement through an integrated and participatory human settlement planning process establishing rather a new accessible urban center then a traditional refugee camp. Therefore the country government of Turkana already committed to provide land. This project will support to establish a sound participatory planning process and sustainable integration of refugees. The project will also focus in countering conflicts between refugees and host communities, including the identification and allocation of land with secure tenure, and a dynamic political environment are potential challenges that can lead to delays in refugee settlement integration.