Potential of devolution in Kenya for transitional solutions for refugees

The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) in partnership with the Regional Durable Solutions Secretariat (ReDSS) has launched its latest study titled “Devolution in Kenya: Opportunity for Transitional Solutions for Refugees.”

The research conducted by Samuel Hall was commissioned to analyse the potential opportunities opened by the devolution process in Kenya for interim solutions for refugees which can contribute to building their self-reliance and to local economies.

“This report examines the case studies of Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps while taking stock of the political and security context framing refugee affairs in Kenya. It intends to assist policy makers to increase the potential of refugees to contribute to the development of counties and communities where they are hosted. It also aims to assess the role of the county governments in supporting improved quality of asylum and transitional solutions for refugees,” said Gemma Davies, ReDSS Coordinator.

A key finding of the report is that there are existing opportunities to facilitate potential interim solutions for refugees within the devolution framework. This includes formalizing existing informal economic integration, where the positive economic impact of refugee presence through business networks, remittances, market and skill diversification and job creation are recognized by host community and county government alike. The presence of development actors, private sector, and political will within the county government represent opportunities to formalize the presence of refugees for the development of the county, benefit of host community, while increasing the self-reliance of refugees.

The findings of the report were welcomed by the participants, particularly county representatives who appreciated the timeliness of the study at a time when Turkana County has recently allocated additional land for hosting South Sudanese refugees.

“Devolution is the best thing that has happened to Turkana County in regards to hosting and managing refugees. The county government of Turkana is willing to continue hosting refugees but we must be involved in the management of refugee affairs. We must address the current disconnect between national and county government on refugee management,” said Peter Ekai Lokoel, Deputy County Governor.

The report finds that there are potential entry points for county governments to be engaged in refugee management through service provision, in particular Health and Education, which are devolved functions. Findings show that there is already a level of informal integrated access to services, particularly in Kakuma, where host community access schools in the camps, and where refugees are accessing health services outside of the camps; while a multi-year, integrated education project is being piloted to benefit both refugees and host community alike. The report suggests potential ways for refugees to be factored into county development plans, and for refugee focused interventions to benefit the host community.

“The findings of this study can lead to programmatic opportunities to pilot increased self-reliance programming for refugees, possibilities for integrated service delivery to refugees and host community, as well as potential transitional solutions for local integration,” said David Kang’ethe, Country Director, DRC Kenya.

The launch of the report took place in Lodwar, Turkana County with 31 participants attending including Mr. Peter Ekai Lokoel - Turkana County Deputy Governor, David Kang’ethe - DRC Kenya Country Director, a host of representatives from various county line ministries and departments within the county and other invited representatives from Kenya Private Alliance Sector (KEPSA), Transitional Authority and the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI).

Read the full report here (PDF 744 KB)

For more information about the report, please contact: Gemma Davies ([email protected])