Kenya hosts 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 Somalia, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Kenya has an encampment policy: refugees are mainly confined to camps and are almost entirely dependent on aid.
A recent food and nutrition security assessment revealed that about 1.4 million people — mostly in arid and semi-arid areas — are facing acute hunger. This is due to the rainfall levels resulting in poor harvests and declining livestock conditions. The report further indicated that the situation may worsen due to reports of a 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. 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, where 230 people lost their lives, more than 160,000 had to leave their homes, and critical infrastructure was destroyed.
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.
Since 2012, the EU has provided more than €200 million in humanitarian aid in Kenya.
The EU is providing humanitarian funding first and mostly to assist refugees. In addition, following the torrential rains that caused devastating floods and landslides across the region in April 2020, the EU mobilised €500,000 in emergency assistance to respond to immediate needs in Kenya. Meanwhile, the EU allocated an additional €4 million to respond to the consequences of desert locusts upsurge on people living in the most affected areas in the northern and eastern side of the country.
Given the new challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, EU-funded humanitarian projects in Kenya are adopting new measures and adapting existing ones within their projects to help beneficiaries and staff keep safe while continuing to provide life-saving assistance to support vulnerable communities.
Actions already focusing on the health sector will continue providing access to health care and epidemics control and prevention among refugees and host communities. These actions are complementing ongoing efforts by the Ministry of Health of Kenya. In addition, the EU is supporting the World Health Organization (WHO) in Kenya in early detection and response measures to the coronavirus pandemic.
In the Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps, the EU continues to support the provision of basic life-saving aid such as food assistance, healthcare, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), protection, and education.
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.