Kalobeiyei 2 August 2017-- UN-Habitat, with support from the Government of Japan, recently conducted a community based stabilization programme aiming to support sustainable livelihoods development for refugees and host communities will contribute to improving the skills and increasing the capacity of refugees and host communities to implement development plans.

The solar street lights assembly training had two main objectives: improving the public space safety and delivering essential technical capacity to host and refugee to assemble and maintain solar street lights. The training was facilitated by Fredrick Ochieng and Jared Momanyi Oreri from UN-Habitat`s Urban Energy Unit, with support from Peace Winds Japan.

The training targeted at youth aged between 18 and 35 in Kalobeyei in Turkana County, men and women, from the host community and the refugee community in Kalobeyei. The course included a technical introduction to basic electronics followed by practical hands-on training on the assembly of solar street lights produced using locally available materials. At the end of the training each participant assembled an affordable, fully functioning solar street light which will be installed at pre-selected sites in public space in Kalobeyei town and inside the new refugee settlement.

Unemployment represents a major challenge faced by youth from the host and refugee communities in Kaloyebei. Employment opportunities are limited even for members of the host community. For refugees, their restricted movement deters them from becoming involved in income generating activities. The training addresses the twin challenges of unemployment and sustainable energy production. It also demystifies renewable energy technologies and empowers trainees to become involved in activities and enterprises that will improve their livelihoods and those of their communities. Solar street lighting technology is in high demand. Solar street lights improve safety and security in neighbourhoods and public spaces and can replace grid-powered street lighting or be installed in remote, off-grid areas.

The project supports the implementation of the Kalobeyei spatial plan developed by UN-Habitat together with UNHCR and the County Government that seeks to provide for development that integrates refugees and host communities. This project will significantly contribute to the development of a more sustainable approach to the situation of refugees and host communities, and at the same time provide a foundation for the development of a settlement system that is more sustainable.

Jared Oreri said that he had enjoyed delivering the course to what proved to be a dedicated group of young people. “The training sessions had commenced on time and even when the sessions went beyond the stipulated time, the young people had set aside for other activities, none of them had complained or asked to be allowed to leave,” he said.

Sifa Martha, a participant from the Kalobeyei New Settlement thanked UN-Habitat, UNHCR and Peace Wind Japan for organizing the training that had enabled her to gain new knowledge and skills. She stated that prior to the training, she had had no real interest in solar street lights and renewable energy technologies as a whole but after the past 5 days, her eyes have been opened on the possibilities of starting a business assembling and distributing street lighting systems. The training had met her needs perfectly.

Justin also thanked the two UN agencies and Peace Wind Japan for holding the training at the refugee camp. He felt that his background and previous interest in physics had helped him understand the operation of solar street lighting systems and lauded the planning and design of the course which included a theoretical introduction to basic electronics and the even more important practical assembly of solar street lighting systems. He urged his fellow participants not to keep the knowledge they had acquired during the training to themselves but to share it with their peers and their communities.

Bismark Ekamais said that he had enjoyed the training and had made sure he arrived early for all the 5 sessions that were held. He pleaded with the partners to ensure that the young people received the support necessary to enable them to succeed in their future efforts to set up renewable energy businesses. In conclusion, Bismark stated that he was very impressed that the training had brought together young people from the refugee and host communities who have a lot of knowledge and experiences to share but rarely get the platform to interact.

After thanking the training organizers, Jones Ngichwae revealed that the training had met and surpassed all his expectations. He said that not many trainings give the participants practical knowledge provided by the solar lantern assembly training and asked his fellow participants to ensure that they put their new knowledge to practical use to benefit themselves and their families.