DRC has been operating in Kenya since 2005 and has accumulated significant knowledge and experience in supporting refugees, host communities and people who are internally displaced (IDPs) in the country. DRC began its operations in Dadaab in partnership with CARE Kenya and Refugee Consortium of Kenya (RCK) to help prepare refugees for eventual return and ensure equity between refugees and the neighbouring population by funding host community activities. Since 2009, DRC has been implementing activities directly in Dadaab, e.g. construction of social infrastructure, improved livelihoods, and activities related to improved access to water and sanitation. DRC Kenya has now moved its scope of work from construction related activities to having a stronger focus on protection and livelihoods activities.
DRC has been a signatory to tripartite sub-agreements with UNHCR and the Government of Kenya since 2009. UNHCR selected DRC to take the lead in the construction of social infrastructure projects including the construction of police offices and accommodation in support of law enforcement and security in the camps, schools and medical facilities. DRC has been carrying out civil works projects, among them the construction of access roads in the Dadaab refugee camps and other civil works outside the settlements. DRC has further been involved in the construction of emergency shelter, pitching of tents for new arrivals, and piloting of shelter types using Interlocking Stabilised Soils Bricks (ISSB).
Since the beginning in 2009, DRC has been a key player in supporting livelihood activities within refugee and host communities in and around Dadaab and with a strong emphasis on needs for durable solutions, and targeting both individuals and groups. DRC has further been involved in several youth projects, among them a youth talent recognition programme, sports competitions, and the establishment of an IT center in one of the Dadaab refugee settlements.
Following the high influx of refugees into Dadaab in the wake of the 2011 famine in South Central Somalia, DRC has been among the lead agencies providing emergency and lifesaving assistance. This has included the provision of drinking water for schools and dispensaries in Dadaab through extended pipelines, and water trucked to refugees in the outskirts of the settlements. During the 2011 drought, life-saving drinking water was also trucked to a number of points on the migratory routes from the Somali/Kenyan border to the Dadaab refugee complex.
Throughout 2012, DRC has worked with building the capacity of local leaders in grant management and community led project management, and has disbursed funds to local committees managing the construction of staff accommodation block at a health center and administration facilities for a primary school.
During 2013, DRC will continue to provide both emergency life-saving assistance and long term development support to existing refugees, new arrivals and to the host communities in Dadaab.
DRC is working to improve livelihood among refugees in Ifo1, Ifo2 and Dagahaley camps targeting men and women between the ages of 18-59 who constitute more than 40% the refugee population and suffer from severe unemployment rates. The focus on this age group is essential to reduce vulnerability among refugees and efforts are part of the overall aim to improve protection of refuges and to reduce aid dependency. In addition, DRC is further supporting refugee youths through new vocational and technical skills that will enable them to pursue income generating activities. Improving livelihoods among refugees in Dadaab has immediate impact and build capacities in multiple levels, including during resettlement and in the reconstruction of Somalia in the event of repatriation.
DRC’s livelihoods activities in Dadaab and in host communities in Garissa and Wajir Counties focus on the promotion of youth owned businesses, and to improve market access for livestock farmers in the area.
While increasing focus on livelihoods interventions in Dadaab, DRC is continuing its commitment to support education facilities, trainings on refugee related laws, business development skills, mental health and psychosocial support, communication and conflict resolution as well as substance abuse therapy.
In addition, DRC is implementing an advocacy programme in partnership with Refugee Consortium of Kenya (RCK) which aims to promote the rights and welfare of refugees in Kenya and the East African region through legal clinics, advocacy and awareness-raising on the Refugee Act. The programme with RCK also includes the provision of legal aid services to refugees, engagement in advocacy for policy change and development of related legislation.
Several DRC activities in Dadaab addresses needs for improved protection of women and girls in the camps where insecurity and sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is widespread. DRC is the lead UNHCR partner for SGBV in the Ifo1 camp where prevention and response mechanisms are improved, including the management of the only safe haven for women in Dadaab.
Urban refugees remain invisible in cities and little attention is directed towards assisting this group. It is approximated that there are about 100,000 urban refugees in Kenya with only 56,000 registered by the Kenyan government. In the capital Nairobi, DRC has been implementing a programme in support of urban refugees since 2012. Activities target micro-entrepreneurs in urban and peri urban areas of Nairobi and have included capacity development and conditional grants to trainees. Vocational trainings address needs for livelihoods opportunities among refugee youth including business start-up kits for graduates.
Protection of urban refugees is of concern and remains a cross-cutting theme in DRC activities focusing on reducing Gender Based violence (GBV) and improving livelihoods and income opportunities through vocational training schemes. In 2013, training of community monitors and leaders in GBV reporting, documenting and articulating their needs and right violations is the cornerstone of the programme.
DRC is part of the REGAL-IR (Resilience and Economic Growth in Arid Lands – Improving Resilience) through a consortium led by ADESO (Africa Development Solutions). Through synergised activities , the consortium aims at strengthening social, economic, and environmental resilience in five counties in Northern Kenya, namely Garissa, Wajir, Marsabit, Isiolo, and Turkana.
DRC together with the other consortium members have in the first year (2013) engaged in a community-driven development approach, Participatory Learning, Planning and Action (PLPA) which is intended at empowering communities in the target counties to assess and identify gaps and capacities, go through a process of community visioning, plan and take charge of their development and resilience efforts.
Recognising that the success of the REGAL-IR project and specifically the focus on resilience building depends on among other things an atmosphere of peaceful coexistence that is sustained overtime, DRC’s key role is to improve the capacity of the pastoral communities and local governments in the target and neighboring counties to mitigate and manage potential conflicts especially those arising from natural resource sharing and management.
DRC will employ a ‘people to people’ approach to peace building by supporting dialogue and mediation processes that will bring historically conflicting communities together for mutual problem solving. This will be reinforced by facilitating communities to identify and implement shared peace dividend activities aimed at sustaining interaction and dialogue between the different groups.
The wider aim is to improve stability across Northern Kenya and establish conditions conducive for sustainable development in the region.