The Role of Public Spaces for COVID-19 Response in Refugee Settlements: A study of Kakuma-Kalobeyei, Turkana County, Kenya
In Kakuma-Kalobeyei, northern kenya, streets, public spaces and shared public facilities have played a critical role in supporting host and refugee communities in their day-to-day activities. Well-planned and designed public spaces provide a range of benefits and advantages to developing settlements and towns, such as through ensuring accessibility via walkable distances, availability and access to facilities that meet the needs of residents, and a location for social interaction and exchange. Access to well-designed and suitable public spaces have become increasingly essential, and especially for hosts and refugee communities who live with greater vulnerabilities – including a lack of access to basic and essential services and livelihoods such as marketplaces, aid distribution centres, healthcare centres. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that the importance and use of public space is essential during this time.
This report by UN-Habitat aims to provide recommendations towards the design, implementation and use of public spaces as essential components of a holistic COVID-19 response. Well-designed public spaces can help limit the spread of the virus, improve physical and mental health, and to ensure equal access to services and public facilities. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted several gaps in public spaces in Kakuma-Kalobeyei which need to be addressed in the short-, medium- and long-term. As Kakuma-Kalobeyei starts to open up from lockdown, it will be essential to re-build confidence in users in public spaces that can also redefine the beneficial uses these spaces can play.