Fostering economic and social development in Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps – UNHCR-UNIDO Private Sector Mission to Kenya

The international community is looking into new ways to foster economic, social and ecological development, self-reliance and sustainability, with the aim of stabilizing the situation of and creating opportunities for refugees and affected host communities. ITPO Germany aims to support these efforts by enabling private sector actors to explore opportunities in the refugee-hosting areas.

Kenya is currently hosting almost half a million refugees and asylum seekers. Approximately 90% of them reside in the Dadaab camps in Garissa County and the Kakuma camps and the Kalobeyei settlement in Turkana County. The Dadaab refugee complex consists of three camps. The first camp was established in 1991, when refugees fled from the civil war in Somalia. In July 2020, the Dadaab refugee complex had a population of 218,873 registered refugees and asylum seekers. The Kakuma refugee camp was established in 1992 following the arrival of the “Lost Boys of Sudan”. In 2014, land for a new settlement was identified in Kalobeyei, 20 km from Kakuma town. At the end of July 2020, the Kakuma and Kalobeyei camps had a population of 196,666 registered refugees and asylum seekers.

UNHCR, in line with the principles of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) and in collaboration with the Government of Kenya and other partners, is implementing innovation-oriented projects that benefit both the refugees and the communities that host them, improving their living standards and offering them livelihood opportunities.

In 2019, ITPO Germany conducted a preparatory mission to explore the needs and opportunities for a private sector delegation organized by ITPO Germany. The originally envisaged date for the mission in June 2020 had to be postponed due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Still, ITPO Germany continued to promote the mission during the year, for which approximately 50 innovative local and international companies have signed up. These companies and the planned Private Sector Missions focus on the following sectors:

  1. Sustainable energy for refugees, host communities, UNHCR and other organizations operating in the refugee-hosting areas

  2. Agribusiness, agricultural value chains, including cool-chain solutions

  3. Water/sanitation/health, water supply, irrigation, WASH

  4. Infrastructure, with a focus on shelter, construction, construction materials and waste management

  5. Skills development & (light) manufacturing, innovative ways of combining training and skills development with value-chain development

In order to prepare for the upcoming mission, ITPO Germany organized an online briefing and networking event on 25 November 2020. The interactive meeting included briefings by the UNHCR Representatives Office in Nairobi, UNHCR Sub-Offices in Kakuma/Kalobeyei and Dadaab and representatives of the Garissa and Kakuma county governments. Over 80 companies participated and over 40 of them joined the networking session where they could meet representatives of the UN organizations and discuss possible joint projects with other participating companies.

This strategic project is the first step towards setting up a platform connecting multiple UN agencies, financing institutions and private sector players in the context of a more inclusive and integrative approach to fostering economic and social development and improving the prospects of millions of refugees and their host communities.