A delegation from the Government of Japan is in Kalobeyei between 18-20th December monitoring UN-Habitat activities in the Kalobeyei new settlement. The delegation is accompanied by the project team at UN-Habitat and representatives from Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS) and the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) who are working in collaboration with Water Land and Ecosystem program of CGIAR and Penn State University.

UN-Habitat’s support in Kalobeyei is currently being implemented through the government’s funded project titled “Community-Based Stabilization Programme for Resettlement and Integration of Refugee Communities in Kalobeyei and Kakuma”. Over the period October – November, UN-Habitat has, within the project objectives, been spearheading three key activities;

  • Piloting construction of 3 alternative housing models for the new settlement – which have been designed on pro-bono basis by world re-known architect Shigeru Ban
  • Livelihoods development among refugee and host community women through training and supporting production of fuel briquettes from charcoal waste (dust/fines) collected from trading places and charcoal production sites, charcoal fines made from small twigs harvested from the invasive Propospis spp (mathenge) and charred using drum kiln, organic waste from markets and households, cow manure from the slaughter house and soil.
  • Construction of a community center in Kalobeyei new settlement, open for use by both communities

In the first day, the delegation visited the pilot shelter project, met business operators in the new settlement and got a demonstration on briquette production process by women from both host and refugee communities.

The shelter project aims to make a strategy for Kalobeyei that ensures construction of adequate housing for refugees that is affordable, accessible and culturally appropriate. The project is directly being overseen by Shigeru Ban’s team, in coordination with UN-Habitat’s Kakuma field office.

The briquettes production initiative is focused on empowering women to have self-employment opportunities that also generate income, as well as introducing alternative cooking energy options in an area that predominantly uses wood and charcoal, to great environmental detriment.

Twenty women from the host community received the training on 4-6th December and today five of them came to the settlement and trained another group about 20 refugee women, with support from Dr. Mary Njenga, a Bioenergy Research Scientist with ICRAF. This process is fostering friendship.

Speaking during the demonstration, Mr. Ito Yo, the Government of Japan representative reiterated the government’s commitment to sustainable settlements, environmental conservation and enhanced livelihoods among the most marginalized communities in Turkana County. Ms. Yuka Terada, the project leader confirmed the commitment of UN-Habitat to attaining these objectives in the Kalobeyei area. Representatives from the host and refugee communities expressed their appreciation for the support accorded to them by UN-Habitat and ICRAF through funding from the Government of Japan. Dr. Miyuki Liyama, an economist working with JIRCAS and ICRAF emphasized the need for sustainable cooking energy options that conserve trees in dry areas such as Turkana to arrest land degradation.

The delegation will visit other ongoing activities: the community center, an going construction of public space, and attend a photo exhibition organized by locally trained photographers, that documents the evolution of Kalobeyei new settlement. They will also meet UNHCR and hold discussions on waste management strategies and its linkages to energy production initiative being facilitated by ICRAF.